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November 25, 2023

Beauty, a concept as old as humanity itself, transcends mere aesthetics. It's a multifaceted prism that encompasses various dimensions—physical, cultural, and emotional. Exploring the diverse layers of beauty unveils its intricate tapestry, shaped by societal norms, personal perceptions, and inner virtues. As the saying goes, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. The beholder changes based on age, gender, sexual preference, race, nationality, and more. There is no true definition of beauty but all that matters is that people like what they see and other people like how they feel. Society has allowed Hollywood to define beauty but as television and movies diversity, beauty is expanding its borders.

Society often defines beauty by physical attributes, but its definition varies across cultures and eras. Discuss the evolving standards of physical beauty, the impact of media and advertising, and the growing movement toward body positivity and inclusivity. As previously stated, Hollywood has distorted the definition of physical beauty. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s, fuller size women were the ones everyone desired. That is still the standard in other parts of the world. Sir Mix a Lot became famous for his hit song “Baby Got Back”. The song declares that even though the media portrays beauty to be skinny white girls with big boobs and no butts, black men (and ironically many white men) prefer a fuller size woman with curves. After that song came out, slowly but surely many publications and Hollywood started to change the narrative. Now 5’ 3” Kim Kardashian with her enormous rounded behind is the epitome of beauty. Fuller lips that black people have genetically been predisposed to having are now the “in thing” along with tans to have skin appear to be more bronze. Tattoos and piercings enhance the look and is no longer considered taboo. Physical beauty is changing and in my opinion it is for the better.

Beauty is deeply rooted in culture, manifesting through rituals, traditions, and ideals. Even though we may all be American, The United States of America is a melting pot of different cultures. We have a diverse racial society and many of the subcultures within the culture have their own defined definition of beauty. Long hair or short, facial hair or clean shaven, body hair or manscaped, all can come down to personal preference and cultural norms. There is a statement in some cultures that men should look for women who have “good childbearing hips”. That completely contradicts the Hollywood standard. Some cultures pay attention to a man’s hand size and shoe size to determine his masculinity and manhood. These traits take precedence over personality and social status many times. In the Far East culture, many Asians prefer pale white skin to the point they bleach their skin. Those with the slightest hint of melanin are not deemed as beautiful. On the other hand, here in the west, many spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to go to tanning salons and spend countless hours sunbathing at beaches and pools even at the risk of over exposure to the sun and enduring skin cancer and melanoma.

The beauty that radiates from within is often overshadowed. What should be even more significant is inner beauty—kindness, compassion, intelligence, and resilience—and how these qualities contribute to an individual's charisma and appeal. The world puts a tremendous onus on the outside allowing many to hide the ugliness that lies within them. If someone strives for perfection on the outside but is horrendous on the inside, is it fair to deem them as a beautiful person? Why is beauty defined by the outside. Is a person with deformities that are of no fault of their own, but they are charitable and pleasant to be around ugly, while the person who’s skin and physical features flawless, but are the has the ugliest character that no one can stand to be around beautiful? Many movies have been released to varying levels of success with the trope that the physically ugly guy/girl who is beautiful inside really has the tools to become the physically beautiful person to match their inner beauty. On the other hand, the physical attractive/ugly on the inside villain, does not have the wherewithal to change their personality to match their outward appearance. Many times, something tragic happens to them to make them lose the outward beauty that defined them.

Many people have chosen to examine the psychological aspects of beauty, discussing studies on human perception, the impact of beauty on self-esteem, and the cognitive biases influencing our perceptions of attractiveness. It can be fascinating for some and boring for others. To put it in beauty terms, learning about it can be beautiful to some and ugly to others. With the number of suicides, eating disorders, and body dysmorphia taking place in society today, it is a subject that needs to be delved into. Technology has blessed us with the ability to consume massive amounts of data and more information is readily available now than it was even a decade ago. As more advances come about, more understanding about the psychological impact needs to take place to help people feel good about themselves. As Whitney Houston sang in “The Greatest Love of All”, “I believe the children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside”.

Beauty also exists in nature as well as art of course, From mesmerizing landscapes to captivating artworks, beauty finds expression in various forms. Nature and art showcases beauty in more ways imaginable. They have a knack for invoking emotions and offering perspectives that transcend the superficial. God has made a beautiful planet full of unexplainable things that are awesome and inspiring. Waterfalls like Niagara Falls are breathtaking. Then you have manmade art such as the Mona Lisa or Mount Rushmore where the vision in one’s head was put on a canvas or a mountain for the world to see, admire, and inspire. Music and movies are another artform many do not take the time to credit properly. “Prestigious” directors like Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Ridley Scott, and Martin Scorsese speak disparagingly about superhero movies and try to discredit them as art and label them as simple cash grabs. Both types of movies are art and can and should be appreciated for what they are in the scope of what they are. Most will not argue about the beauty of a gazelle but that should not diminish the natural beauty of a reindeer.

We may enter a future that resembles The Hunger Games or the 5th Element. Or the future of beauty may be more dystopian and resemble something from Mad Max. Only God knows what the future will entail. In the present though, if everyone focuses on the total package of making themselves, their belongings, and their communities as beautiful as possible, the world can and will be a better place. Superficiality is best suited as being something of the past.

Beauty is a complex tapestry woven by culture, perception, and values. It transcends the superficial. Embracing its multifaceted nature enriches our understanding, encouraging a broader perspective that celebrates diversity and inner radiance. This is not to say that appreciating or admiring outer beauty should not be done, but instead both inner and outer beauty should be recognized. Once the total picture and full package is completely realized, society can evolve and mature. There is a biological nature to being attracted to the exterior, but this is also a contributor to the many failed relationships and broken homes. The hope for the future is that beauty will become something of substance.