Double Standards for Men and Women Over Time – the History of Ideal Beauty for Females

by on March 7th, 2015
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A Focus on Ideal Female Beauty from Early History

While many people today may feel that society’s culture has set a double standard between men and women even more than before, history shows us that a double standard about beauty over males and female has been around since much earlier times. According to the online dictionary, part of the definition of a double standard is “an unwritten code of sexual behavior permitting men more freedom than women.”

Just like the controversial questions on feminine beauty are asked today, so too have the standards of the ideal woman been used to oppress females in a male dominant society caused great debate. From early history, females have acted in a matriarchal role in the domestic sphere of cooking, mothering, and cleaning. Women were expected to be maternal figures, make many children often, and always be submissive to their husbands.

On top of these sexist roles that have at least seen a pretty positive change today, even old artwork of women from early civilizations show the existence of feminine double standards. Just as picture shows, video games, and graphic novels usually portray exaggerated (from bigger breasts to thinner waistlines) physical traits of females, women also used to often be shown as such through stone designs, statues, and oil paintings. Even the most ancient, first discovered statue of a female woman figure, called Venus of Willendorf, had very large breasts and a maternal figure, signifying her form acted as a standard to the ideal female image.

Today’s Double Standards between Men and Women

Today, the double standard that exists between men and women is more apparent. While little is seen in social media that focuses on masculine male beauty or the male body type, women are almost always under close study, looks wise. From makeup commercials to hair shampoo or conditioner advertisements, women are depicted to be always young and beautiful, happy and pleased, and having natural good looks. This false advertising puts a vast amount of stress and pressure on the female population, who find it very hard to compete with these high, and altogether unrealistic, standards.

Even more troubling is that the males who see these commercials and advertisements usually then base the females in their lives to those unrealistic standards. From Egyptian and Greek roots to American culture today, women have been and still are put under culture and society’s pressure to fit the ideal form of female beauty, mainly in the cosmetics part. In order to preserve this ideal face and image and therefore fit these double standards, many females today resort to cosmetic surgery, including rhinoplasty (also called a “nose job”), which they should not have to resort to.

Can Society Put an End to Double Standards and Stop the Focus on Female Beauty?

Even with society’s current views, there is a positive hope to change the culture we all live in today concerning the role and battle of the sexes. Many people across the world have already begun to challenge these wrong double standards between men and women, instead tackling head on the ideal image of female beauty. Female politician and author, Naomi Wolf, even says in her popular 1991 book, The Beauty Myth, that there may be a “conspiracy culture” that has made females in society focus more on their appearance than on their dreams in life so that women will stay insecure, unconfident, and dependent on men.

While it may appear that changing this wrong double standard for women is a far off in the distant future, it is important to remember that vast progress has already been made. Women’s rights are still being fought for each day, and many ad campaigns and movements are in effect to support a healthier, more realistic ideal of female beauty.

Since society has become more conscious of the unfair criticism and pressure placed on females today to fit the stereotype of the ideal female body or look, affirmative development can be made. By treating both men and women equally, ignoring the double standard of men and women, and instead concentrating on the substance of female character rather than their physical image, the culture of society can make an alteration for the better.


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