Beauty as we Perceive it, Now and Then

I’ve often wondered how and why men see beauty different from one another.  My friends will say that Shakira is hot, while I think she’s not all that good looking.  Why is there a difference in how different men perceive women as being attractive or unnattractive.  Many theories will point out how the symmetry of a woman’s face and figure will often determine if she is considered attractive or not.  Oftentimes, a physically healthy looking woman, when it comes to her weight and figure, are considered attractive as well.  Of course most of the time it’s personal preference.  Some men think blonde’s are more attractive than brunette’s, or red heads.  Some prefer curvy and some prefer skinny.  But what does media and society as a whole consider attractive, and how has this changed over the years?

The idea of what is beautiful and what is not beautiful has been planted in our minds ever since we were born through the media and our life experiences.  Magazines like Vogue and Cosmopolitan paint a clear picture of what society should view as beautiful.  These women seem to be of average height, and very thin.  Although, thankfully, the view of beauty is slightly shifting into a better area.  Women such as Adelle and Queen Latifa are undoubtedly very attractive and beautiful without being very skinny.  However, it’s hard to argue about what society claims to be beautiful nowadays.  This “skinny” trend was not always around.  Over the centuries, and even over the past several decades, the definition of beauty has changed quite drastically.

What seems to facilitate this change?  A big facilitator of how the definition of beauty has changed has been due to technological advances.  Makeup, for instance, first started becoming popular thanks to movie making.  Prior to the rise in cinema, it was considered vulgar and tacky to wear makeup.  Another example of how beauty has changed thanks to technology is how people view pale skin.  For a long time, it was considered beautiful to have pale skin due to the wealthy having pale skin thanks to the limited amount of work time in the sun.  After the turn of the 20th century, however, the working class moved into factories, and all of a sudden it became attractive for the wealthy to be out in the sun and have tanned skin.

I often think of a hypothetical situation where, overnight, all the beauty magazines began putting out pictures and magazines that focused on curvy and pale women wearing no makeup, instead of thin, tan women slathered in makeup.  With this, movies and television began depicting women in the same manner.  Would societies perceptions of what beauty is change overnight as well?  Are men and women programmed by media into thinking what is attractive and what is not?  Are we all just thinking exactly what media wants us to think to go out and buy that brand new deodorant body spray, or pick up that new perfume from the hottest brand name?  Or could society be being controlled through more biological reasons such as the symmetry of the face and other subtle hints that seem to depict beauty?

These are very difficult questions to answer, but it’s something to think about.


About mbrow2013

This is my first blog, and I'm still getting used to the topic. Working on my criminal justice degree, and will be graduating within the year if all works out.
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3 Responses to Beauty as we Perceive it, Now and Then

  1. Lexo says:

    I agree that because of technology societal perception of beauty has and continue to change. With the knowledge that doctors have now they can make people look years younger. Plastic surgery I believe will become a norm, even now people go get botox during their lunches and their in and out of the doctors office.

    • You might have mistaken a point that I was trying to make with this post. Technology has improved enough to where plastic surgery is possible, but one of the points of the post was saying that technology has indirectly changed our perception of what beauty is.

  2. Beauty is a really interesting topic because it is not clear how balanced the scales are between biology and culture. I think there’s probably something to the beauty of symmetry argument, there’s related points that can be made about the ratios of certain body measurements like waist to hips in women or breadth of shoulder in men. You would think that biology is really in the driver’s seat.

    But then you look at cultural history and see how beauty ideals have changed through time, or change cross-culturally. And you start to realize that there’s something really complicated going on here. It makes me want to take the biological studies of beauty with a grain of salt, I would tend to put more credit behind learned behavior. Fascinating topic!

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