Beauty Throughout the Ages

Throughout the years the ideal body image for a woman has greatly evolved, but has always been an important part of society.

During the Renaissance period, the ideal woman was zaftig. This extra fat indicated wealth, portraying that they were able to afford luxuries, including lavish meals. Painters often depicted goddesses as being more rounded, this oil painting by Italian painter, Lorenzo Lotto, serves as an example(Christiansen).

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Lotto’s painting “depicts Venus and her son Cupid”(Christiansen). Keith Christiansen, the author of the painting description, explains how Lotto related Venus to the goddess of marriage and placed objects in his painting to compare her to a bride. The ideal image of women since the Renaissance period has significantly changed to what it is today.

For an accurate depiction of today’s ideal view of beauty for a women, a brief explanation off the beauty standards for women over the past century or so is needed . According to Amanda Scherker, news editor, the 1890s had a “growth of mass media” and magazines began to have “”cover girls” on their magazine[s].” The most well known “was the Gibson Girl,” which, according to Scherker, “is considered the first nationwide image of the ideal American women.” The late 1800s began advertising ideal beauty standards that evolved to what we are bombarded with today. “In the 1920s, women became the central targets of the booming advertising industry,” further perpetuating ideal beauty standards (Scherker). A massive growth of advertising in the 1910s and 1920s, targeting mostly women, exalted beauty regimes for women to follow  and made women start comparing themselves to models and see their bodies as “things to be created competitively against other women,”(Scherker qttd. Stuart Ewen). Further perpetuating beauty standards for women were Hollywood films and famous actresses. Marilyn Monroe became a staple for beauty at the time, but from the 60s on, the ideal form of beauty became slimmer (Scherker). Scherker references Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth when stating how in the late 1960s magazines


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shifted their “focus from fashion the the female body” and that “diet-related articles grew 70 percent” “between 1968 and 1972,” proving the drastic change in the ideal perception of beauty for women. the 1990s provided another way for making the beauty standards even more unattainable, photoshop. Today, as a society we are “bombared on a daily basis with images of ideal beauty,” from the internet, magazines, TV, movies, and advertisements that “push one narrow depiction of beauty”(Scherker).

Images of the goddess Venus have a sharp contrast to the ideal images of beauty in today’s  society, nonetheless they provide an accurate depiction of what was the ideal form of beauty at the time.


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