Fashion and beauty trends change so quickly now that a look that we thought was dope as little as a couple of years ago might make us cringe like crazy today. But while the popularity of emoji print t-shirts, high-low skirts, or heavy contouring might ebb and flow at a rapid rate, beauty standards come in slowly and have must stronger staying power. Their staying power is actually so strong that we can be a little shocked when we realize that what we’ve seen as the norm–wanting to be incredibly thin, thigh gaps–have only been a beauty standard for a hot second in the grand scheme of things. In other words, things that are sexy right now weren’t always sexy.
The intentions of this post aren’t to body shame girls who wear a size two, or mock women who really love a summer spray tan. The intent is to make us all a little more woke about the fact that some of the most rigid beauty standards that we might resent or aspire to achieve haven’t been around forever, and maybe there’s hope out there for a more inclusive idea of beauty in the future. But for now, let’s just check out these seven sexy things that only because sexy recently. Who knows, maybe thighs that actually touch will make a comeback some day soon.
Being Incredibly SkinnyIf you go to an art museum, most of the women in the old paintings you'll see probably couldn't fit into a size zero. In fact, you'll probably see a bunch of back rolls, love handles, and thick thighs. In western culture, being incredibly thin wasn't always an ideal. For many, being thin meant that you probably didn't have much money and couldn't afford to eat. In he '40s and '50s, skinny women were the target of body shaming ads that blamed their thin frames for everything from unpopularity to a crap love life. Can you imagine an ad like that now? LOL, nope! Instagram/Nasty Gal
Having A Thigh GapHaving a thigh gap was nowhere near my radar in my teens. Being skinny? Sure. Thigh gap? Uh, no, nobody talked about that. Thigh gap honestly just became a thing a few years ago, and now it's gone from being idealized in the dark, thinspo corners of the internet, to becoming a mainstream sensation. Newsflash: whether or not your thighs touch literally doesn't matter. At all. AT ALL. It's not an indication of how skinny or how pretty you are. Let's try to forget that this even became a thing. Instagram/Dolls Kill
Being Totally HairlessBody hair removal has been a common practice in plenty of cultures worldwide for thousands of years. But today, rigid expectations towards female body hair are on a whole other level. This isn't news to any of us, but what might be news to you is the fact that this is all pretty new. Like, really new. Sure, women were shaving their legs in the '50s and '60s, but making sure that their pubes were ancient history too? That's only become popular over the last couple of decades. Seriously, check out some vintage issues of Playboy or Penthouse, any old school porn: You'll see pubes galore, and it wasn't seen as gross or unsanitary. iStock.com
Having An Ultra Toned, Athletic BodyIn many ways, the popularity around athletic, strong women is a bit of a relief from ages of being told to idolize waif frames of visible ribs and protruding hip bones. People like Blogilates' Cassey Ho represents a body positivity that focuses on exercise and wellness as opposed to starvation diets. But, still, let's not get it twisted: Women with athletic bodies are only really propped up as "goals" if they're also rather slender and not too muscular. Of course, there are active, athletic women of all body types, but only a certain subset get praise. Instagram/Blogilates
Having Big LipsAs a black woman, I've always had big lips and I've always liked them. I like them despite the fact that black people with big lips have been lampooned for centuries, and the fact that someone once told me--albeit jokingly--that I have DSLs: Dick sucking lips. Small lips were the western standard of beauty for ages; look back at films from the 1920s and check out the way that actresses made sure to make their lips look as small and pert as possible. But now? Oh man, big lips are ultra popular...thanks to white celebrities. Most recently, Kylie Jenner has helped bring big lips into the beauty spotlight in a big way. If you don't believe me, do you think it's a coincidence that some clinics claim that there's been a 70 percent increase in inquiries about lip injections. Instagram/Kylie Jenner
Being Super TanWe live in a colorist world that praises lighter skin over darker skin. But recently, that hasn't stopped lighter skinned people from obsessing over having tanner skin. In many cultures, having darker skin indicated that you were of a lower class and worked outside all day, thus, leading to tanned skin. Hell, that's still the case in many. People have done everything they could--packing on the makeup, staying far away from the sun--to remain pale. But over the past few decades, tanned skin has became so popular that you don't even have to rely on the sun anymore, you can get three shades darker from a spray can. Does that mean that colorism isn't a problem anymore? Of course not. But it's interesting to see who can benefit from darker skin and who just gets treated like crap for it. Amazon.com
Having Pale PrivatesOf all of the beauty standards, this one is just starting to become a lot more commonplace. Basically, thanks to porn, people started to notice that some private bits and pieces (okay, the butthole and labia) were darker than the rest of one's skin tone. The solution? Bleach the hell out of it, because nobody wants a dark butthole! Bleaching, unfortunately, has been around for ages; but bleaching the privates? Much newer. Amazon.com
If you had to get rid of one newer beauty standard, what would it be? What other new beauty standards need to GTFO? Tell us in the comments!