Femina|January 24, 2020

Revisit the notions of beauty that were predominant in the past decades, and how they have paved the way for 2020, says Eden Noronha
Eden Noronha

If you were to look up the meaning of beauty, you’d probably stumble upon a generic definition that says: The quality of being pleasing to the mind or senses. But who decides what is beautiful and what isn’t? Beauty standards are often guided by superficial criteria but that doesn’t mean they are set in stone. At some point in history, each body shape, size, complexion, or any other physical attribute has been considered beautiful. It is a mindset that is influenced and changes over time, which in turn results in different aesthetics and opinions. Join us on this journey through the decades to look at the perception of beauty in each era, and how it has shaped new-age beauty standards.


A post-war period, the ’50s witnessed a boom in the beauty industry. Women indulged in a more exuberant lifestyle as compared to the times of war that preceded the decade, where economic growth was slow.

Women of this era had curvaceous bodies, and a penchant for red lips and soft curls. Bollywood beauties like Meena Kumari, Madhubala, and Nargis showcased these facets as they graced the big screen. Hollywood also gave us one of the world’s most popular icons in Marilyn Monroe, whose signature blonde curls, blood-red pout, and the strategically placed mole, generated enough buzz to last a lifetime.

But if you’re thinking that red lipstick was accepted by society back then, you’re wrong. Lipstick was considered a symbol of adult sexuality, and this notion urged parents to curb teenage girls from wearing it. Since red lipstick was frowned upon, as a form of rebellion a few teenagers began sporting pink and peach lips, which soon became a rage. By the end of this decade, lipsticks gained popularity and acceptance.

Celebrity makeup artist Kapil Bhalla says, “In the ’50s, women discovered pancake makeup, rouge, and eyeliner. Hair was always in place with sugar-water setting lotions. Structured hair with ringlets framed the face. Whether it was Madhubala or Marilyn Monroe, these divas rocked the winged eyeliner.”


With major social and political upheavals, music gained momentum as a means to protest. Thus, emerged fresh and diverse beauty standards during the Swinging Sixties. British-American hairstylist, Vidal

Sassoon’s pixie cuts were cool in the west as celebrities like Twiggy and Audrey Hepburn stole the limelight. Hair and makeup saw a flair for drama with bolder trends coming into play. Extended winged eyeliner and bouffant hairstyles ruled the roost. The idea of nude lipsticks was born in this era with the introduction of chalky white or flesh-tint lip shades in matte and glossy textures.


You can read up to 3 premium stories before you subscribe to Magzter GOLD

Log in, if you are already a subscriber


Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines


January 24, 2020