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  • Amy Liu

Beauty Standards and Fashion

Coco Chanel, a French fashion designer and founder of the Chanel brand, says, “Beauty comes when fashion succeeds.” Beauty and fashion are very much related. According to The New Oxford American Dictionary, beauty is a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. And fashion is an aesthetic expression in trend, especially in clothing style. There is an interplay between beauty standards and fashion throughout history to highlight the differences before the popularity used in corsets and after the decline in corset culture.

To start, the Renaissance was a period of rebirth. Styles of ancient Greece and Roman inspired many artists. Artists (such as Raphael, Lucas Cranach, and Leonardo da Vinci) at the time portray their view of beauty in their works. Such as having pale white skin and a symmetrical face. To note, these beauty standards are borrowed from ancient Greece and Roman. The arts at the time led to trends and set down what society viewed as beauty.


The Elizabethan Era (1558 - 1603) is the height of the Renaissance. Queen Elizabeth is famously known for her beauty and a fashion icon at the time. Beauty attributes at the time include bleaching and plucking of hair. To reiterate, pale skin is a beauty attribute of showing high status at this time and onward.


Fashion at the beginning of the 1700s was lavished with great details until the 1750s and became simpler by the 1800s. This shift is due to political and cultural changes, including the American (1775–83) and French (1789–99) Revolutions. The 18th century’s fashion is a period of formality and decadence.



According to the Washington Post, Maria Gunning (1732 - 1760), a famous Irish beauty and London society hostess, died from her makeup. The beauty standards during the 18th and 19th centuries, especially during the Victorian Era (1837 - 1901), are to have no visible makeup and to have skins to be very pale, according to WordPress. Some women drank vinegar or used lead-based paints or even ate chalk to achieve a beautiful look. Beauty standard during the Victorian Era also includes a cinched waist, where women wore corsets to achieve the ideal body shape.

One function of the corset is, in a way, to hide women’s body image. According to dress historian Abby Cox, she says “corset constructs every woman to fit the fashion ideal of the era.” This fashion accessory gives mental comfort to many women, which they wouldn’t feel pressured to exercise or have diet plans.

The corset is the key to swift change in beauty standards and fashion. In a short clip 3,000 Years Of Women’s Beauty Standards, after the decline in corset culture, women’s body image tends to be more focused on having a slim body or an hourglass figure. Nowadays, the body image drives more towards the extreme hourglass figure with large breasts and butts. Women regularly get plastic surgery to achieve their desired look. According to Verywellhealth, plastic surgery is growing in popularity each year, with almost 18 million surgical procedures in the United States annually.

To recap, the beauty standards and fashion are clearly in contrast before and after the corset culture. Women in the past even went to the extreme of using or consuming toxic materials to remain beautiful. Tailored outfits also cost a large amount of money. Women in the past looked beautiful, but at a cost. After the decline in corset culture, women tend to dress comfortably but expose their body image. Women often unconsciously worry about being able to fit the beauty standard and consider having plastic surgery. It’s obvious that to be beautiful and fashionable is at the cost of that you must sacrifice.

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