Are you beautiful?

July 21, 2014

perfect looks

Beauty is a highly objective thing to quantify. We develop our own individual standards of beauty, taking cues from our families, society, our peer group, and pop culture. In addition, we take into account the shifting standards of beauty over time. For example, the hourglass figure, once coveted has fallen to the wayside in favor of an overall leaner figure.

So it is possible to determine something as “objectively beautiful” when the values of beauty are constantly shifting?

Researchers have also honed in on the idea of symmetry as being part of a universal standard of beauty, pointing out how other animals prefer symmetry in mate selection and how some of these traits are held cross-culturally.  During a study done a few years ago, participants, when shown pictures of different individuals, Asians, Latinos, and whites from 13 different countries all had the same general preferences when rating others as attractive — that is those that are the most symmetric.

Darwin thought that there were few universals of physical beauty because there was much variance in appearance and preference across human groups.  For example, Chinese men used to prefer women with small feet. In Shakespearean England, ankles were the rage. In some African tribal cultures, men like women who insert large discs in their lips.

But with even these basic ideas under scrutiny, how do we truly determine what is considered beautiful?

Evidence suggests that we have very good reason to worry about our looks. According to research, people deemed beautiful have certain advantages in life. It starts early, when cute babies receive extra attention from caregivers compared to more ordinary looking babies. Beautiful children tend to be teachers’ pets, and good looks seem to help us get ahead in the workplace.  Some Economists have suggested that attractive women earn 4 percent more than their less attractive counterparts, while handsome men make 5 percent more; that means that over a lifetime, a good-looking man could earn $250,000 more than a less attractive one.

In our modern culture it is a given that beauty is power.  My personal belief is that beauty, true beauty comes from within.  The perception of beauty is not just a matter of what we look like but what we feel like.  In other words, it is a matter of energy and what we project.  The modern and present day standards of beauty will fade and change.  What remains is who we are and how we present ourselves.  If we feel beautiful then we are exactly that.  In my opinion, ultimately, this is what matters most.