Beauty Defined

What is beauty? How can an abstract concept such as beauty be defined? That question has been pondered for ages. An anonymous person once said “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Beauty means something different to everyone but there is a general agreed-upon standard of beauty in our society. As defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, beauty is “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : LOVELINESS ”.

It has also been defined as “the phenomenon of the experience of pleasure, through the perception of balance and proportion of stimulus. It involves the cognition of a balanced form and structure that elicits attraction and appeal towards a person, animal, object, scene, music, idea, etc…” The philosophical discipline of aesthetics aims to understand the nature and meaning of beauty. Two kinds of beauty were distinguished by composer and critic Robert Schumann ; natural beauty and poetic beauty.

Natural beauty is found in the examination of nature and poetic beauty in man’s cognizance. According to Schumann, in music or other art forms, both types of beauty exist. A familiar theory holds that beauty is the appearance of things and people that are good. Our society judges the physically attractive as “good”. The popular quote “beauty is in the eye of the beholder, “ maintains that beauty is entirely personal. Beauty can be found in nature as well where “beauty as goodness” holds true.

An Alaskan glacier, a ruggedly dry mountain range, or a field of wildflowers can all be said to be beautiful. Most people find beauty in nature, from a newly fallen leaf in autumn, a tadpole metamorphosing to a frog, or a butterfly fluttering in a field. Formal studies done in the United States have discovered that facial symmetry is a key factor in determining the beauty of human appearance. To have facial symmetry suggests that a person has no apparent inherited flaws. Other studies suggest that a specific height and length of cheekbones is a strong indicator of physical beauty.

These studies were conducted by scientists who asked volunteers to rate a series of photographs on the basis of beauty. The attributes common to all images rated beautiful were then picked out. Dr. Devendra Singh, of the University of Texas at Austin, discovered the waist-to-hip ratio, which is considered an indication of beauty in women of most cultures. This holds that a woman whose waist circumference is 70% of her hip circumference is considered beautiful and is also an indicator of her fertility. Greek philosophers were the earliest to theorize beauty.

Pythagorus saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. The Pythagorean School maintained that objects proportioned to the “golden ratio” seemed more attractive. People whose facial features are symmetric and proportioned are ranked as more attractive than those who are not, according to the golden ratio. The ancient Indians believed that anything that is always new is beautiful. A survey conducted by London Guildhall University of 11,000 people showed that (subjectively) good-looking people earn more.

Less attractive people earned, on average, 13% less than more attractive people, while the penalty for overweight was around 5%. The term “beautiful people” is used to refer to those who closely follow trends in fashion, physical appearance, food, dining, wine, cars, and real estate, often at a considerable financial cost. Such people often mirror in appearance and consumer choices of the characteristics and purchases of rich Hollywood characters. Beauty is truly a subjective concept that is difficult to prove or define.

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