We examine some of the extremes people have gone to in their search for perfect beauty.
Appearance has been important throughout the centuries. Cleopatra and other ancient Egyptians had a practical beauty regime: some women shaved their heads to keep cool. Heavy black make-up (kohl) was considered beautiful and act as a protection against eye disease.
The Chinese used to consider tiny feet a mark of beauty, leading women to bind their feet and causing pain for life. Foot-binding was forbidden by the Communists but its effects can still be observed among Chinese older women.
Elizabethan women "painted" their faces white with highly dangerous lead-based make-up in imitation of their pale-skinned Queen. Ladies also shaved their hairline to give the appearance of a high forehead like the Queen's. Men and women have been wearing wigs and corsets for centuries.
Cut it out!
To recreate the look of your favourite star, using make-up or copying their eyebrows using stencils, seems quite tame comparing to having hair sewn into your head, silicon put into your body, or having parts of your body reshaped or even removed to improve your appearance. Everyone knows about (and noticed!) the changing face of Michael Jackson. However, the rumour that Cher had her bottom two ribs removed to make her waist thinner seems too crazy to be true. An American woman, Cindy Jackson, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars having cosmetic surgery -27 times so far! She wanted to bring Leonardo da Vinci's ideas of a classically proportioned face to life. Did it work? Her nickname is "the human Barbie doll", so it's probable.
Is beauty in the eye of the beholder?
As the number of people having cosmetic surgery increases, fewer people now regard it as "unnatural". As ancient history shows, those in the public eye and in positions of power and health were often perceived as the most beautiful people around. The situation hasn't changed much. Experts say that these days we are constantly shown images of "beauty" and "perfection" through the media, and told that those who achieve beauty, achieve success and happiness. Presumably then, the longer your life will be successful and happy, too.
A. Read the text and decide whether the following statements are True or False. Quote from the text to support your answer.