The standards of beauty are ever changing, as dictated by the times and our culture. To date, the many screen sirens of Hollywood have presented the ideal against which society has measured and recognized what is beautiful.
In the earliest days of cinema, big eyes, tiny lips and hair flowing in curls combined perfectly into the picture of innocence that these early stars such as the Gish sisters graciously pulled off. The flapper craze characterized most of the 1920’s. Bold lips that stood out conspicuously from a round face that wore a confident and sarcastic expression, and equally round thighs and arms were among the distinguishing features during this era.
The 1930s saw Hollywood have a much greater impact on beauty with women borrowing lessons on style from stars like Jean Harlow. Neatly trimmed or drawn-on eyebrows and a distinct beauty spot marked the attention given to the face during this decade. Tall and voluptuous defined the feminine body of the ideal 1930’s woman.
While the average woman struggled with the restrictions of the Second World War, Hollywood stars continued to impress. Shiny hair parted at the side and flowing curls that fell over the shoulders defined the feminine hairstyles of this decade. Hollywood’s leading acts like Rita Hayworth and Bette Davis, with their long legs and curvy build, were the popular fashion icons in the ’40s.
Grace Kelly, Kim Novak and Audrey Hepburn among others effortlessly epitomized 1950’s beauty; petite, with a small ‘wasp’ waist for the perfect hourglass figure. After this pin-up era, the 1960s ideal beauty was defined by wide lips and big eyes as well as exaggerated curves in all the right places. Sophia Loren’s gorgeous face and her famous silhouette made curves very prominent on the big screen during this decade.
The natural look succinctly describes the standards of beauty in the 1970’s. This was in line with the revolution among women for equality. The fresh face look of stars such as Diane Keaton exemplified this trend of the time. Full lips, thin eyebrows, blonde hair and a lean bust define the 1980’s style as best shown by starlets of the time such as Kim Basinger. The 90’s beauty ideals included a well-defined chin, thick black hair and big eyes.
At the start of the new millennium, Hollywood leading ladies like Halle Berry, with delicate cheekbones and bold and commanding expressions set the bar for recognizing beauty. Mid-way through this decade, the trends in beauty are continually evolving, so it’s difficult to say which style will be remembered as the beauty standard of the 2010’s.
Beauty is a dynamic concept in which the only constant and definite element is its changing nature. JR Thorpe has written a piece that highlights changing beauty standards in Hollywood here.