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100-Year-Old Photos depict some of the most beautiful women from all over the world

Nikola Budanovic

The idea of female beauty has changed throughout history, ranging from celebrating maternal curves to imposing ideals of a skinnier representation of women. Although the standard has changed, we are safe to say that some beauty is considered timeless, no matter the period.

The first two decades of the 20th century was a period when the image of female beauty was going through a transitional period, influenced by the emergence of photography, cinema, and the mass media.

It was the time when the belles of the silent era reigned supreme, challenging stereotypes about women while sporting some of the most iconic looks in history.

A Filipino mestiza woman in 1875

A Filipino mestiza woman in 1875

Maude Adams as Phoebe in Quality Street (1901)

Maude Adams as Phoebe in Quality Street (1901)

Elegant, feminine, but also capable of succeeding in a man’s world, some of these women were at the forefront of the liberation that was taking hold, changing their position in society.

What adds to the charm of these photographs is the fact that most of them were taken more than a century ago. They continue to inspire the fashion trends of today, while nurturing the eternal beauty of original divas of the silver screen.

However, among them are not only movie stars but also opera singers like Lina Cavalieri, or members of royal families, such as the oldest daughter of Nicholas II Romanov, the Grand Duchess Olga, who met her tragic end with the rest of the Romanovs during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.

Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina

Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina

Cléo de Mérode (1875 – 1966), French dancer, circa 1903

Cléo de Mérode (1875 – 1966), French dancer, circa 1903

Silver gelatin photograph of a Malayali woman in the 1900s

Silver gelatin photograph of a Malayali woman in the 1900s

Ethel Warwick (1882 – 1951), British actress

Ethel Warwick (1882 – 1951), British actress

Cléo de Mérode

Cléo de Mérode

Pretty Nose (c. 1851 – after 1952), Arapaho war chief

Pretty Nose (c. 1851 – after 1952), Arapaho war chief

Carolina “La Belle” Otero, Spanish actress, dancer and courtesan, circa 1890

Carolina “La Belle” Otero, Spanish actress, dancer and courtesan, circa 1890

Miss N (Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit by Gertrude Käsebier), 1903

Miss N (Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit by Gertrude Käsebier), 1903

Lily Elsie (1886 – 1962), English actress and singer

Lily Elsie (1886 – 1962), English actress and singer

Lina Cavalieri, Italian operatic soprano

Lina Cavalieri, Italian operatic soprano

Lone Bright Eickemeyer, Broadway actress, photographed by Rudolf Eickemeyer Jr. 1912

Lone Bright Eickemeyer, Broadway actress, photographed by Rudolf Eickemeyer Jr. 1912

Camille Clifford, Belgian actress

Camille Clifford, Belgian actress

Gladys Cooper in fancy-dress costume

Gladys Cooper in fancy-dress costume

Marie Doro, American stage and film actress, in 1909

Marie Doro, American stage and film actress, in 1909

Marie Doro (1882–1956)

Marie Doro (1882–1956)

Mary Pickford, American-Canadian film actress

Mary Pickford, American-Canadian film actress

Postcard of Maude Fealy as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet Source

Postcard of Maude Fealy as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet Source

Ethel Clayton, American actress of the silent film era

Ethel Clayton, American actress of the silent film era

There are also theatre actresses and ballerinas, together with women hailing from exotic parts of the world, like the Philippines.

Contrary to their European and American counterparts, the woman of Philippines has no make-up, reflecting the cultural differences and providing an insight into the ideal of beauty among the peoples of the Pacific.

Lehnert Landrock – Ouled Naïl Girl – Algeria – 1905

Lehnert Landrock – Ouled Naïl Girl – Algeria – 1905

Maude Adams (1872 – 1953), American actress

Maude Adams (1872 – 1953), American actress

Maude Fealy, American stage and silent film actress

Maude Fealy, American stage and silent film actress

Portrait of photographer Rita Martin by her sister Lallie Charles, c. 1907

Portrait of photographer Rita Martin by her sister Lallie Charles, c. 1907

Publicity photo of Anna May Wong

Publicity photo of Anna May Wong

Theatre Magazine pub. 1913

Theatre Magazine pub. 1913

So, feel free to scroll through these early photographs that formed the beauty standards of an era that might be long gone, but still echoes within our time.

Read another story from us: Redheads have been Feared and Vilified Throughout History – Here’s Why

Let us know in the comments what you think about the trends that shape our view of beauty and how they change and correspond with the times we live in.

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