Getty ImagesLast week, while watching the season finales of two popular shows- 'Mad Men' and 'Jersey Shore'- we were struck by a significant and salient point: Women in the past looked better than we do today, like a WHOLE LOT BETTER. Sure, 'Mad Men' is a highly-stylized, fictional depiction of a bygone era, and the 'Jersey Shore' reflects the "reality" of a small and specific cultural subset (namely East Coast guidos). We also know not every woman in the '60s was perfectly coiffed and manicured and wearing the ideal shade of red lipstick and, to be fair, not all modern ladies walk around looking like Snooki, BUT-from Oompa Loompa skin to obnoxious breast augmentation to ratty extensions- the women of the 'Jersey Shore' represent quite a few of the ugliest beauty trends of the past decade.
It got us thinking of a sort of larger beauty timeline, about how a population of females can travel from that '60s-pulled-together-and-pretty appearance to, well, JWOWW. It made us ruminate on how the fresh-faced hippie look of the late '60s led to the sparkly-sex appeal of '70s disco, how disco begot over-the-top '80s power makeup, '90s grunge-chic followed, along with late-'90s sleek city girl (thanks Carrie Bradshaw!). Unlike these distinct trends, the aughts have seemed both identity-less and kind of ugly, more of an amalgamation of all of the decades (plus ones that came before them) and creepy modern innovations like spray tans and Botox. Don't believe us? Check out the decade's worst of the worst:
1. The Fake Tan, aka the 'Soul Man'
Does anyone but us remember the 1986 movie 'Soul Man' where whitey-white actor C. Thomas Howell takes a bunch of "bronzing" pills so he can pass as a black man and get a scholarship to Harvard? The film has many, many problems (racism, stupidity) but perhaps chief among them is how Howell's skin more resembled the shade of Ernie from 'Sesame Street' than anything close to African American.
Weirdly enough, this alien-cum-Muppet look was highly sought after in the aughts, when pale, natural skin became essentially banned from the red carpet and everyone from Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton to Christina Aguilera and Jessica Simpson strutted around with a sort of orangey tanorexic glow.
2. Excessive plastic surgery
Why, for the love of God, would an attractive young woman endure painful, expensive surgeries to make herself look like a waxy, duck-lipped cartoon? Beats the heck out of us, but that's exactly what reality star Heidi Montag and thousands like her opted for in the aughts, creating expressionless faces and the kinds of bulbous bustlines we'd never seen before and, frankly, we never need to see again.
3. This haircut
Kate Gosselin birthed eight children total, and, rather famously, six at one time. She endured a highly public and seemingly painful divorce, was vilified by the press for behavior she may or may not have indulged in on a popular dancing show, and has appeared on countless magazine covers for having a great body! Raising Kids! Etc! Still, she may always be best remembered for the follicular atrocity at left, a reverse-mullet haircut that terrifies us but became a massive craze in 2009.
4. The Snooki Pouf
When the 'Jersey Shore' debuted last year, dozens of women's magazines and fashion blogs were earnestly abuzz with just how to get Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi's signature hairstyle-with some even comparing the look to Sarah Palin's more modest 2008 campaign 'do.
How this happened is still beyond our understanding, though we're happy to see that, in 2010, the look was relegated to where it belongs: The Halloween costume rack.
5. Drawn-On or Shaved Eyebrows
This Annette-Funicello-'50s beauty throwback got even thinner and less natural this time around, with naughtier, more sexualized celebs like Pam Anderson penciling them in and runway models (and 'America's Next Top Model' makeover recipients) wearing no eyebrows at all.
6. The Return of Crimping
Wavy hair went electrical-socket wild once again, when an unloved '80s styling technique returned with a vengeance in 2008, but (thankfully) flamed out just as fast.
Photo by MAC cosmetics
7. All things black
Seen on everyone from Lady Gaga to runway models, Rachel Zoe, and your mom, ultra-dark lipstick and nail polish made a huge splash in the past few years, starting with deep, deep burgundy and moving quickly to jet-iest jet black.
Call us old-fashioned, but we could never get fully behind the look, which seems particularly harsh and unfeminine, especially as it went from edgy urban stylista to commonplace 'Real Housewives."
We have to agree with Kanye West about this particular beauty trend. Last month he tweeted, "Please don't let girls start wearing dark lipstick again. I just think girls need to know that guys don't really like black lipstick."
Our question: Do girls like it either?
8. Shaving your head, on one side
This half-shaved haircut, or what we like to call, "army on the right, lady on the left" was found in some truly odd places in 2009, like on pretty singer's Cassie's head and the famous noggin of Carmen Electra. It's kind of ugly, it lacks versatility, and worst of all, if you don't like it, there's nothing you can do to correct it, FOR MONTHS, save wearing a perma-hat.
9. Sad lip liner
More than a new trend, or even a re-imagined old-trend, this is a look from the '90s that some women (like strippers and, sadly, at least until 2007, Kim Mathers) refused to let die. It involves drawing a thick outline of your lips with a dark pencil and then, doing nothing else, as if your mouth is a coloring book that's never been colored in, or a two-dimensional cartoon awaiting CGI, or like you took an art class once but stopped going after you learned "tracing."
It's a heinous technique, it ages the wearer, and no one should ever do this again in all of the land.
10. Hair extensions
African American women have supplemented their own hair for decades by weaving in sleek, natural-looking faux-hair pieces-usually to quite beautiful-looking effects. Not so much for the white gals, especially the blondes, who, since around 2000, have used Rapunzel-length weaves that have been bleached to a hay-like consistency and look like mangled princess wigs that were once maintained by a group of toddlers. The worst perpetrator of this hair trend has to be Britney Spears, who has famously walked around, ill-groomed and with half of her extensions falling out.
Other terrible white-girl weaves of the past decade: Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Brooke Hogan, Amy Winehouse.
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