Modern Beauty Standards Imposed on Classic Art Show Narrowness of Today’s Ideal

Dr. Rebecca Hains

Several years ago, I was admiring the Venus de Milo at the Louvre when a group of American teens approached. Eyeing the statue, one girl blurted out: “She’s so fat.”Her friends laughed and agreed, but her comment just made me sad. The girls were surveilling the Venus de Milo in the same way that our culture has trained girls to surveil themselves and one another: to always be attuned to whether females are living up to our culture’s beauty ideal—and to judge and condemn those who do not.

Besides, the Venus de Milo is most certainly not “fat.” She just differs from the body type that has become the hard-and-fast ideal over the past century. But because these teens were so accustomed to the Photoshopped norm, they couldn’t see the beauty in this classic work of art.This series of retouched masterpieces reminded me of that experience. No doubt some…

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