Hollywood and the Evolution of Beauty
The Hollywood starlets who made cinema a little more colorful.
To be a Hollywood beauty icon in the 1950s, you must have three things: a pink satin dress, large diamonds on your wrists, and beach blonde hair. By whose standards, you ask? Well, none other than Marilyn Monroe. Her iconic performance of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in 1953 lives on. In fact, modern pop icons like Madonna and Kylie Minogue continue to reference it in their music. And, whether it be her red lips or luscious blonde curls, Monroe’s Hollywood image is one of the greatest purveyors of American beauty standards. Her likeness remains unmatched.
It’s no secret that Monroe and other classic Hollywood stars have an undeniable influence over beauty standards. However, there is a string of actresses who introduced a novel definition of beauty standards. In other words, these unsung heroes of film pushed for diverse and inclusive beauty through their appearances in Hollywood. As a result, these starlets cast a larger net over the definition of beauty. Their status proves more and more that beauty is in all shades.
The following are a few actresses that challenged the norm and diversified beauty in Hollywood:
Anna May Wong
Anna May Wong introduced Asian beauty to the big screen. Unfortunately, racism cast a shadow over her career and focused on her exoticization. Despite this, she was one of the most elegant women in Hollywood. Her winged eyeliner, sleek hair, and feline features would only pale against her revered acting skills.
Along with the many groundbreaking accomplishments of her musical career, Diana Ross also found her way to the big screen. Playing Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues, she added her flare to film and 70s beauty. Not only did she receive an Oscar nomination for leading actress, but she also launched a new set of beauty ideals. Diana Ross helped her fans learn to celebrate their curls.
Dolores Del Rio
Del Rio shattered boundaries in the world of cinema. She was the first Latin Actress to play a major role in Hollywood during the 1920s and 1930s. Starring in movies like Birds of Paradise and Flying Down to Rio, her doe-like features enchanted onlookers. She was an icon who effortlessly represented Mexican beauty.
Dorothy Dandridge was the first Black actress in Hollywood to receive a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. While this is more than enough to be proud of, Dandridge also charmed audiences with her signature red lipstick look. Alongside her rich caramel-colored skin, Dandridge offered a new take on Hollywood glamour.
Accredited as Hollywood’s first Indian actress, Merle Oberon dazzled in The Dark Angel. As a result, she would eventually be nominated for the Academy’s best actress. Her dark locks, long-eyelashes, and familial background reached out of the classic blonde bombshell box. Her dark and striking features introduced a novel look for Hollywood.
Isiah Magsino ventured from the West Coast to NYC to study and pursue a career in journalism. He began his career during his senior year at Fordham University, covering fashion parties for Vogue, and has since ventured into other realms such as luxury travel and wellness. Isiah believes in curating one’s life properly and strives to cultivate a life filled with beauty, patience, and mindfulness.