With videos like "100 Years of Lingerie in 3 Minutes" or "100 Years of Beauty: Germany," the Internet has been treated to gorgeous viral videos that show the glamorous side of women's lives throughout history, but according to Polish costume blogger Karolina Zebrowska these videos are leaving out reality.
"As a person interested in the history of fashion and beauty it really bugged me how inaccurate some of these [videos] are. The beauty standards they show are almost always our contemporary stereotypes of the past decades," Zebrowska said on her blog.
Stereotypes, as Zebrowska's video demonstrates, that often ignore the reality of women's lives throughout the 20th century. We prefer to remember women of the past as glamorous fashion ideals rather than real and, often, struggling people.
So Zebrowska made her own "Beauty Through the Decades" video, this time accurately reflecting the fashion demanded of women at different times of economic stress.
"To be frank, it was supposed to be just another 'Beauty Through The Decades' video. I saw lots of them already, but they all have seemed to show beauty standards in a very stereotypical and pop culture way, so I wanted to do a more historically accurate one," Zebrowska said in a caption accompanying her video. "As I was doing some research, I became more and more aware that beautiful faces and fashion we see on the photos, ads and fashion plates are just an idealistic version of reality. So here's to reality."
Though Zebrowka's video only covers 1900-1940 and specifically considers white women living in the West, the imagery is a powerful commentary both on how we view the past and who we think the women of the past were.
For instance, when we look at the lovely Gibson Girl of the 1900s we see the feminine ideal at the time.
But women of the time were more likely to be physical laborers in factories than high-fashion socialites. In the United Kingdom, as much as 40 percent of those working in factories were women.
We remember the flappers and silver screen sirens of the "Roaring '20s" with fondness.
In Russia, though, 1 in 9 women were domestic workers like maids and nannies.
The contrast between the reality and the ideal is stark.
Other beauty videos have considered historical exigencies of the time, including Cut Video's "100 Years of Beauty," which depicts cultural and political shifts as they relate to fashion, notably the division between North and South Korea in "100 Years of Beauty: Korea."
Zebrowska's video adds another layer of commentary to how we interpret history and see women of the past. We're here for the reality.
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