Industrialization is the root of many evils.
There’s an interesting linear story to how the tightening of beauty standards and the subsequent plummet of positive body image and self esteem (for my purposes, I mean women’s) resulted from industrialization. Here’s how I rationalize it; ever since the production of clothing has been a commercial affair, the market for name brand clothing has skyrocketed. By now, there are many companies (e.g. Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret) that have taken full advantage of the situation and are advertising aggressively. It’s no secret that our pliable minds are more likely to gravitate toward the company with not only the best clothes, but the most attractive models. This has no doubt influence the unfortunate advertisement trends that are defining the aspirations of today’s youth. For males, chiseled jaws, petrified abs, etc., and for women, fatless bellies, shapely breasts and doll faces. One pretty much has to be born with all of those traits in their DNA for them to materialize, but they are ingrained in American minds as the markers of ideal human beings, and their absence as the marker of undesirable human beings. Here’s this: a TED talk about why thinking you’re ugly is bad for you. Of course much of the problem can be blamed on the nearly ludicrous sexualization of pretty much everything on a female body, but if the Lowell Mills had never been a thing and everyone still wore individualized textiles, I think the society-crippling issue of negative self-image wouldn’t exist.
Here’s an article outlining the influence of the Lowell Mills over early industrialization.