Victorian airbrushing: cultural, physical and artistic representations of upper-class women of then and today

Date
2009-01-01
Authors
Fuller, Katie
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Kathleen Hickok
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English
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English
Abstract

Today's society, much like that of the Victorians, perpetuates the impossible standards of female beauty permeating the culture in music, art, entertainment, and fashion. The existence of a female beauty standard is not new; it persists today, just as heavily as in Victorian England more than a hundred years ago. The physical representation and image of the model Victorian woman seems pervasive during the era, appearing in art, literature, poetry, culture, and sociological studies. Just as before, the wealthy are those most likely to attain the standards of beauty--largely because wealthy or upper middle-class women possess the leisure time and finances to strive to live up to these standards: the airbrushing of today has merely replaced the corsets of that day. Studying popular literature from the period including Peter Ibbetson(1891) by George Du Maurier and Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1895) by Thomas Hardy, will provide late-century examples of such representations of the ideal feminine woman. Essentially, this perfect woman is a caricature of a real human being, rendered in an artist's imagination. Even more sad for women today, just as in Victorian times, the social acceptance of these ideals allows them to be perpetuated. Society as a whole subscribes to these ideals, despite their impossibility, and swallows them--internalizing these impossible standards without question.

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