100 Years of Beauty Part 22: Puerto Rico

Hallelujah, the bill to save Puerto Rico’s economy has passed! In celebration, CutVido has made them their subject for the next installment of 100 Years of Beauty.

Before we dive into this, there’s quite a few asterisk that go along with Puerto Rico as a subject. Whereas we have seen several videos where countries have split apart, or come back together over the course of the 100 year span (Korea, for instance, Germany, for another), Puerto Rico’s video functions entirely in a split screen for the full 100 years–but not because the country is split in half. Nor is this like Japan, where the more Westernized standard of beauty is contrasted against the more recent, more rebellious looks of the Kawaii movement.


Instead the split screen is an acknowledgement that there are two halves of Puerto Rican culture–one on the island, which is not actually a recognized state, but a commonwealth territory that continues to demand someone give it states rights. The other is the enormous urbanized population that immigrated to New York City after the Spanish-American War put the island under US rule in 1898.

Some interesting points of order:

The 1910s and 1920s are exactly as the stereotype you would expect from “island” culture versus “urban” culture, as accessories are the domain of New Yorkers.

All that flips in the 1930. Suddenly the urban women are wearing headscarves and looking demur and discreet, while those on the island are wearing dark lipsticks and extreme trendy hairstyles.

In the 1960s it’s less that it flips back as the New York culture gets ultra modern while the island culture gets ultra westernized. It’s not until the 80s pass that we see the return to a more “urban” look versus a more “island” look again.

The 2000s are startling because the look is so similar–the minimalism look for urban chic accidentally coinciding with how people look “back home.” But it’s short lived. Once the recession clears, the Urban look–with the winter hood–is the biggest contrast of them all–and our first open nod to climate change affecting an area because of the overly harsh winters in the last decade.


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