Ancient Egypt (c. 1292 – 1069 B.C.)
Women in ancient Egypt enjoyed many freedoms that would take thousands of years for women to enjoy again. Ancient Egyptian society was sex-positive, and premarital sex was entirely acceptable. Women could own property independently from their husbands, and could initiate divorce from their husbands without shame. Women could even inherit titles, even become Pharaoh.
Art from this era of ancient Egypt tells us that long, braided hair was an important aspect of female beauty. Braids framed a symmetrical face, and women wore thick black kohl around their eyes. Women are shown as slender, with high waists and slim shoulders.
“No one wants to see curvy women.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Ancient Greece (c. 500 – 300 B.C.)
Aristotle called the female form “a deformed male,” ancient Greece was pretty male-centric. The ancient Greeks were more focused on the ideal male physique than women’s, meaning that it was the men of this time period, rather than the women, who had to live up to high standards of physical perfection. This sounds good, except that this meant women were body-shamed for not looking like men.
Nudity was a common part of ancient Greek society, but sculptures and paintings of nude women were often covered. It is thought that the first important female nude sculpture in classical Greece was Aphrodite of Cnidus, who showed that beauty in ancient Greece meant plump and full-figured bodies.
“Girls are like country roads, the best ones have curves.” – internet meme
Han Dynasty (c. 206 B.C. – 220 A.D.)
Chinese society has been patriarchal since ancient times, which as a result minimized women’s roles and rights in society. During the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history, feminine beauty meant delicate, slim bodies with a radiating inner glow. Women were expected to have pale skin, long black hair, red lips, white teeth, and a graceful walk with small feet. Small feet were an aspect of Chinese beauty that would continue for hundreds of years.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde
See other: Ideal Female Body Types Throughout History