Digital History>Topics>Beauty & Fashion

Overview of Doing History through Beauty and Fashion

Digital History TOPIC ID 26

Today’s supermodels wouldn’t always have been considered beautiful. Standards of beauty have shifted radically over time. During the 1830s, a popular ideal of feminine beauty was the demure woman, with wasp-waist, rosebud mouth, wispy fingers, and tiny feet.

After the Civil War, a popular ideal was of a woman who was curvaceous, big-hipped, and buxom.

In the 1890s and early twentieth century, the aristocratic and sporty Gibson Girl was a popular ideal. The Gibson Girl was known as the century's first pin up.

First sketched by Charles Dana Gibson in 1902, this imaginary woman was to represent the ideal woman. She became known as the liberated young woman with the characteristic upswept hairdo. Created using a combination of the Marcel wave and postiche, the Gibson Girl look was to last a quarter of a century. The hair style consisted of a soft pompadour, puffed for a cloud effect, rolled from temple to temple over a horsehair rat to give it the width that went well with a tiny waist.

In the 1920s, a new ideal was the boyish, buoyant Flapper.

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