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Author Topic: Marketing female Beauty during the 20th century  (Read 13186 times)
Justan
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« on: December 23, 2009, 08:54:21 AM »
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The article is actually titled Perceptions Of Female Beauty In The 20th Century but the article revolves around how different fashions developed.

Still, it’s an interesting read…

by Louise Wood

The 20th century has seen a huge upsurge in the importance placed by Western society on physical beauty, particularly for women. The fashion, cosmetics and plastic surgery industries have thrived on 20th century preoccupation with physical appearance. It is a preoccupation that affects women in every sphere, whether they choose to pander to it or not. This essay examines female beauty in the 20th century in terms of popular culture, in particular fashion, cinema and advertising. before exploring these areas, I intend to deal briefly with basic definitions of beauty. The main body of the essay will then be concerned with an overview of each decade's particular take in female beauty.

According to Kant, the judgement of beauty is different from cognitive or moral judgement because it is effected subjectively, that is, exclusively in reference to the person making the judgement. For a judgement to be truly “aesthetic”, rather than merely idiosyncratic, the person making the judgement must be adamant that their opinion be consensus. “A person who describes something as beautiful insists that everyone ought to give the object in question his approval and follow suit.” Plato, one of the earliest philosophers to concern himself with beauty, defined it as a “property intrinsic in objects” which could be measured in “purity, integrity, harmony and perfection.”

Definitions of beauty in the 20th century, when referring to human physical beauty, are nearly always constructed in terms of outward appearance and sexual attractiveness. Nancy Baker's definition is The Beauty Trap is more concerned with intangible personal qualities. “A truly beautiful woman makes the best of her physical assets but, more importantly, she also radiates a personal quality which is attractive.” In Beauty In History, Arthur Marwick defines a human physical beauty in more direct terms: “The beautiful are those who are immediately exciting to almost all of the opposite sex.”

For the first two decades of the 20th century, many of the attitudes towards beauty associated with the 19th century remained. In Victorian society, it was considered a woman's duty to make herself beautiful. In the early 20th century, this was coupled with the idea of “self-presentation” as enjoyable, expressive and creative. However, some of the more bizarre and painful “beauty aids” of the Victorian age continued to be marketed well into the 1920s. A particularly unpleasant example is “M.Trielty's Nose Shaper”, described as a “metal object ... held over the nose by straps buckled round the head and adjusted with screws.”

The rest of the article: http://barneygrant.tripod.com/p-erceptions.htm

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Shirley Bracken
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« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2009, 09:06:13 AM »
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Thanks Justan, that was interesting!
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ssbracken.com  (Formerly Bumperjack)
bill t.
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2009, 10:32:42 PM »
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Quote from: Justan
However, some of the more bizarre and painful “beauty aids” of the Victorian age continued to be marketed well into the 1920s. A particularly unpleasant example is “M.Trielty's Nose Shaper”, described as a “metal object ... held over the nose by straps buckled round the head and adjusted with screws.”

We've come a long way since those barbaric days.  We know now that all a girl really needs to look beautiful is a nice smile!

http://www.lauren-mccarthy.com/happinesshat/

Oh, and here's The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, with 49 runner-ups!

http://www.askmen.com/women/top50/1.html
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ddk
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2009, 10:50:48 PM »
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Quote from: bill t.
We've come a long way since those barbaric days.  We know now that all a girl really needs to look beautiful is a nice smile!

http://www.lauren-mccarthy.com/happinesshat/

Oh, and here's The Most Beautiful Girl in the World, with 49 runner-ups!

http://www.askmen.com/women/top50/1.html


Heck, with that much photoshoping my 89 year old grandma could compete and WIN!
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david
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Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2010, 04:55:17 AM »
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Beauty in people.

I don't think it is exclusively the attraction between the opposite sexes at all. Women can clearly see beauty in other women just as well as men can see a good-looking male for what he is. It's more difficult for men to admit they find other men attractive because that gets so automatically confused with latent or even overt homosexuality that people are afraid to admit to the obvious, physical reality of beauty within their own gender. It is far easier and more conventional to pretend that the concept of male beauty has never crossed the barriers at the edges of the male psyche. What a lot of nonsense!

Beauty is not, exclusively, sex appeal nor, in a photographic context, does it imply the ability to be a good model. It has been one of my great disappointments in life to learn early on that a beautiful woman can also have the dynamism of a wooden Indian.

I think that beauty can also be found in imperfection. Look a some of Hans Feurer's photographs, and when you recover from the effect of the photography, a study of the actual models will reveal that they seldom meet any standard of conventional good looks. From aquiline noses to flat chests and/or too thin legs, it's all there in different combinations, but overall it's just beautiful.

Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2010, 05:05:40 AM »
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I really think the beautiful people are those who are kind-hearted and careful to treat their lives.



Absolutely, but that isn't what this thread is about, unless I misunderstood the OP.

A beautiful nature is a gift as much as is some sort of great physical beauty; but I think the difference might be that a beautiful nature has always been recognized for what it is, whilst ideals of the physical version of beauty vary with the times.

I have know older people - women - who still show remarkable beauty in their faces, but that is more a matter of bone structure than the skin and flesh covering which always fades away with the years. The trouble with beauty in a person's nature is that it isn't immediately visible: you have to get to know them first, and first impressions are so powerful that poor ones can deny people the next step in a relationship that might otherwise have been far more rewarding than physical beauty which can fade to leave what - nothing.

Now, if I had more hair...

Rob C
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feppe
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, 02:44:53 PM »
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I really think the beautiful people are those who are kind-hearted and careful to treat their lives.

You seem to be talking about kindness, which doesn't have anything to do with (aesthetic) beauty - or you're using the more recent extended definition of beauty which includes kindness.

Beauty is a universal concept across cultures and races, there has been quite a bit of research on this subject. Babies with no forming from social pressures look at pictures of beautiful people longer than ugly ones. In women beauty is youth, symmetry, smooth skin, high cheek bones, small chin, big eyes, and small waist-to-hip ratio - in short, exterior indicators of fertility and health (which can be inaccurate or faked). For a good overview, check out Survival of the Prettiest.
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feppe
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2010, 02:46:15 PM »
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I have know older people - women - who still show remarkable beauty in their faces, but that is more a matter of bone structure than the skin and flesh covering which always fades away with the years. The trouble with beauty in a person's nature is that it isn't immediately visible: you have to get to know them first, and first impressions are so powerful that poor ones can deny people the next step in a relationship that might otherwise have been far more rewarding than physical beauty which can fade to leave what - nothing.

Now, if I had more hair...

Bone structure is ageless Smiley
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feppe
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2010, 05:05:41 PM »
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So Cleopatra was not good looking but she had an incredible attractive power mostly because of her inner beauty and her inteligence.

I'm sure her attractiveness had much more to do with the fact that she was a shrewd monarch and considered divine, rather than her physical prowess.
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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2010, 09:37:28 AM »
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I'm sure her attractiveness had much more to do with the fact that she was a shrewd monarch and considered divine, rather than her physical prowess.




Yep, but even she fell foul of the serpent...

;-)

Rob C
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feppe
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2010, 03:25:09 PM »
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It seems that it was not the case because the description of her inner beauty we have now came mostly from roman's men much more powerfull than her. So not impressed by her position, Egypt at that time had little power and she was considered god only by her subjects, not by the powerfull guys like Caesar.

There's not a man on earth who wouldn't want more power. Back in the day marriage was a convenient way to expand one's influence without waging war. And just because Egypt itself didn't have much power doesn't mean it didn't have a lot to offer to Rome - and it did, otherwise Rome wouldn't go to war with Egypt.

Anyway, this is pointless and beyond the point.
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2010, 05:34:46 PM »
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There's not a man on earth who wouldn't want more power. Back in the day marriage was a convenient way to expand one's influence without waging war. And just because Egypt itself didn't have much power doesn't mean it didn't have a lot to offer to Rome - and it did, otherwise Rome wouldn't go to war with Egypt.

Anyway, this is pointless and beyond the point.




The point being...?


Rob C
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feppe
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2010, 05:37:16 PM »
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The point being...?

I pointed it out in my previous posts.
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2010, 06:36:21 AM »
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I pointed it out in my previous posts.



feppe, what kind of attention span did you imagine me capable of sustaining in my dotage? I claim the divine rights of second-childhood!

;-(

Rob C
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feppe
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2010, 05:27:12 PM »
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feppe, what kind of attention span did you imagine me capable of sustaining in my dotage? I claim the divine rights of second-childhood!

;-(

That attention span made you entirely miss my pointed tautology.
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2010, 10:42:55 AM »
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That attention span made you entirely miss my pointed tautology.

That's because it wasn't spoken; I hear everything twice or, alternatively, not at all.

;-)

Rob C
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