Female Beauty Standards in Ancient Greece

Did the ancient Greeks have an analogue of the modern concept of “glamor”? Yes, they had the word “kalokagatiya” (translation options: “beautiful and kind”, “beautiful and good”), which meant the harmony of external beauty and internal virtues. Well-known philosophers talked about such harmony: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. In what way should the external beauty of ancient Greek women be manifested?

First of all, in the harmony of bodily proportions. Unlike wild barbarians and oriental peoples, who preferred puffy beauties, the Greeks considered an athletic, and at the same time feminine physique to be ideal. One of the most famous ancient sculptures, Praxiteles’ statue of Aphrodite of Milo, reflects this ideal. She is a slender woman with a graceful posture, 164 cm tall.Sizes of her chest, waist and hips: 86, 69 and 93 cm.

The great mathematician Pythagoras in the VI century. BC. discovered the principle of the so-called “golden ratio”, according to which the whole refers to its larger part as large to its smaller one. A century after him, the ancient Greek sculptor Polycletus calculated the ideal canon of beauty. An ideal body should have the following dimensions: the head is one-seventh of the height, the hand is tenth, the foot is sixth. The navel divides the body into two parts, the ratio between them should be close to the “golden ratio”. The ideal proportions for men are 8 to 13, and for women – 5 to 8.

In antiquity, much attention was paid to the face. According to the canons of Greek beauty, a beautiful face combined a straight line of the nose, passing into the forehead (the so-called “Greek profile”), large eyes, arched eyelids. The distance between the eyes is no less than the length of the eye, and the ideal mouth is one and a half times this distance. The brow line should be rounded and the forehead low. The chin is straight and not too pronounced.

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Women’s hairstyles in ancient Greece did not differ in variety, being variations on the so-called korimbos, aka “Greek knot”. At the same time, the most beautiful was considered the “golden” hair color. Or any other light (“ash”, for example), so the Greek women sought to bleach or dye their hair, if it was naturally dark. The hair of the women of Greece was supposed to be only on the head, all other vegetation on the body was carefully removed by the antique beauties.

The skin should have been light too. Sunburn was considered a sign of a redneck, as peasant women were forced to work in the scorching heat of the Mediterranean. Therefore, the skin was also bleached in all possible ways: bathing in donkey’s milk, ointments, peeling (for which fine river sand soaked in lotus juice was used). Known in ancient Greece and face masks. For example, a barley dough mask gave the skin an interesting pallor, and for freckles and wrinkles, a mask was used from a mixture of swan fat, honey and vinegar.

The word “cosmetics” is of Greek origin, its root is the word “cosmos”, that is, order and harmony opposed to “chaos”. The antique ladies were well versed in makeup and actively used it. Initially, married people were imported to decorate their faces (the best compositions were delivered from India, Arabia and Egypt) and therefore it was considered not very expensive cosmetics, only getters could afford it. But over time, these prejudices became a thing of the past, and all Greek women used cosmetics.

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Lead white was very popular; as a blush, the dye carmine, which was made from cochineal, or a cheaper cinnabar, was used. Chalk powder and red clay lipstick were also known in ancient Greece. The eyebrows were inked with soot, the lashes were shine with a mixture of light resin and egg white. Cheeks and lips were tinted with antimony. There was also a special composition for eyeliner made from ash and antimony, diluted in saffron infusion.

In ancient Greece, a special profession of a hairdresser appeared, they were called “kalamistra”. This craft was taught to slaves, since rich customers did not at all want their rivals to use the unique secrets of beauty. Special ointments, lotions and beeswax were used to give the hair shine and volume. On special occasions, the hair was sprinkled with gold powder on top. And from the IV century BC. wigs appear.

So ancient Greek women in their pursuit of beauty were in no way inferior to women of any other country and era.

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