Beauty is certainly a fluid concept. It doesn't truly have a concrete definition, mainly due to the fact that the concept of beauty is often subjective, constantly changing and culturally relative. Throughout history, many shocking beauty regimens have been practiced by women in a bid to conform to beauty standards of the time. Examining these regimes offers a fascinating glimpse of how the concept of beauty has changed throughout the course of history.
It seems that being svelte has almost always been seen as beautiful. Dieting is one of the most common ways that women try to adhere to this standard, and the practise has existed for centuries. During the Industrial Revolution, women in England resorted to drastic diets to fit in. The most shocking diet of the time was the Tapeworm Diet, which saw women ingesting live tapeworms. The tapeworms would live in their stomachs, feeding off the food the women ate. The tapeworms then had to be removed from the women’s stomachs when they grew too large. But before you shake your head and brand these women as crazy, simply consider the society we live in today. Many shocking practices that women take part in today are a direct result of society's beauty ideal. Take tanning beds for example. Since the days of Baywatch, tanned skin has reached mainstream popularity. In fact, many women can’t even fathom the idea of socialising without a golden glow. Of course, it's now been proven that tanning beds are incredibly dangerous. They have lead to a massive rise in skin cancer in young women across the globe. According to SkinCancer.org, just one tanning session raises your chances of developing skin cancer by 20%. Yet despite these worrying statistics, the tanning bed market is growing every year.
So, without being too quick to judge the stranger beauty standards women have adhered to in the past, take a look at our list below. These nine trends - some of them now unfathomable - show how the concept of beauty has changed throughout history across the world, and how women have gone to extreme measures to conform to it.
9 Huge Foreheads
8 Ultra-Thin Waists
7 Deathly Pale Skin
6 Tiny Feet
5 Black Teeth
4 Dramatic Hair
3 Chubby Women or Boyish Girls?
2 Big Eyes
Westernisation is possibly the most alarming beauty trend of the modern era. Westernisation in beauty terms refers to the methods by which many women alter their image to fit a more ‘Western’ framework. The Western image, in this context, is defined by the typical traits of any Caucasian female: pale skin, average height, and large eyes. In many countries outside of the West, this image is idolised and has resulted in very alarming practises. From skin bleaching to eyelid surgery, many women have gone to startling extremes to meet this relatively new Western ideal. This homogenisation of beauty and the lengths to which women are going to attain it is a shocking and dangerous trend - we can only hope that this is another fleeting trend to which we'll look back on incredulously in years to come.
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