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Sunday, 13 May 2012


A Quick Beauty Timeline
1000 1000 The Middle Ages saw the rise of a more complex view of female beauty in Western Europe. Purity was the order of the day.
1530 A slender ankle, small breasts and a pale face are in.
1605 The Stuarts go for big-haired beauty.
1670 Dark ringlets and plenty of padding come with the Restoration.
1700 Women were at least size 16, the fuller figure was fashionable , girth being a sign of wealth.
1730 A powdered wig and a face to match is in.
1851 A wasp waist and well-shaped nose is in.
1925 The film industry has become the greatest single source for the employment of beautiful people.
Boyish good looks with short hair and no waist is in.

The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato taught that the essence of human beauty lies in the belief that all things beautiful can be divided into thirds. A brow one third of way from hairline, a mouth 1/3rd of way from the brow and a point of chin 1/3rd way from the mouth.

In ancient Japan, small eyes, a round puffy face, and plump body were considered attractive features of women.

A famous musician and singer from Baghdad known as Blackbird opened the world’s first beauty institute in southern Spain in 840AD. Here, students learned the secrets of hair removal, as well as how to apply cosmetics, manufacture deodorants, use toothpowder, and the basics of hairdressing.

In Europe in the early Middle Ages, Married women were expected to conceal their hair in order not to stimulate the sexual desires of men. Only virgins were permitted to wear their hair loose.

The Renaissance period gave rise to a new obsession: the breast. The nude breast increasingly began to appear in Renaissance art, often set in the context of religious or maternal images.

The Tudors preferred small-breasted women. Fashion reflected this, with stiffened bodices to flatten the chests of even the most well endowed.

Paleness of skin was symbolic of a woman’s inner purity in the Middle Ages. Rosy cheeks were a sign of sin and lust, as well as of common birth. Everyone strove for that instant sign of aristocracy--the pale complexion--even though the white lead that many used corroded skin and caused hair to fall out.

At the French court in the sixteenth century, men and women competed with each other in excesses of personal adornment. They wore powders, perfumes, wigs, laces, jewelry, corsets, ruffles, and beauty marks that originally were black patches to cover blemishes, including scars and pits left by disease. Ointments of oils and almond paste were used to whiten skin, as were clay, chalk, and zinc.

Powders of orris (the rootstock of a European iris), flour, and cornstarch became so popular for faces and wigs in sixteenth century France for the aristocracy that they caused a shortage of grain for hungry peasants.

The Restoration period gave rise to a new trend in beauty that was to prevail throughout the following century-the wig. Increasingly elaborate, these wigs were worn by the aristocracy to demonstrate how wealthy they were.

In the 1700s, European women achieved a pale complexion by eating "Arsenic Complexion Wafers" actually made with the poison.

Americans spend more than $5 billion a year on cosmetics, toiletries, beauty parlors and barber shops.

The San Blas Indian women of Panama consider giant noses a mark of great beauty.

Caligynephobia is the fear of beautiful women.

Sources BBC History Magazine, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

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