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Male Beauty The Past Present and Future

Male Beauty: The Past, Present, and Future

Learning about male beauty gives us insight into history, culture, and the challenges men might face in their daily lives. Here’s what you need to know.

Male beauty has changed over the course of history and varies depending on the culture.

It’s important to bring light to this topic to see where beauty standards started and where they might go.

Male beauty isn't often talked about. The lack of discussion could be the result of stereotypical gender roles, societal pressure, or even a lack of understanding. Either way, it's essential to shed light on this topic. Boys and men have their own share of beauty standards to live up to. Similar to women, this can affect males in both productive and harmful ways. Let's break into this topic to gain a better understanding.


The ancient Greeks and Romans

It's essential to turn our eyes to the ancient Greeks and Romans. These cultures impacted western society through art, philosophy, government, education, and of course, beauty.

The ancient Greeks and Romans idolized the male physique. You can find statues of herculean men in dominating poses. These civilizations valued a gleaming chest, bright skin, and broad shoulders. What's different is that these societies valued intelligence as much as physical fitness. The Greeks believed that a beautiful physique was directly connected to an equally beautiful mind.

The 16th Century

Things changed during the medieval and renaissance period. We often see depictions of nobility wearing ornate velvet outfits filled with ruffles, feathers, and other embellishments. You might see large hats fully decorated with jewels and charms. Today, these extravagant outfits might be seen as more feminine.

The Gilded Age

Large men with a heavy stature were celebrated from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. This time period was known as the Gilded Age. Weight was a signifier of wealth, status, and power. It was thought that if you weighed more, you didn't have to work as hard or do manual labor.

Men who weighed over 200 pounds were considered attractive, wealthy, and treated with respect. There were even clubs and groups across the nation to celebrate these traits.

The 1920s – 1940s

Exiting the Gilded Age, we move into the world of Hollywood! During this time, Hollywood stars were gaining increasing amounts of popularity. Male and female actors were expected to be lean and slimmed down for their roles.

Beauty expectations changed a bit moving into the 1940s. During this period, the fitness and health industry started to hit its stride. Icons like Charles Atlas encouraged men to bulk up and fill out their physiques. The idea was to build confidence and respect through large muscles and strength.

The 1950s – 1960s

The 1950s and 1960s built upon the fitness standards from the previous decade. World War II and the Great Depression were over; men were concerned about physical domination in favor of corporate success. Men still wanted to look large and imposing but achieved this through executive roles and suits to match.

The 1960s brought slimmer suits and physiques, along with a more suave style. Imagine Sean Connery in the first James Bond film. Men also started to wear cardigan sweaters, polo shirts, and even tropical button-ups.

The 1970s

Hippies, flower children, and free spirits captured the spotlight in the late 1960s and throughout the '70s. This beauty standard revolution endorsed thin frames and androgynous looks with the help of icons such as David Bowie and Mick Jagger. Bright colors, fringe, and leather were popular choices.

However, conservative men still existed. They would sport tighter-fitting clothes, bell bottoms, and of course, a well-groomed mustache.

The 1980s

The 1980s were an exciting time filled with bright neon colors, denim, and high-volume hairstyles. On the flip side, action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger brought traditional masculine values to the forefront. Hitting the gym and building an imposing physique were common values amongst men.

The 1990s

The ‘90s was an iconic time period for today's generation. Street styles and hip-hop influences took center stage with cultural icons such as Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and Dr. Dre. Bright patterns, Coogi sweaters, bucket hats, and overalls were popular choices.

Grunge music and fashion were bubbling beneath the surface during the ‘90s. Influence from bands such as Nirvana brought ripped jeans, leather jackets, and metal accents.

It's not uncommon to see men sporting androgynous and unisex outfits, either. Men are becoming more comfortable with this side of themselves, wearing nail polish, makeup, and clothing that reveals more skin. The influence may come from K-Pop styles, influencers, and fashion sub-genres.

What the future might hold

It's hard to pinpoint what the future might hold for male beauty standards, but one thing is for sure: fashion is constantly changing with new and old trends.

The rise in fashion subgenres and style aesthetics could lead to an increase in niche groups. Androgynous, unisex, and traditionally effeminate looks will likely continue to gain mainstream appeal.

Techwear, minimalistic styles, and modular clothing might also gain more traction. We might see garments focused on function and utility rather than pure style. Technology might even bleed into these pieces creating an even larger "cyberpunk" feel.

It's also possible that a resurgence of traditional masculine values and style choices could hit mainstream appeal, and young men might rebel against the androgynous movement by hitting the gym, wearing timeless looks, and holding conservative values.

Regardless, it won't be a problem wherever men's fashion and beauty end up. There will always be a need for new and fresh looks that pull inspiration from the past, present, and future. Different subgenres and aesthetics will be a welcome addition, as they challenge each other and the status quo.

Male beauty is equal parts interesting and important. These standards are fascinating because they provide insight into the culture. The topic is essential to discuss, so we can recognize the beauty pressures men might face, for better or worse. Regardless, you can wear whatever you want and express yourself to the fullest. Don't let any standards or pressures keep you from being who you want to be!

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