The Controversiality of Beauty Standards

Isabella DeLeon

Beauty standards in America have shifted over time, but have always been a taboo subject to most people. Because beauty is subject to one’s personal opinion on how different features “aesthetically” appease them, different ethnic features have fallen in and out of conventional favor over time. 

Over the last few years, the notion of conventional beauty standards has been increasingly challenged in the public sphere – namely through social media. Changing beauty standards over time displays just how futile it is to limit the definition of beauty to a particular standard that generally fits a specific group. 

For example, according to Science of People, in terms of body types, the 1920s favored slender women with a boyish stature. On the other hand, society of the 1930s-1950s, only a few decades later, favored curvier women with a more “hourglass” figure. Standards of what are deemed as conventional are constantly changing, meaning that strict definitions or standards are unrealistic and a hindrance to an acceptance of people’s differences. 

Social media and certain beauty or fashion brands have become more open about speaking out against strict beauty standards, paving the way for a more open-minded view of beauty in society. In terms of makeup and beauty, brands such as Fenty Beauty, MAC Cosmetics, and Maybelline have adopted more inclusive beauty standards to accommodate people of different skin tones, colors, ages, and races, factors that were not as widely considered just a few decades ago. Similarly, in the realm of fashion, brands such as Reformation, ASOS, Gucci, and Aerie have created more body positive and plus-size inclusive lines and/or accessibility of more inclusive clothing. 

When people see how brands in the public sphere are shifting away from conventional beauty standards and ideas, they are often more encouraged to be more comfortable with themselves and/or support brands and companies making real strides to mend the gap of traditionally exclusive/unattainable beauty standards – of being fair skinned and thin – with more realistic and diverse images. It is important for leading designers and brands to encourage the embracement of unconventional or untraditional beauty to help foster inclusivity and body positivity, moving us away from the disheartenment of reaching for the unattainable convention.