Summary: Through the centuries, one element of human existence has remained: our quest for beauty. While societal definitions of beauty may tend to fluctuate in response to economic and social circumstances, humans have always spent their time, energy and resources in pursuit of beauty. When it comes to beauty in the modern age, how can the history of appearances broaden our understanding of our own definitions of beauty?.
Beauty: Not Just a Human Concern
The pursuit of beauty often comes with a connotation of vanity and extravagance. However, the desire to achieve a certain appearance is in reality very natural. Most mammals make efforts to prune their appearances to attract a mate, achieve social status in a group or increase their chances of survival.
Similarly, humans have always been well aware of the benefits of improving their appearances. Whether to reflect a certain social position, appear healthier and more youthful or maintain an attractive look for our current or prospective partners, there are a host of valid reasons that men and women alike pursue beauty with enthusiasm.
To some, the idea of undergoing surgery to improve the appearance of one’s face or body may seem a signifier of our modern society’s concern with superficiality. A glance through history, though, quickly shows that such measures are hardly out of the ordinary.
Chinese women once bound their feet to appear dainty and feminine while the Japanese would lacquer their teeth black to distinguish between married and unmarried women. English women once swallowed tapeworms in order to stay thin and attached leeches to the sides of their faces to drain their blood and create a pale complexion.
When you look back throughout human history and across cultures, the development of plastic surgery is really only a natural step in advancing technology and safety rather than an extreme beauty measure.
Modern Beauty Standards
Modern beauty standards still vary from culture to culture and even from state to state. Some trends, however, can be tracked throughout most definitions of beauty. Large, uplifted breasts and a rounded posterior signify youth and fertility in women, while sculpted chests, abs and arms in men signify strength.
Most cultures of today’s developed world prefer relatively thin bodies in both sexes, perhaps since an abundance of available food has created obesity issues. On the other hand, in many parts of the developing world where food is scarce, plump bodies are seen as more desirable and can signify wealth.
Today’s Most Popular Cosmetic Procedures
Indeed, these trends can be seen reflected in the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures today. Breast augmentation, tummy tucks and liposuction are some of the most popular cosmetic procedures, while breast lifts and buttock enhancement follow closely behind. Among nonsurgical procedures, BOTOX® Cosmetic and injectable fillers remain popular among men and women alike interested in appearing more youthful and vitalized, while nonsurgical facial enhancement can help improve facial proportions for a more balanced appearance.
What Beauty Means to You
None of us are entirely uninfluenced by societal standards for beauty, but definitions of beauty still vary from one individual to the next. As much as pursuits of beauty have varied across cultures and time, one aspect remains the same: individuals strive to appear beautiful in order to feel more confident and embrace their appearances. For many men and women today, plastic surgery provides a welcome boost in self-esteem and quality of life. No matter what beauty means to you, striving to achieve it can be a wonderfully rewarding experience.