The Evolution of Beauty – And Why is Beauty such a high priority today?
Beauty to people can be defined in many different ways. People may prefer blondes to brunettes; tall men are more attractive than short men. When we get caught up in trying to let the media establish the definition of beauty. People lose sight of our own personal definitions. Maybe it is because in this day and age, it is difficult for young women to find strong role models without acquiring a false impression. Actresses, supermodels, and singers that are on television are women who portray an unrealistic beauty. Furthermore and sadly these women are the ones that children and young adults look up to. Where and how did beauty originate? What has caused beauty to be such a big priority? Beauty has been a very crucial aspect to life; as such, it has changed from the Renaissance to the Holocaust by beautiful voluptuous women being portrayed in paintings to dictators killing innocent people for believing there is a master race.
During one of the most admired time periods in history, The Renaissance, women who were overweight were considered beautiful. The Renaissance was a cultural movement during the 14th through the late 16th century.1 This cultural movement began in Florence, Italy and in time throughout all of Europe. The Renaissance means rebirth in French. Furthermore the Renaissance is best known for its artistic developments and contributions of to the polymaths, Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo, who inspired the word “Renaissance Man”.2 Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo had a wide range of knowledge and is reason why they were called polymaths. World-wide famous paintings such as; The Mona Lisa, The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, John the Baptist, Libyan Sibylle And Proclamation to Maria are paintings that portray voluptuous women. During The Renaissance their figures and forms were considered to be sexy and more attractive.3 “ Rubens Women” was a quote that portrayed women, who are not only consistent with the social trend but who are also most likely reflected the personal taste of the painters.4 The painters would use women with feminine figures (which in today’s world’s would be considered too fat) in their paintings because it was considered to be beautiful and appealing.5 Also in earlier times, being fat or overweight symbolized that only the wealthy people could afford to eat well, while the poor were slender and skinny from malnutrition.
There are sixty- two cultures out of the whole world shows that being thin is preferred above all in countries where people do not think twice about eating bread.6 Though while in poor countries heavier women are considered more beautiful. Also as time progresses during the twentieth century, the more traditional the woman’s role is such as; a housewife or a mother, the more curvaceous they are supposed to be. But in cultures like the United States, where women have a political power, economic participation, employment and the role in the education system. Women are preferred to be slender and thin.
Also around the 1330’s, there was a deadly outbreak called the Bubonic Plague. The bubonic plague affected rodents but fleas were able to transmit the disease to humans. Once people were infected, they could infect others very easily. The plague causes fever and glands called buboes, which how the diseases received its name. Also the disease caused the skin to turn pale with red spots and first and then turn black. After the plague people who were pale were considered to be unhealthy. Because of such historical events such as the Bubonic plague, today tanner skins are considered to be more beautiful because the bronze effect instills a high sense of beauty. Also if people acquire a beautiful tan people will notice others more than people with a pale complexion. Also people with a tan will reflect in any type of lighting and will be the center of attention. As time progresses, purity is defined as beauty and historical events such as the Holocaust killed many people because they did not perceive the Aryan look.
Romanticism was in the 18th century that was an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world.7 People in Western cultures thought differently about themselves and the world is because of their surroundings. By being clustered around cold, wild, remote landscape and climate in Europe, made the German, the British, and the European society believe they were better than other continents.8 Also making Europeans believe they are superior.9 On January 30, 1933 a man named Adolf Hitler was became the Chancellor of Germany and also believed there was a superior race.10 As chancellor, Hitler wanted to establish a New Order of making Nazi Germany the absolute authority.11 As the Nazi became the dominance of Germany, they also believed in Nazism.12 Nazism was an ideology that had a variety of fascism that involved biological racism, anti-Semitism, and the belief in the supremacy of the Aryan master race.
In order to achieve this objective, Adolf Hitler pursed a foreign policy by seizing Lebensraum or living space for the Aryan people, which included the rearmament of Germany. There was a foundation of Hitler’s social polices where the concept of racial hygiene, which was based on a French count named Arthur de Gobineau ideas.13 He favored racial purity and in order to acquire racial purity he believed he had to kill the “ life unworthy of life.”14 Which were children with physical and the development of being disabled were to be terminated through a program called Action T4. Action T4 was a program where physicians killed their patients who were incurably sick. It began on October 1939 until August 1941 that was specified in by Hitler in a secret memo and physicians killed over 70,000 people.15 This event culminated in 1939 when Wehrmacht invaded Poland and the beginning of the Holocaust.16 From 1939 and 1945 around 14 million people, including Jews, died in concentration camps, ghettos, and mass executions during the Holocaust.17
Although the majority of white women have naturally dark brown, red and black hair, 70-80 percent of women dye their hair blonde from the age of young teenagers to elderly old woman.18 People today are bombarded everyday with beauty contests, shows like Nip/Tuck and Extreme Makeover, as well as magazines featuring the most beautiful people in the world. Furthermore, advertisements abound that offer the definition of beauty, selling products by selling hope of either making oneself more beautiful or maintaining one’s beauty. Beauty is defined according to society, but have people stop to think what is really beauty?
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1 Mike Dowling, “The Renaissance ,” http://www.mrdowling.com/704renaissance.html (accessed 2010 ).
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13 Robert S. Wistrich, Who's Who In Nazi Germany? (London: Routledge, 1995).
15 S Benedict and J Kuhla, "Nurses' participation in the euthanasia programs of Nazi Germany," West J Nurs Res, 1999: 246–63.
16 Donald L. Niewyk and Francis R. Nicosia, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).
17 Donald L. Niewyk and Francis R. Nicosia, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).
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