How Asian beauty standards have changed over 100 years

How Asian beauty standards have changed over 100 years
PHOTO: Youtube screengrab

How much has beauty and fashion trends evolved in 100 years?

If you have about two minutes to spare, take a look at an entertaining series of clips put together by lifestyle site Cut, which shows how women from different nationalities evolve in style throughout a century.

The short videos showcase women and men's fashion and beauty trends from countries such as Russia, United States, China, Japan and Korea.

Makeup artist Katya Gudaeva, who worked on the North and South Korean beauty trends, said the common thing about Asian women in the past was to have "really pale skin" and "natural aristocratic beauty".

Therefore, she said it was no surprise that the 1910 look for South Korean women was to have really pale skin.

For the model's look, Gudaeva had her painted in a shade that was four to five shades lighter than her natural skin tone. Powder was also patted on for a matted look instead of the popular "dewy glow" commonly seen today.

Back then, people also enjoyed natural looks in the 1910s - opting for rosy lips and thick, dark eyebrows, observed Gudaeva. Blush and contouring - seen today on Hollywood stars like the Kardashians - were also not favoured.

Between 1910 to the 1950s, Korean women also looked to Japan for fashion styles, said researcher for the project, Robin Park. Thus, the beauty trends between the two countries may look similar.

After North and South Korea split in 1945, their beauty trends started to differ vastly.

In communist North Korea, people were valued by how much they can contribute to society, said Park, so the "labour look" was considered beautiful - which is looking plain and being in plain clothing.

In the South, capitalism was sought after so beauty trends were influenced by Japan and the US, noted Park.

Fashion trends in China were also diverse - with some looks focusing on internal beauty and you have looks which are influenced by western countries, said Park, who also did the research for the video.

In 1910, women wore clothes with very high collars and many women liked to split their long bangs in half - straight down the middle.

This look is probably popular with women from a middle class background, she shared. How women looked was also dependent on their socio-economic status, with those from a less wealthy background not having time nor money to spend on their looks, said Park.

Like South Korea and Japan, China was also influenced by the US in the 1920s.

1930s was an interesting era for fashion in China as the Chinese IT look - the "Shanghai Girl" - emerged.

With Shanghai being a port city, it became a melting pot of diverse cultures from art to architecture and of course, fashion.

Women started to have bigger, fluffier bangs, and hairstyles with perms.

In the 1950s, however, the beauty standards took a 180 degree turn when the late Mao Zedong took power, said Park.

China then followed communist-led North Korea in favouring a no make-up, tanned and "healthy" peasant look.

After the end of the Mao era, foreign influences started to trickle back into China and perms, bangs, youthful looks came back into style.

The videos also highlight the power of celebrities like Zhang Ziyi and the K-pop hallyu wave which helped push styles and beauty features like large doe eyes and pale skin back in trend.

wjeanne@sph.com.sg

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