From Bootylicious To Browlicious – Beauty Trends Of Yore (Part 1)

Revisiting Facebook photos from my teenage years requires a glass of wine and half a Xanax. Seriously, whoever says walking down memory lane is enjoyable probably didn’t have social media in high school. My 2010 makeup is more painful than my 2008 hairstyle, and my 2009 outfit choices are straight up breakdown-worthy. OY! My Facebook constitutes a Where’s Waldo puzzle of bygone style catastrophes. Furthermore, my (many) teenage awkward phases are documented for the world to see. But, hey – so are yours. Thanks, Zuck! On the other hand, my Facebook profile also serves as an anachronistic index of beauty trends (or, at least, looks that I considered acceptable) from 2008 (when I first got Facebook and “honesty box” was still a thing) until the present. So, really, it’s more of an artifact than an embarrassment. You’re welcome! After a recent argument with a friend regarding when, exactly, my eyebrows went from Lindsay Lohan to #goals, I became intrigued by the development of beauty trends over time. Since there are no Facebook profiles to navigate beauty trends popular before, say, 2000, I decided to conduct my own research. 

Photography by Peter Stigter

My examination begins with the early 1900s, when a full face of makeup was expected only from prostitutes and movie stars, and considered otherwise taboo (#freethepimple). Then, the ’20s strutted onto the scene: alcohol was illegal, nightclubs were underground, and an ultra-thin boyish figure was à la mode… basically, if the 20’s were a bar, I’d be kicked out. But that’s beside the point. Doll lips, pale complexion, and heavy makeup ruled the flapper scene, and a full face of makeup became acceptable for the first time in history. During this time, Helena Rubinstein, a fellow #fiercefemale, invented a lipstick that was shaped to contour the heart-shaped pout that was oh-so desirable. Oh Heyyyylena!

Source: Getty Images

But the ‘20s glory didn’t last for long. In 1929, the stock market came crashing down like me that one time I attempted a keg stand – loud, sloppy, and utterly catastrophic. A curvier, fuller figure came into style because eatin’ good indicated prosperity and class (ie. You could afford to eat. This stands in stark contrast to the present situation, in which people with means can afford to eat but actively choose, it seems, to remain freakishly thin). During this ultra-bleak fall from grace, your average woman had less money to spend, so a more prudent approach to cosmetic use prevailed. The pale complexion that trended in the 1920’s was so over – in the 1930’s, style was all about a natural complexion.

Photography by Jason Laveris/Filmmagic

The 1940’s came around and “victory rolls” were on the rise. No, these are not the victory rolls you wake up to when you blackout and inhale an entire Domino’s pizza at 4am. The term “victory rolls” actually refers to a postwar hairstyle that abounded during this decade, and which many celebrities (cough, Katy Perry) have unsuccessfully attempted to imitate in years thereafter

Photography by Joe Cohen/WireImage

The rise of the victory roll was accompanied by a more practical, natural look, with a full brow that more closely resembles today’s cosmetic style. Thank you, Grace Kelly! And we have landed ourselves in the 1950’s, when Marilyn busted on the scene (no pun intended). Look out for next week’s post to find out what happens next! FYI, that was supposed to be a cliffhanger. Take it or leave it, honey.

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