100 Years of Beauty Part 17: Egypt

We’re still playing catch up from our months of inactivity here. One of the series I lost track of over the last two months was the fantastic series from CutVideo exploring a century of beauty standards from around the world. The last one I saw was Part 16, Japan. Since then there have been three more installments for us to work our way through. Let’s start today where we left off. Part 17 is Egypt.


Egypt is one of those grey areas in culture, having been at different times considered part of the Western world and in others part of the Middle East. (Technically it’s part of Africa, but white people try to ignore that, since it doesn’t fit their preconceived stereotype of “Africa.”) We can see this battle of cultures throughout the decades as the standards swing wildly from one extreme to the other.

The “Western” years (from the 1930s to the 1970s) strike me as more directly influenced by the southern European styles, like Italy than they are by the American ones. The rise of political Islam in the 1980s puts an end to all that though. The “Arab spring” imagery at the end is supposed to be uplifting, I suppose, but knowing how the revolution has ended with the rise of ISIS and the Syrian crisis makes it feel more bittersweet than anything.

Since we’re running late on these, the research video is already up. Video researcher Jacinthe Assaad walks us through how the politics of each era influenced the fashion choices.


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