Last night Abe and I went to a "History of Medicine" dinner at the hospital. As students we got to go for a very nice price. It ended up being us and a bunch of older librarians and doctors (we met the director of the Hardin Health Sciences Library and the MD/PhD who started Abe's MD/PhD program about 40 years ago among others). I actually really enjoyed the company, who were all very friendly and interested why "young people would choose to come here tonight" when they were forced by work.
I really enjoyed the lecture which focused on World War I and the effects it had on plastic surgery and the beauty market. Essentially, plastic surgery was legitimized by a plastic surgeon who was trying to help soldiers left mutilated by the war look normal enough to rejoing society after losing parts of their faces such as eyes, noses, jaws, etc. Makeup also was introduced to American women after a Jewish woman named Helen Rubenstein fled Europe and worked to change make-up into a non-morally suspect enterprise. I guess up until this time, women who wore make-up were considered quite trashy. Women were also trying to look more like the male heros of the war by cutting their hair, binding their bosoms, or even receiving breast reductions.
A historian sitting next to us informed us that women in the US shave their legs because around this time Gilette/Schick had their hands on the male market and decided to encourage women to shave their legs to improve profits. Women of war torn Europe could not afford to do this and to this day, do not shave their legs to the extent we in America do.
I thought this was all very interesting. It made me think how fickle we are, that we judge so harshly on things that are so easily changed such as the trend for no makeup and makeup or small breasts verses large breasts (by marketing, not science or legitimacy).
I find I am one who regrets the pressures put on women for beauty. I found it ironic that the very daily practices I feel I must to for an almost moral reason of self pride (makeup, deodorant, shaving) were uncommon or even shunned until money changed that all. In a way I wish we didn't place that emphasis on status quo looks and the need to wear makeup. I know many would argue the opposite, however, that makeup has given them a great opportunity to improve themselves. I guess for me I sometimes dislike the almost guilt I feel when I choose not to buy into the marketing each day. I hate feeling "ugly" or like a "scrub" because I chose not to wear make-up to work when practically every male does the exact thing each day and look just fine.
A lot has changed in 100 years.