Cosmetics and invasive treatments might have taken over the world in the recent past, but there was a time when women were celebrated for their natural bodies. Being thin wasn’t always in fashion, nor was the desire to be skinny. In fact, the definition of “sexy” has undergone major transformations over the years. This article from Vine Vera Skincare traces the history of sexy from the Renaissance era to the modern age to show how the definitions of beauty have changed over the years.
The Renaissance Era (1400’s to early 1600’s)
The women of the Renaissance era were famous for being voluptuous. These full-figured ladies were the epitome of sexy at the time. The concept of blondes having all the fun seems to have arisen in the Renaissance era as well. Light hair was in fashion, and women really tried all sorts of things to lighten their hair color. When it came to cosmetics, pale ivory skin with hints of vermilion to tint the lips was considered to be the most fashionable.
The Victorian Era (1837 – 1901)
Women of the Victorian era were famous for being body conscious. For them, being sexy was to have the least possible waistline, and they made use of corsets to achieve this look. Some corsets were worn so tight that it became difficult for the women to breathe, quite literally. Other things like bustles, hoops and petticoats also came into fashion at the time. Modest makeup was the best look to go for during the Victorian era. Bold colors were reserved for prostitutes, and many religions termed the use of cosmetics as devilish.
The early 19th century wasn’t exactly relaxed for the ladies. They had to take part in rigorous chores (without the help of modern-day machines) and also had to walk for miles to get from one place to the other. As a result, the women were broad and strong, and they really didn’t pay too much attention on their figure. The early 19th century was more about survival of the fittest.
One of the most drastic changes in world fashion came in the early 1920’s. At the time, women didn’t wish to sport a feminine look and therefore, aimed for a “boyish” figure. As unbelievable as it might sound to be, women actually used to tape their chests in order to give their breasts a flattened look. As a result, beauty was defined by baggy clothes and short hair at the time.
The early 1930’s gave birth to what we call modern-day fashion. It was an era when women realized that they could be strong and independent without having to compromise on their looks and their sex appeal. Natural waists were once again in fashion and padded bras also came about. The 1930’s were defined by women starting to think about what they ate and the food choices they made. Exercising wasn’t the norm, but some women did use weights to maintain their figure.
The forties fashion was tremendously impacted by the World War II. Women gained more strength in the workplace (since most men were away fighting the war), and they used this new-found freedom to their advantage. The bodies became curvier, and the hemlines began to creep up. Women actually started flaunting their bodies and felt confident about it.
The 1950’s were perhaps the best era for sexy. Marilyn Monroe took the world of fashion by the storm, and almost every woman in the world wanted to look like her. The fifties woman embraced her body and looked at her hips and breasts as a sign of good health and fertility.
Numerous changes came about in the 1960’s that impacted world fashion and sex appeal for many years to come. The sixties were defined by women longing to look skinny. Body fat and muscle were considered to be out of seriously out of fashion. The boyish look once again began to dominate the definitions of sexy.
The seventies simply continued from where the sixties left off. Being super thin was the craze and women actually began to feel the social pressure to look thinner than everyone around them. Most eating disorders also began to crop up in the 1970’s as women tried everything in their grasp to “look sexy.”
Sexy simply completed an entire cycle in the 1980’s. World fashion was defined by the fitness craze. Things like strength training, dancing and aerobics became extremely popular thanks to people like Jake Steinfield, Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda respectively. Toned muscles were considered to be sexy and women focused on aerobic exercise as a means to look feminine. On the other hand, eating disorders continued to rise.
Women were back to looking skinny in the 1990s and models like Kate Moss certainly didn’t help things with their super slim figure. The nineties were constantly defined by a woman’s struggle to look thin and her desperate bid to try everything to achieve her goal.
The media impact had some drastic side effects on beauty. This era was perhaps known to be the worst era for women because of the concepts of airbrushing that transformed “sexy” into what the media wanted it to be. This made the woman of the 2000’s strived for the unimaginable – the Barbie look.
By 2010, Woman began to give exercise and aerobics their due importance. A muscular and well-built look came back in fashion as it showed a position of strength. Sexy was no longer about being skinny. Sexy was all about being fit. Women across the world strived for a solid figure, without hurting their overall feminine looks.
Of course, the current definition of sexy is bound to change in a few years. However, Vine Vera believes that sexy is in a much better place than it was about 20 – 30 years ago. And with the ever increasing focus on good health and fit bodies, things certainly augur well for “sexy”.