White, Skinny, and Big Eyed

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Looking around on the Internet, I see a number of differences in what is considered "beautiful" in different cultures. I the Chinese culture, for example, a woman is only considered beautiful if she is very VERY thin. Although this is not much different than out culture (girls wanting to be "model skinny"), it does contradict the Latina culture, which believes that the more curvaceous a woman is, the better. Another aspect that is found beautiful in the Chinese culture is white skin. In the summer, the women wear loads of sunscreen and use umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun. Although this is essentially a healthy habit, it differs greatly from that of American culture. Americans seem to admire the "bronze goddesses", freshly baked from the tanning bed. It's extremely interesting to see the large number of differences in the concept of beauty across cultures.
Though there are some differences, in the book it says that generally, across a variety of cultures, people prefer average looking faces. I'm not sure if being skinny and white skinned, and having large eyes is average in China, but in my personal experience, I have found this concept to be true. In discussion we were shown pictures of non-average faces and gradually a number of faces were averaged together. As more and more faces were averaged, I thought the person became more and more attractive. Do you agree? The different ways beauty is perceived in different cultures may affirm the possibility that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it that our cultures have shown us what is considered beautiful rather than allowing us to decide for ourselves?


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The question of whether we have control over who we find attractive or if the media shapes attractiveness has been bugging me for a very long time. If you look at several hundred years ago, in Western European culture a woman was attractive if she was pasty white and voluptuous. This was probably because these physical traits showed she didn't need to work on the field all day, and displayed her wealth. But in present day, the opposite is true - women who are "bronze goddesses", as you said in your post, are now deemed incredibly attractive. Personally, I find a bronze, fit girl more attractive than a larger, ghostly white girl, but would my preferences be different if I lived several hundred years ago? It's haunting to think that your sexual preferences may have been influenced significantly by the media, that you don't have as much control over what you deem attractive as you thought.

This is a very interesting topic. I found myself finding that the more and more average a face became the more attractive it was. It is wierd to see the different ideals of beauty across cultures and although some are very different, a lot of the ideals are very similar at the same time. I never thought about the fact that culture mainly decides for us what is attractive and now that I think about it I completely agree. We really do not decide for ourselves what we think is attractive but rather let our cultures decide.

I thought this was a fascinating topic that our discussion sections discussed. I also agree that as the facial features of each individual were averaged, the more attractive the face appeared. But another interesting topic is the cultural side of this issue. Although I am Chinese, I was raised in America for the majority of my life, and my perception of beauty is very different from that of a native Chinese person. Although I find people from all cultures attractive, I find that I tend to lean towards Caucasian faces as being more attractive since I was raised in America where media presented different ideas of beauty than those of what I would have been influenced by if I was raised in China. I think culture and media play a big role in how people define beauty.

I think it's interesting to even look back in history regarding beauty. In American history in the 1800s pale skin was considered beautiful, it showed that you had the money to hire workers to work in the fields rather than doing it yourself. Looking at other countries, some place beauty on larger, plumper people because it shows that they can afford ample food. So I believe that often beauty represents money and social class. Today we value tan skin because it shows that one, you can either afford to go to the tanning beds or two, you can even free time and money to tan outside. I believe beauty has a lot to do with money.

I think what we deem to be beautiful in American society is putting way too much pressure on people to look a certain way. The media definitely shapes who we find to be attractive, and we strive to be like the people on TV and in movies. I think differences in the way people look are beautiful. It keeps things interesting. Being more attracted to more average-looking faces might be in our genes, though, so maybe people can't help who they find attractive. It goes back to a nature v. nurture discussion once again.

Taking into account my own personal preferences of what classifies a woman/male is Beautiful/Attractive, I find that culture itself is the the reason for seeing attractiveness as physical traits. It seems that I can find myself judging the attractiveness of a person based upon my own idea of what attractive is which is influenced by outer beauty just as much as inner. It makes things complicated because the intentions of a persons "judging process" influence what they see as attractive. Culture doesn't plan for a future but rather for the here and now and a physically attractive person that sparks an interest seems to be more for a one night stand then a relationship. So it would seem Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, however, the intentions of that person are taken into full effect as well.

I believe culture has a lot to do with our perception of beauty. Americans are constantly shown models who are too thin to be healthy in the media and are expected to find them to be beautiful. I am a strong believer that exposure to something that is culturally accepted as "beautiful" affects our own perceptions of beauty. I also was shocked about the averaging of faces that we saw in discussion. Previously, I thought that distinct and piercing faces were considered the most beautiful. Now, I realize that a face that is the most average and symmetrical is the most beautiful.

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This page contains a single entry by parso218 published on April 4, 2012 11:28 PM.

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