Beauty has always been a prominent subject since the beginning of time. Although beauty can be found everywhere and anywhere, with today’s use of social media, the ideal beauty has its negative affects on society especially young people.
Since the beginning of time, there has always been an ideal beauty which people felt the need to look up to and desired to be alike. As a Maltese citizen, historical findings show that during pre-historical times, the ideal beauty during the time was that of voluptuous women – wide hips and full breasts. This can be seen in the artistic statues of ‘Il-Mara l-Hoxna’ meaning ‘The Fat Woman’, which represented fertility.
Mara l- Hoxna, 4100 – 2500 BC
Fast forward to the 16th Century, a drastic change in the ideal beauty of women during the Renaissance show a different kind of beauty represented in Art. The majority of the paintings during the time present a similar kind of beauty. Painting ‘Italian Florentine Portrait Of A Lady In Red ‘ displays a woman with light eyebrows and a wide and high forehead. Having a big forehead during the Renaissance was an essential trait of beauty.
Italian Florentine, Portrait Of A Lady In Red,1460
In the 17th century, women during the Pre-Raphaelites era were portrayed having long red hair, a slender figure and harsh facial features. These were considered to constitute ideal beauty. As one can see, the ideal beauty transforms throughout time according to the relevant and specific ‘trends’ based on societal norms, and industry pushed influences.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lady Lillith, 1866
Beauty during the 18th century portrayed the woman as high class by having big hair, beautifully dressed in tight corsets and big dresses and most of the time, the woman is painted smiling. During the time, a woman’s role in life is being a wife, a mother and a housewife doing chores. Painted a smiling woman is a representation of the sad time where the woman had no choice but to be seen as happy, as the man was in charge of the family. Luckily, nowadays we have equality where man and woman have same values and laws. However, the ideal beauty of today has its own negativity.
Thomas Borough, Portrait of a Lady in a Blue Dress, 1777
With today’s social media, the ideal beauty can affect many people’s perception of how a person should look like. Women in art are most of the time pictured as having a small waist, curvy hips but slim figure, a small nose, big lips, perfect hair… almost impossible to achieve without enhancement. Also, with today’s vast technology, the use of digital manipulation is used throughout the globe. Therefore, the ideal beauty of today can be called as ‘fake’. It has manipulated everyone’s perception of natural beauty impinged on false and fake social-manipulations.
This has created body issues among many people especially teenagers. The ideal beauty is not only advertised on paintings like the 16th or 18th century, but it is being advertised through TV, billboards, Facebook, Websites, Adverts and also Art. With that being said, Art has come a long way and artists now have freedom of expression where awareness can be raised through Art. It does not have only negative impacts, however working as a model has made me change my views on how models are seen as object (most of the time).
My experience in modeling has not been easy, and I would not say that it was how I expected it to be. To be a model, one needs to be strong. I do consider myself as a strong person, although I also consider myself as being a person who stands up by my own strong beliefs. Through my experience I have met clients who were not happy that I do not have a small model frame, with some photographs even cutting and manipulating my hips in order to fit within the industry’s ‘ideal’ size. My hair and my eyebrows had been constantly criticized for not being ‘in trend’ as I prefer a natural look. Also, there were various times where clients did not offer food as ‘models barely eat’. It is how social media has portrayed female objectification.
Through research and studies in Art I have come to realize that this has been going on for the beginning of time. However one must stand up to himself and raise awareness for what is happening. I had stopped modeling and focused on Art, although I do sometimes do photoshoots, with my own willing, how I want and being my own boss, I also create Art in order to create awareness . Best thing you can do is don’t let others get you down. Stay humble, be what you want and send out the message that beauty comes from within, it is not how the media tells you. Be the best you can be.