Beauty in the Eye of...the Mirror?

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While searching for universal concepts of human beauty is a challenging business, it seems most cultures find common ground when it comes to causes of attraction. An internet search on the subject confirms that physical attractiveness is generally more important to males than females. We also tend to value symmetrical faces more highly than asymmetrical ones, so there may be some truth to the textbook's assertion that people are more inclined to "average"-looking faces.

One of the most fascinating findings to me is the notion that people are generally attracted to those with similar features as themselves. This may also shed light on the "proximity" principle on guiding interpersonal attraction discussed in the text. By looking in the mirror often, perhaps we create a certain "proximity" to our own image that makes us naturally inclined to our own looks. So maybe people are more confident in themselves than they would like to lead on (or maybe they are already vocal about their smug narcissism).

At the same time, beauty is far from being perceived as the "same" across all cultures. Masai women of Kenya, for example, are known to shave their heads and remove two of their lower middle teeth to attain such radiant beauty.

Beauty is, overall, impossible to define completely. If beauty is anything like pornography, however, perhaps most people would apply the same definition to beauty that former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart did to pornography: "I know it when I see it."




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The differences in perceived beauty beauty across cultures is an amazing variable. Seeing how some cultures view shaved heads and missing lower teeth all the way to the "hour glass" shape is in my opinion a trait of the culture they live in. In America we are bombarded with images of what we consider typical "beauty" in magazines, television, movies, and many more. We would all mostly be appalled to see someone of the shaved head missing teeth culture as beauty. It is sad to see how much influence has on our culture to be beautiful, possibly causing many abnormal habits or procedures such as anorexia, bulimia, gastric bypass, plastic surgery, and more just to gain acceptance to be seen as "beautiful". Beauty should be defined as inner and outer beauty, so many people need to get past the superficial "looks" of people, not judge a book by its cover and get to know individuals on a personal level to experience true beauty.

I agree with what you said about the proximity that is formed since we are constantly seeing picture or reflections of ourselves. However, I believe there is also an element of similarity, which you did touch on, but not quite fully. By thinking of our own image in a positive light, we come to see ourselves as attractive, which is the narcissism that you mentioned. So, when we see people that look like us, it makes sense that we find them attractive. Just like sharing common interests or dislikes, people can share common facial or bodily features, which adds to the things we have in common. Thus confirming, "birds of a feather flock together".

Seeing ourselves in the mirror all the time results in the mere exposure effect, so I'd agree with you. Interesting sign off haha.

Beauty is definitely seen as very different across different cultures. Especially when think about the privileges some cultures have over others. Some cultures may have more money or more resources to obtain certain features to make them seem more attractive to other people. It's an interesting point you made about how looking in the mirror could effect how we see others as being more attractive. Since everyone has a different sense of what they find attractive, it's interesting to think that looking in the mirror at themselves could have something to do with that.

While beauty across cultures is definitely an interesting thing to look at, what I find even more interesting to observe is how what Europeans used to view as beautiful compared to today. Back in the times when kings and queens were in power it was attractive to be fat (and as a women pale) to show that you did not have to work and had access to an abundance of food. The way that people in our own societies have changed this over time is just as if not more interesting than cross continent beauty.

This is a very interesting post. I think it should be noted that your argument goes against what we've learned for the last midterm, but there are other factors that should be considered. We were told that people find average faces the most attractive (so be it). But you bring up a very interesting point with the proximity effect, and another colleague brought up the point of the mere exposure effect. I think both of these can play a huge role in how we view people on their attractiveness. So then it comes down to which one has the greatest effect and how do we know? Great post!

I like that in this piece you mentioned that not every culture has the same ideas of beauty. I agree that Men think looks are more important than females do. But what really was interesting was that people find loved ones with similar features to them. I never thought much of that but I guess that is correct. All I know is that it will take a lot more than good looks to make me find my perfect man.

I believe one of the main points of this article was the idea of perception. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder because each individual has their own views on what beauty which effects what they find physically and emotionally beautiful.

There is definitely not one way to define beauty. When you ask someone what beauty is they are bound to give different answers depending on their own personal backgrounds.

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This page contains a single entry by stel0161 published on April 8, 2012 9:53 PM.

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