Take a quick look around and you can see that self-image is extremely important to virtually everyone’s lives. Beauty and fashion trends have changed so much over the past few years (Never mind the decades!) that it’s hard to exactly pinpoint what happened when and what exactly ‘it’ was.
WatchCut Video has released several episodes of a series called 100 Years of Beauty on YouTube. These one-minute videos give you an idea of what life was like at the time through beauty trends by the decade from different parts all over the world! Here’s an example:
I remember these looks so vividly from growing up in the 1990s and 2000s until now. I remember spending hours getting my hair braided to look good for school every week. Even when I look through a family photo album, I can see the seventies through pictures of my mother and her friends rocking afros!
The videos are so fun to watch! I like to sneak peeks at the fast motion transitions between the decades. It’s crazy to think about all of the time that goes into each look! My favorite part of the series is that I learn a little about a country through the fashion. Here is a video of Ethiopia from 1900 to today.
The media often portrays African Nations, Ethiopia in particular, as very poor – and that’s about it. Yet this video shows that the nation has had its own fashions throughout the years! From afros in the 1940s to Kim Kardashian locks today! It shows Ethiopia as a fashion hub where people are reinventing the way they look.
One of the things I love the most about these videos is the research that goes behind the images of each country through the years. WatchCut Video does a wonderful job of explaining what each look means and how it came about. Here is an explanation of Germany done by the visual anthropologist who produced the video:
After World War II, Germany was divided into two nations: the democratic West and the Communist East. Each country grappled with the end of World War II and German culture in entirely different ways. West Germany continued to present the ‘fit, healthy, clean’ image of beauty associated with Germany like we see with the pop group Nena. East Germany dealt with political repression through punk music.
Fashion is such a great way to learn about the world! The way people dress reflects the lives and cultures of different parts of the world. It teaches us history and the way people perceive themselves.