Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Ways the Definition of Beauty Has Changed

        Health | Hygiene Tips

Go Golden, Girl

Pale skin ruled as a beauty standard for centuries. Both men and women applied ceruse, a lead-based white paint, to their skins in an effort to look fairer, and some people would paint delicate blue lines on their face to demonstrate their wealth and status, or their "blue blood." Suntans were for members of the lower classes, who had to spend their days outside, working in the fields.

At the turn of the 20th century, however, bronzed skin became the new fashion must-have. Coco Chanel famously got sunburn on a yachting trip, which spurred her acolytes to start spending more time in the sun. Doctors of the day began prescribing sun therapy, which was quickly adopted by the upper classes, as were outdoor sports (the poorer people had moved into factories, so spending time outdoors was no longer seen as déclassé). Even today, when we know about the dangers of the sun's rays and the risks of skin cancer, people continue to lounge in the sun or visit tanning salons in the hopes of achieving bronzed skin.