Eye-Opening Photos That Show How The "Ideal" Woman Has Evolved Over The Decades

No matter whom you are or what you do, there are always ideals of beauty to live up to. Trouble is, they’re always changing! And if you were born before the turn of the millennium, you’ve already lived through several distinct eras, each with their own different ideas about the perfect woman. It’s hard to keep up.

A history of beauty

But spare a thought for those poor women who were born in the decades before you. Ladies of both the near and distant past have had to do all sorts of crazy things — covering themselves in toxic products, dying their hair with urine — to try to look pretty. Maybe it’s best to just appreciate that beauty comes from within?

Ancient Greece — 1200 BC-323 BC

The look: Round figure, pale skin, red hair, dark eyes

Plenty happened in Ancient Greece that set the foundations for the modern day. But beauty standards were very different back then. We know from statues and drawings that the Greek goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, was presented as a large and full-figured woman. Women of that era had to suffer to look like Aphrodite, though.

Bad ideas

Greek women were so desperate for pale skin that they used a paste called “ceruse,” but we know now that it was toxic and wouldn’t have done them much good at all. And you can argue that the Greeks’ whole perception of beauty was toxic. They believed that physical attractiveness was proof of goodness, so if you were ugly you were plain out of luck.

Late Renaissance Italy — 1520-1600

The look: Round figure, rosy cheeks, blonde hair

The Renaissance formed beauty standards for women that still echo in the world today. But, unlike the modern age, the people of that era didn’t value thinness. Their ideal female figure was, yep, one with lots of flesh on her. Some of the things they did value, though, led to big trouble.