Male beauty isn’t something we talk about very often, but it has changed just as much as female beauty over the last few decades. And if we dig deeper into pop culture history, we’ll find out that men used to look very different from what we’re seeing today. Guys went from ‘the manlier, the better’ to some sweet-looking dudes and even sweeter-looking teens. But one thing we can say for sure – handsomeness is still trendy! Here’s how male beauty changed over time – from 50s till now.
50s were the time of flirty rockabilly and passionate singers like Elvis Presley dancing and singing their hearts out on stage. Actor Marlon Brando was one of the biggest male trendsetters of the time. He popularized the ‘tough boy’ look he rocked in The Wild One movie – riding a motorbike in a leather jacket.
60s got more frivolous in terms of male beauty. Everything was accepted – from stars with boyish features and dreamy eyes to athletic men and skinny rock stars. Alain Delon was the poster boy of the 60s and kept thousands of women glued to the screens with his handsome looks. It was also the time of psychedelic rock and hippie movement, so the boundaries of what was considered beautiful for men went as broad as possible. Figures like Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison captivated millions of people with their looks, talent, and charisma.
While middle-class men didn’t think much about looking athletic and muscular, the movie industry experienced a testosterone boom with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone rising to fame. It was the beginning of a bodybuilding craze that would take over the 80s, but the most famous actors still looked just moderately athletic, using their charisma more than their body. Think Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino. The 70s musicians developed a somewhat quirky fashion, sporting glam rock attires and crazy makeup. David Bowie was one of the biggest inspirations of that time.
The athletic craze took over the movie industry in the 80s and most of the films at that time revolved around one incredibly powerful superhero, who really looked the part. He showcased bulky muscles and cool martial arts moves that allowed him to beat dozens of enemies at one go. Jean-Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Lee inspired thousands of men to hit the gym and transform their bodies, making male beauty more masculine than ever. Musicians, on the other hand, went totally wild with their looks, with Michael Jackson, Prince, Elton John, and George Michael becoming the biggest trendsetters.
The unattainable bodybuilder’s physique quickly went out of trend as it was hard for guys to associate themselves with the bulky heroes fighting bad guys on screen. The ideal physique everyone was striving for became moderately muscular, lean, and with a good-looking six-pack. Brad Pitt in Fight Club was the biggest inspiration of the 90s male looks. On screen men appeared to be good-looking and well-built, but they used their wit much more than muscles. Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis, Pierce Brosnan, Keanu Reeves, and George Clooney were among the most prominent actors of that time.
2000s saw the decline of the messy grunge trend and the rise of metrosexuality. It was now okay for guys to pay extra attention to their looks – from carefully cut hairstyles to nails and skin care. No one was going crazy over muscular physique – even slender actors could steal the heart of millions (like Orlando Bloom as Legolas in The Lord of the Rings). Leonardo DiCaprio’s career took a huge turn with Titanic and The Beach, proving that you don’t need to be muscular to become a superstar. It was also the time of black emo hairstyles with a hint of glam rock makeup here and there, while hip hop was popularizing heavy jewellery, chains, and baggy pants.
Muscular men got back in trend as more and more comic book movie adaptations were made. Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Hiddleston, and James McAvoy were among the most popular actors of the time. They had great physique, but didn’t rely fully on it. Male beauty was more about style, personality, and charisma. Hipster style was most popular among both young and adult men – it often incorporated wearing slim pants, glasses, and various hats. A bit later a natural-looking beard was added to the look.
Handsome masculine looks are still as popular as ever, but right now younger actors are stealing some of the spotlight from the big stars of 2010s. Tom Holland turned into a world-known star after joining the MC Universe as Spider-Man. Finn Wolfhard rose to stardom playing Mike Wheeler in Stranger Things and landing a role in IT, the book-to-movie adaptation of Stephen King’s famous novel. Game of Thrones, a TV show that dictated its very own standards of beauty, gave us Jason Momoa and Kit Harington, proving that the younger generation still has a long way to go.