The article is actually titled Perceptions Of Female Beauty In The 20th Century
but the article revolves around how different fashions developed.
Still, it’s an interesting read…
by Louise Wood
The 20th century has seen a huge upsurge in the importance placed by Western society on physical beauty, particularly for women. The fashion, cosmetics and plastic surgery industries have thrived on 20th century preoccupation with physical appearance. It is a preoccupation that affects women in every sphere, whether they choose to pander to it or not. This essay examines female beauty in the 20th century in terms of popular culture, in particular fashion, cinema and advertising. before exploring these areas, I intend to deal briefly with basic definitions of beauty. The main body of the essay will then be concerned with an overview of each decade's particular take in female beauty.
According to Kant, the judgement of beauty is different from cognitive or moral judgement because it is effected subjectively, that is, exclusively in reference to the person making the judgement. For a judgement to be truly “aesthetic”, rather than merely idiosyncratic, the person making the judgement must be adamant that their opinion be consensus. “A person who describes something as beautiful insists that everyone ought to give the object in question his approval and follow suit.” Plato, one of the earliest philosophers to concern himself with beauty, defined it as a “property intrinsic in objects” which could be measured in “purity, integrity, harmony and perfection.”
Definitions of beauty in the 20th century, when referring to human physical beauty, are nearly always constructed in terms of outward appearance and sexual attractiveness. Nancy Baker's definition is The Beauty Trap is more concerned with intangible personal qualities. “A truly beautiful woman makes the best of her physical assets but, more importantly, she also radiates a personal quality which is attractive.” In Beauty In History, Arthur Marwick defines a human physical beauty in more direct terms: “The beautiful are those who are immediately exciting to almost all of the opposite sex.”
For the first two decades of the 20th century, many of the attitudes towards beauty associated with the 19th century remained. In Victorian society, it was considered a woman's duty to make herself beautiful. In the early 20th century, this was coupled with the idea of “self-presentation” as enjoyable, expressive and creative. However, some of the more bizarre and painful “beauty aids” of the Victorian age continued to be marketed well into the 1920s. A particularly unpleasant example is “M.Trielty's Nose Shaper”, described as a “metal object ... held over the nose by straps buckled round the head and adjusted with screws.”
The rest of the article: http://barneygrant.tripod.com/p-erceptions.htm