Beauty is in the Eyes of the Beholder
What is beauty? If one were to ask ten people what beauty was, there would be ten vastly different answers. However, if one asked the Merriam-Webster dictionary what beauty was, it would read, “The quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” If beauty is quantified by the qualities that are attractive, what are these qualities? What makes someone beautiful? Size and Skin, are the first things that come to mind if the media is to be believed.
Society’s view of beauty is ever changing, and since the beginning of time, beauty was measured in size. A robust woman with large hips and large breasts was considered a healthy child bearing woman. If one looked at paintings as well as sculpture woman whom today would be considered fat were considered the perfect specimen for art. Slender woman were thought to be malnourished, boyish, and would not bear strong children with their slim hips and small breasts. However there have been women that have been slender that have shaped historic art as well, such as tree nymphs, which always, have been portrayed as slender woman.
Today there are many views of beauty, but there are two main views of what makes a woman beautiful when it comes to size at least. You have the Marilyn Monroe and Queen Latifah view and then you have the Twiggy and Paris Hilton view. Marilyn Monroe is considered the most beautiful woman of all time; she has curves in all the right places and is still considered a blond bombshell by almost anyone. Queen Latifah is a plus-sized woman and proud of it. Twiggy brought in the “thin is in” movement in the late 60’s. Her style still dominates the fashion runways decades later. Paris Hilton is a blond socialite with a very thin, slender appearance, to the point where it has been questioned by the media, if she is healthy. Which is right? Who knows.
Beyond size, there is skin. Skin is the largest organ of our body and is always changing. Skin comes in all different shades and can be blemished or silky smooth. Once it was said that the perfect skin tone was the color of the inside of an apple. However, if one looks at history, skin tone and skin condition is a cultural phenomenon. In Europe and America over a hundred years ago, the saying about the flesh of an apple held true. Today, if one were to look at the Nacirama anthropological case study, one would find that in the last few decades or so, women have damaged their skin because of the desire to have dark tans. While black women’s skin color varies from a pale milk chocolate to dark ebony, how can one skin tone be more beautiful than the next?
In India a woman whose face is pockmarked is considered beautiful because she had survived smallpox. If you ask any teenage girl what she hates most about puberty is, she will most likely say, “pimples.” Some people believe that body art on a woman’s body is ugly and trashy, while some believe that the tattoos are considered a beautiful expression. Piercing yet another form of body art is considered taboo by some and acceptable by others. It is a cultural perspective as well as a perspective of age.
So, how does one quantify beauty? Simply put, beauty cannot be boxed or bottled, it cannot be sold, and it cannot be quantified. Beauty is what we perceive it to be. Humanity is vast, filled with diverse opinions and a humbling amount of variegation. How can one person or even one group of people decide what is and what is not, beautiful? My view of beauty will be and is vastly different from that of my audience. The point is, “Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder.”