The Future of Fashion: Fact Checking Tyra Banks’ Beauty Predictions

Photo courtesy of Digitas Photos via Flickr, modified by Curiousmatic.

In July of 2014, fashion model superstar Tyra Banks published her predictions on the future of fashion and beauty in the Wall Street Journal.

The America’s Next Top Model host made some wild and wicked speculations that sound a lot like science fiction. Though they were purely based on Banks’ opinion, we thought we’d investigate for fun. Is there fact behind any of these futuristic fashion ideas?

Traditional beauty will be less valuable—and more uniqueness will be heralded:

  • Though “traditional beauty” has changed drastically over time, basic symmetry has been shown as pleasing to the eye across genders and cultures.
  • Beauty is also extremely subjective, as every human perceives and is drawn by different tastes and brain responses.
  • Past studies have indicated that averageness is a strong indicator of physical beauty, though uniqueness in personality impacts perception and may be more important. 

Plastic surgery will be as easy and quick as going to the drugstore for Tylenol:

  • Plastic surgery is indeed growing. Between 2012 and 2013, minimally-invasive cosmetic procedures rose 3 percent. Worldwide, over 23 million procedures were performed–a global rise from just half a million in 1992.
  • Many think plastic surgery is being commodified, fostered by competition and lower prices, in spite of the dangers that come with cheap quality surgery.

There will be no hair extensions. Women will be able to grow their hair in 24 hours by applying serum to their scalps:

  • Unlikely. In spite of the beauty industry’s push for “hair growth tricks,” hair grows at a genetically programmed rate: about half an inch per month.
  • Meanwhile, hair extension sales are rising.

Due to food scarcity, curvy hourglass bodies will be the aspirational beauty standard as a sign of affluence:

  • Global warming may indeed cause food scarcity: According to the UN, it’s already begun.
  • The preference for hourglass figures is not new, having been aspirational as a sign of fertility throughout history– though not without exceptions.
  • Even so, beauty standards have morphed toward thinner ideals in the past several decades, as unhealthy food and body fat is increasingly correlated not with wealth, but poverty.

The features of one’s baby will be as selectable as menu items at a fast-food drive-through window– the most popular eye color choice will be dark brown:

  • Banks has a point. “Designer babies” may be right around the corner, with a patent recently granted to company 23andme that would enable parents to choose what traits they wanted for their babies.
  • That said, parents still want babies that look like them. Studies show that evolutionarily speaking, fathers in particular identify resemblance to form paternal attachment.

Skin color and features will mesh into a similar shade for the majority of people and prejudices will disappear:

  • With interracial marriages trending upwards, some evolutionary biologists believe the human population will eventually be homogenized. The theory dates back to the at least 1925.
  • Others say human beings are growing less alike genetically, evolving away from one another instead of merging.
  • Regardless, prejudice is thought to have an evolutionary basis as a function of group living. To rid the world of judgement is extremely wishful thinking.

All fashion models will be robots; everyone will have at least one personal robot/assistant/companion:

  • 1.5 billion people have smartphones, and those are kind of like assistants. Right, Siri?
  • Still, robots still have a long way to go to learn like humans. Japan is a step ahead of the rest of us, with SoftBank’s personal robot Pepper set to hit the U.S. by summer of 2015.
  • Models aren’t one of the many professions predicted to be taken over by robotics. (But unsurprisingly, Japan has created a robotic runway model as well)

For those who choose not to go for plastic surgery, beauty ingestibles (active waters, etc.) will give instant, yet temporary results:

  • Very unlikely, as there’s no evidence that anything can alter bone structure aside from surgery or injections. Ingestibles may help skin, though, and there’s always makeup.

Women’s empowerment will be an irrelevant concept because the balance of power between the sexes will have shifted dramatically. Women, in control of when they can have children (up to age 120!), and having more degrees and education than men, will be in charge.

  • Women are already better educated than men. However, they are still paid less, and have less leadership positions.
  • Longevity has increased due to medical advancement, and is going up. Some futurists believe people of the future will live forever, and even reasonable scientists predict radically longer lifespans.
  • Currently, having children tends to take away power from women rather than grant it, as motherhood is still associated with lower pay. However, artificial wombs and a trend toward equalization could change that.
  • A woman-ruled planet might not be so bad.

What do you think of Tyra Banks’ predictions, and the research that supports or disputes it? Tweet us @Curiousmatic. 

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