Perceptions of Beauty as a Society and as a Person

The word “beauty” has several meanings and different people perceive it in various ways since one may fit criteria of beauty in one country and do not fit those in another. One can be beautiful in the soul, smile, body shape, and walking style, among others. There is one saying that says “the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” which is reflective of the human nature, culture, and perceptions of beauty. The media can distort the definition of beauty depending on the way it portrays the images of models, especially their body figures. For instance, modern models are tall and slim, which makes people think that beautiful people must resemble such figures (Fink & Neave, 2005). However, different cultures have various perceptions of beauty since some consider curvy women as the most beautiful ones while others perceive the fact of beauty through peoples’ characters instead of concentrating on their physical images.

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The society shapes individuals in many ways since its teachings can affect people’s ideas of beauty. Perception of beauty in various cultural backgrounds is important since it helps human beings to appreciate every individual and reduce discrimination. They also aid with understanding of the importance of the diversity of human race and accepting that everything is beautiful in some way. The resources to investigate the perceptions of beauty in a person and in the community include: conference presentation by Harp (2014), “Television and beauty perceptions”, which will explain the influence of television media on beauty; Rhodes at al.’s (1998) “Facial symmetry and the perception of beauty” from Psychonomic Bulletin & Review will be used to explain the perceptions of beauty based on facial appearance; Tovée et al.’s (2006) “Changing perceptions of attractiveness as observers are exposed to a different culture” from Evolution and Human Behavior will be used to understand beauty with respect to culture, while Fink and Neave’s (2005) “The biology of facial beauty” from International Journal of Cosmetic Science will help with understanding beauty by biological composition of peoples’ faces. The sources are appropriate for providing comparisons on perception of beauty and the content is reliable. Selecting the sources involved selection of the most appropriate articles, related to the topic on beauty.

Beauty can be considered as an abstract term even though it can be defined as a presentation of qualities that delight the human moral, aesthetic, and cultural senses. The three principles are among important driving forces for people to be better than others in the society, according to Tovée, Swami, Furnham and Mangalparsad (2006). Anything considered beautiful must be appealing to the artistic or aesthetic senses of one’s self or that of other people. Aesthetic principle of beauty therefore looks at the outward appearance of an individual, such as facial features, height, lightness, and other characteristics (Fink & Neave, 2005). However, the media tries to standardize beauty by defining particular weight and height in persons as beautiful. The moral principle of beauty entails that a beautiful person must act in accordance with the guiding rules and morals of a society. This means that one must possess virtues that others can admire to be considered beautiful. In this case, people try to engage in behaviors and acts that promote a feeling of being a better person. An individual must show acts of kindness, love, understanding, and honesty, among others, to be liked by the society and considered outstanding. Any person that does not possess such virtues is not considered to be morally beautiful. Culture also defines beauty and communities in the world have distinct ways of improving their appearance. They include ear-piercings, use of ornaments, paintings, and tattooing, among others. Depending on the cultural background of an individual, beauty has varying meanings.

Perceptions of beauty vary around the world and the society influences people to keep up with the latest beauty trends. Culture, media, and personal appeal influence beauty, giving its several meanings. Different cultures have their ways of defining beautiful women with some looking at their faces, breasts, legs, soul, and other aspects (Rhodes, Proffitt, Grady & Sumich, 1998). However, being beautiful is relative and while in some countries, such as China, being slim is a sign of beauty, in African countries larger women are seen as more beautiful (Fink & Neave, 2005). Standards of beauty have variations across the world and can be said to be a reflection of peoples’ culture. However, the idea of beauty may be distorted, making it difficult to define attractiveness. Every human being want to be liked, admired, and loved thus will go to any extent to improve their appearance. This is done by reducing the undesirable characteristic and adding more features to improve appearance. Some, especially women, go through expensive and painful procedures such as ear piercings, cosmetic surgeries, and application of make-ups, among others, with the aim of improving their appearance.

Beauty does not focus on the natural looks only; health and energy also matter a lot. Research shows that facial symmetry and skin smoothness are related to the genetic make-up of human beings and a functioning immune system (Padgett & Biro, 2003). The media has also influenced perceptions of beauty, especially television shows that represent a beautiful modern woman as light-skinned and slim. People have to go too far in making themselves beautiful by denying themselves food, engaging in strenuous exercise, using lightening creams, and plastic surgeries, among others. However, they fail to realize that they are only suffering from psychological issues, since beauty has no clear definition. The society also influences the perception of beauty since people are trying hard to improve their appearance to match the refined photos and videos they see on Facebook or Instagram.

The audience that would be interested in this issue regarding beauty perceptions includes the young generation. This group has issues with self-image and keeps on comparing themselves with others in their society, school, or social groups. Women are also concerned with matters related to beauty and cases of plastic surgery are on the rise to enhance one’s looks (Padgett & Biro, 2003). The two groups need to understand that beauty is guided by culture, aesthetic, and moral values of the society they live in. They can benefit a lot by reading the message since it will enable them to understand and appreciate themselves without the need to try to improve their physical appearance through plastic surgery, starving themselves, or bleaching their skin. To communicate effectively with the audience, the use of simple terminologies is important. The paper offered examples to make the explanations simpler and clearer to the audience. There is no need to explain the principles since the discussion is very clear and the examples explain clearly the perceptions of beauty.

Conclusion

Beauty is relative and no specific definition can be used to describe whether a person is beautiful or not. Some factors, such as culture, aesthetic, media, and moral perception are used to define beauty. However, more research is required to determine factors that help in defining beauty in various communities and cultural backgrounds. The research question should be “how is beauty perceived in different cultural backgrounds?” To research this question, a social scientist should use various databases to find resources that can provide information about different societies and their perception of beautiful individuals.

 

References

Fink, B., & Neave, N. (2005). The biology of facial beauty. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 27(6), 317-325.

Padgett, J., & Biro, F. M. (2003). Different shapes in different cultures: Body dissatisfaction, overweight, and obesity in African-American and Caucasian females. Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 16(6), 349-354.

Rhodes, G., Proffitt, F., Grady, J. M., & Sumich, A. (1998). Facial symmetry and the perception of beauty. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 5(4), 659-669.

Tovée, M. J., Swami, V., Furnham, A., & Mangalparsad, R. (2006). Changing perceptions of attractiveness as observers are exposed to a different culture. Evolution and Human Behavior, 27(6), 443-456.

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