OPINION: Women are caught in the middle of evolving beauty standards

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Carly Markovich | The Daily Wildcat

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: Women use makeup to fit into society's constantly changing beauty standards. Makeup trends have changed throughout the decades to fit with the progression of how society thinks women should look.

What does it mean to be beautiful? This is a question with an ever-changing answer. In our society women are expected to fit with the constantly changing beauty standards that have been set for them.

In our world today beauty standards for women are high, almost unattainable to reach.

Beauty standards are a part of women’s history, and women have always been put under pressure to look a certain way. The beauty standards can be seen in the media, whether it's on social media, magazines, movies or tv shows. Beauty and the desire to be seen as beautiful is an obsession in our society, which is why many individuals will go to extreme lengths to fit what the current definition of beauty is. 

Taking a step back in time and looking at the history of what has been defined as “beautiful” over the years, beauty standards have changed. In the 1920s, the trend was shorter hair and many women began to follow this. The 1930s was a time when many individuals strived to have an hourglass figure and shape to their bodies. The 1980s was a time period when big hair was essential for beauty, and in the 1990s pale skin and skinny figures were what was glorified. 

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In the early 2000s women strived to have a flat toned stomach for low rise jeans and spent a lot of time in tanning beds to get a bronzed glow. In our world today, women spend thousands of dollars on hair extensions, lip fillers and cosmetic surgeries to look like the celebrities that are praised because of their beauty. 

Many women feel pressured to change their appearance to try their best to match society’s beauty standards. This could include dying their hair a different color, dressing a certain way, working out more to fit a specific body type and even cosmetic or plastic surgery. According to DoSomething.org, a survey found that more than 40% of women would consider cosmetic surgery.  

The changing definition of beauty and the standards set by society and the media can be toxic and harmful to women. Throughout history, women have felt the need to live up to and change themselves to match what is glorified and labeled as beautiful. The pressure put on women can be toxic and harmful, leaving those who don’t match the current definition of beauty feeling like they are not good enough. 

Dove completed a study called "The Real Truth About Beauty" where they found that only about 4% of women worldwide think of themselves as beautiful and 72% of women feel pressure to look beautiful. Many women lack confidence and society’s beauty standards that are set for us play a big role in this. 

“80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful, but do not see their own beauty,” according to Dove’s research findings. 

The problem with beauty standards is that they are an unrealistic image that society has set for women to live up to. They frequently change throughout the years and women are expected to change themselves to fit the image if they want to be perceived as “pretty” or “beautiful.” 


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Julianna is a senior majoring in journalism and sociology. She enjoys writing and reporting on topics related to mental and physical health and wellness.


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