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Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder?


TooBoku
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No, there are certain physical features that are considered beautiful regardless of cultural background, age, and in some cases even sex.

We even share some physical preferences with the most unlikely animals. For instance, the human male's preference for women with thin, elegant necks can be traced back all the way to lizards. Preference for symmetry (especially in facial features) is something we share with most other primates.

Then there's the hip-waist ratio, which yields similar preference for all men world-wide.

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I'll give more of an answer later, but for right now, all I have to say is there's a thread called "Big Beautiful Women" and "Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty" http://www.bellazon.com/main/topic13916/Ge...for_Real_Beauty and another thread called "Fetish for Skinny" http://www.bellazon.com/main/topic6075star...sh_for_Skinny...

:ninja:

Well, I guess I do have a bit more to add. I used to think no, but then the more I get to know different people from different cultures or even different people from the same cultures, I see a lot of things that I took for granted aren't unanimous.

A lot of men for example think the appeal of big breasts are unanimous. Though they are popular, they aren't as much of a given as a lot of those that love them believe.

I always assumed the appeal of long hair was unanimous. One of my [female] cousins liked this African guy and she just assumed that her long hair would win him over because "he's not used to..." but she was embarassed and surprised that he preferred the short hair that his women had :rofl: .

All of my black friends prefer big booty, but there are a lot of whites females who say that they are ugly. I used to think that Stacy Keibler's legs were the ideal for all men, end of discussion, but I latter found that there are still other preferences of drastically different types. Bashing other group's feature's and tastes isn't cool, but diversity is interresting :yes: .

Even if you made a list of 10 women or 10 features you thought were unanimously beautiful, there would still be thousands of people who see it as just okay or less.

If your answer is yes to one or all of these 3 questions, beauty is probably in the eye of the beholder...

1. Have you ever thought that someone that someone else thinks is attractive is unattractive or vise versa?

2. Have you have ever thought that someone someone else thinks is beautiful is ugly or average?

3. Have you witnessed this happen a lot?

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I think it is in a way.

There are common things about faces that make them being concidered as beautiful by everybody, like being very symmetrical and ordinary, but there also is a lot of personal preference involved I think.

One likes the nose to be thin the other doesn't etc.

For girls I think the common critics are having a short thin nose, a symmatrical face, eyes that are wide apart, big lips and the part of your face under your nose being a little bigger than the part over your nose I think.

With guys it's a broad chin and err... don't remember the rest anymore but I'll look it up, I have some studies about this topic lying around here somewhere...

On the whole you can say symmetry and being ordinary mixed with some hormone markers (like having the 'right' proportions of hip to waist) makes beautiful I think.

But people have types so I guess there is room for personal preference since no one has a completely symmetrical face and everything. And most celebrities only apply to these rules a bit. They mostly have more or less symmetrical features but if they completely stuck to these patterns no one would recognize them anymore. There has to be something that you can remember.

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Oh, sorry, I deleted them :ninja: because I wasn't sure whether they'd start a bunch of tension with the people that didn't see it the first time :ninja: stuff like: "what Gisele's ugly? How can you say that?!" "what Angelina's ugly?! You must be crazy!" "You said what about Doutzen??!!...you said what about Adriana??!!...you said what about Alessandra??!!..."

So I guess I'll just summarize them instead....

There is a thread where people express that they can't see A. Why certain celebs are popular and B. Why people find them attractive.

The other one is about celebs with great bodies and "ugly" faces.

Both show a world of different ideas about what ugly is and what beautiful is.

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Perhaps we need to define what we mean when we say the word beauty. I would not consider it to be the same thing as physical attractiveness. Even though in many cases we could all agree that some people are naturally physically attractive and others not so much, with some good lighting, a good photographer, and a genuine expression chances are something of worth beauty wise will get captured no matter who the subject is.

What I'm trying to do really is make a statement about art. What we create with our hands. So not olny art but anything we as human beings can create.

That said, would you say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

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Perhaps we need to define what we mean when we say the word beauty. I would not consider it to be the same thing as physical attractiveness. Even though in many cases we could all agree that some people are naturally physically attractive and others not so much, with some good lighting, a good photographer, and a genuine expression chances are something of worth beauty wise will get captured no matter who the subject is.

What I'm trying to do really is make a statement about art. What we create with our hands. So not olny art but anything we as human beings can create.

That said, would you say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

You had to know I would jump in here.. For what others have been saying.. I will say beauty is in the eye of the beholder as to what they like in the appearance of someone else since everyone has there own opinion to what attracts them.. I will add this "attraction" is never permanent. I have seen to many people alter their "preferences" for the simple fact that a personality was far more attractive or circumstances had driven them to someone outside of the "norm" of what they find physically attractive or even thought they would find compatible. That one thing that seems to keep people together or get people together is very difficult to put to words.. If something is to be it will be. I have first hand experience as well as have seen plenty of people show examples with the alterations to ones preference based on finding someone attractive in ways never thought before.

NOW to answer the redefinition of your question Toob. (I hope you don't mind I keep calling you that?) Anyway, What someone creates is still in the eye of the beholder, but this gets so much more broader since for example the beauty of a picture that a photographer takes. You have the image that the artist first wants to project, everything may count; the model(s), lighting, clothes, etc... the images meant to be projected may differ as it is developed.. which can change what the artist sees a beauty as a picture is being developed. One photographer may capture something that another doesn't see or look for which really broadens this example so I won't go into the various examples possible for that. But I will say from the shoot to the development and to the final picture; the physical eye varies to which picture is used, based on what is captured in the view of an artist based on eyesight. The final picture may not be the beauty wanted but it is a beauty desired at the point of the final draft. Then of course there is the person that views the picture.. Anyone who is on BZ should know that there is a wide variety of what is beautiful or what someone sees as beauty. One may see beauty in a smile, in the eyes, of course the body, etc. I used this example for the purpose of the relativity BZ thread readers should have to a photographer and the photographs viewed. It is all in the eye of the beholder as to what is found to be beauty in a picture.

Now as for art.. it has the same principals of development, though, if you ever seen a really good artist at work; the eye changes with mood sometimes. So it can be said it is mood driven sometimes. WOW, I guess now that I think about it, it can be also the same for a photographer with his photo. And in a way it sounds similar to how a person finds another person attractive, sometimes it can be mood driven. Like saying.... Am I in the mood for....

It appears I may have more things to say about this as more thoughts for art comes to mind. If you really want to test the thought of the eye of the beholder.. On a forum on MySpace.. A thread was created that spoke about an artist who starved a dog to death and called it art.. And believe it or not there actually were comments of this "art" as a beautiful symbolism. Really, beauty can be in the eye of the beholder...

In case anyone wants to know, the purpose for the MySpace thread was to get people to go to a link to help ban that from happening again.

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^ ¡Que Feo! (In regards to the dog)

'The Arts' are a good example though. Some people are moved to tears by, say, Monet's 'Waterlillies'. Others are left cold. I noticed today that FHM(USA) published their annual 'Sexiest' list - I don't know much about it save that Megan Fox won. But I bring it up because these are popularity contests, a consensus, a norm. More people of that magazine's demographic (I presume heterosexual, young adult men, from the US, aged 15-25?) voted for her than anyone else. She was the 'mean' average. Does this mean anything? Not really. But it made the news on Yahoo Argentina!

All it does mean is that of that magazine's readership (already a limited source), and out of the percentage that bothered to vote (again, I doubt anywhere near 100%) a 'girl' who was probably fairly prevalent in recent issues of that magazine garnered slightly more votes than another 'girl' in much the same position.

Do I, therefore, think she is the 'sexiest woman in the world'? Of course not - at least not because I have been told to accept that. I happen to think she is a perfectly nice, good-looking girl though. If I did think it though, then I would consider it a happy coincidence. I would not turn to my friend, who preferred Jessica Alba (for example), and say: "HAH! In YOUR face. I'm right - you're wrong and here's the proof!".

These things aren't definitive. But the FHM thing is what it is: an easy news-story. It might get them more readers, it's 'a consensus, a norm'!

These are some of the men that I know women find attractive:

Gerard Depardieu

Willem Dafoe

John Malkovich

David Bowie

Luciano Pavarotti

Carlos Tevez

These are not 'conventionally' attractive men. They are not, say, Brad Pitt - all manly jaw and defined torso! Yet they have large followings. I'm not talking about some 'guilty pleasure' - best hidden; but proper LARGE followings. You might disagree. Like the FHM poll it is hardly 'set in stone' - I'm just using examples that I know of.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in this rambling half-cut way, is 'YES'. Yes, 'beauty IS in the eye of the beholder'. We may be genetically pre-disposed to like the man that will more likely provide us with meat and fight off the other men, or the woman who is better built to bear us children without dying. We might think that because that this man has the biggest earlobes - the largest wooden lip stretcher - the most welts sustained on their back, that therefore he is the bravest warrior. We may find 'beauty' in a perfect symmetrical face, in the chiselled physique of Brad or the caramel hips of Megan. We may weep at 'Waterlillies', the 'Rose City' of Petra, Jordan, the vocals of Mario Lanza, Beethoven's 5th, the '12 Apostles' lurching impossibly in the seas off of the Great Ocean Road between Melbourne and Adelaide...

Or we may not. We may be smitten by those 'dogs playing pool' paintings, the smell of a hot-dog stand, Woody Allen chasing the lobsters across the kitchen in 'Annie Hall', the 'quiet' one in the corner, a b-side to a single that didn't do very well by a band that all your friends think are shit, that derelict building by the side of the motorway, that girl behind the bar with the bad fringe - but the way she smiles at me...

Nobody can tell you who or what you will find attractive. Whilst I concede that millennia of genetic pre-dispositions are at play - Joe is right, a tiny search just across this site will reveal all manner of likes, desires, kinks, fetishes, and loves. We cannot tell them they are wrong. Maybe the brain is just a 'funny' thing?

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What a topic! I like it :D

For me personally...

I think a huge amount of 'beauty' comes from cultural influence *points to Joe's first post*. I have noticed that the majority of men that find me attractive are generally from (almost) the same ethnic background. I'd actually go so far as to say 80% of men that have commented favorably on my looks have been of this same general group. (Generally, from an African-american background)

Granted, every once in a while someone will break the mold and surprise me by really liking my look. Say, a random white dude that surprises me out of nowhere. <- Hey, I can't look down on this... I happen to dig "random white dude"s most of the time :p

But my point is... I realize that I tend to fit into a certain, culturally-grounded standard of beauty. So I would wager an educated guess that overall, you can make some basic assumptions that in this regard, beauty is not entirely in the eye of the beholder, because so much of it comes from the reinforced images (promotions, campaigns, advertisements, etc) and aesthetic/physical 'values' in the cultures we find ourselves in.

The magazine world is full of this stuff - tons of "ideal" women and men, for each different demographic and audience market. "House wives like this kind of man", "Athletes want to see this kind of woman cheering them on," etc. There are very clear trends across these photographs and strategically designed appeals. And overall, advertisers do this because, very often, it rings True to their audiences.

But to redirect this a little bit...

I do believe everyone can be beautiful to someone. For every "weird" feature someone believes they have, someone somewhere else will think it's incredible and wonderful, whether for cultural reasons or not! I like guys with 'weird' features all the time; and many of my friends will call them "weird," even sometimes ugly!

But that doesn't change the fact that I can always find at least one friend to think they're sexy, too ;)

There are tons of very plain-faced "beautiful" people, tons of gorgeous "beautiful" people, tons of unusual "beautiful" people, tons of intimidating "beautiful" people, etc etc. The list goes on and on. So while I do think a lot of it comes from society and surroundings, it is in the eye of the beholder. It must be, because of all the "exceptions". For every 'ugly' person you think you've seen, there has been someone, somewhere that could find them attractive in a way, no matter what their features are, or how "disproportioned" they look to you. Some people like bent noses, some people like slanted mouths, some people like wide eyes, some people like skinny legs, big legs, you name it.

But I do have a comment for azgirl:

My idea of beauty actually IS somewhat permanent. Every single boyfriend I ever had, has a similar style of appearance. Different features, yes. But they all share the same general proportion in their face, and people have even joked that they get them confused. And this extends to almost every celebrity, model, actor that I like. I tend to like two styles of face and figure, and about 90% of my 'favorites' fit a criteria I could easily list, of features I appreciate.

(And that's not counting things like personality, which of course is a plus.. but that's a different conversation, for me.)

And psychologically, my 'favorite' features, body and face-wise, all link back to genetic characteristics I appreciate. Somehow, they express qualities I want in a mate, whether I think about it consciously or not :p So this general criteria will not significantly change.

Now, when I was younger it changed every few years. But as I matured and realized what kind of man I wanted in my life, I have found that for the past several years the "boyfriend" trend I mentioned has been true and foolproof, save for one, who - as you can probably guess - I found, wasn't my type, anyway.

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You had to know I would jump in here..

Of course my dear. I had you in mind and actually, the response you actually posted is very close to what I thought you might post. :heart:

Hmmm... so by the comments so far I guess it's the understanding of most people here that beauty is actually a superficial thing. (Given the nature of this forum however, it of course comes to no surprise) To some extent I would agree, but I would not limit it to that.

My idea of beauty is something that would "speak to your soul" for lack of a better word. A thing of beauty by my definition would be something that stimulates your senses and comunicates an idea of what is good and wholesome on a spiritual level.

Deoxyribonucleic acid... a beautiful thing no? How each little sequence of elements in that thread has a distinct and specific function, how it weaves within itself and seemingly knitts a baby together in it's mother's womb. Say what you will about it being random creation of the blind watchmaker known as time but my view doesn't allow me to see how that can be fluked even over billions or even trillions of years. It eludes my imagination. It's my belilef that there is a divine hand involved with such an intricate process. A process, that so far, we have little to no control over. Therefore, it is not our place to say weather or not a human being is beautiful because if a divine hand is involved, it must be beautiful. In fact, once you establish that there is a divine hand, deciding what is beautiful is not at all within our powers. What can actually be beautiful has already been established by the deity. Simply having an opinion on whether or not something is beautiful will no longer makes it beautiful or ugly.

To provide a rebuttal to the comments made so far on physical attraction, though I would say there are certain "laws" of physical attraction that do rule over us to some extent, we as humans have the free will to ignore those rules and make our own decision on what "we" as individuals think is good. However, if beauty were in the eye of the beholder this would conflict with what has already been said. We as people would have the power to say to the dorky girl in the corner with thick glasses that she is not beautiful and it would be true. As a decent human being, would you even want the power to do that?

I would personally cringe at having that kind or power and responsibility. To tell a human being that he or she is ugly and it being true. In contrast, if beauty was indeed in the eye of the beholder, I could then say that rape, violence, and murder were beautiful and it would be true. I could then say clearcutting a forest and hunting the dodo bird to extinction are beautiful and it would be true.

There is a standard for beauty that exists in nature. When you see the sun rise and set, is that not beautiful? When you see the stars fill the sky as the surf of the ocean provides the soundtrack for a night walk on the beach, is that not beautiful? When you see a mother hen gather her chicks beneath her wings to shelter them from the rain, is that not beautiful? How about when that same hen does the same thing in a burning barn? How the mother hen sacrifices herself to protect those chicks, is that not beautiful?

To say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder destroys this standard of what we universally know to be good, wholesome, and beautiful.

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I don't think that what I wrote was necessarily "superficial" (although I did use some superficial examples).

Whilst I have seen some wondrous sunsets and sunrises, I once took some lectures in astronomy in which the professor was adamant that they were not "beautiful". They were (to quote him probably not quite verbatim) "Just the Earth tilting up or down away from the Sun".

But you bought 'divinity' into this thread - it is an interesting point. Are we told by a 'higher power' what to like and dislike? As I'm still a questing soul, I am so far not convinced of such things. I mention this because I was once with someone who very much was. And as we looked upon a 'natural wonder' that did take our collective breaths away - she insisted that she was moved because 'God' had put it there to be marvelled at; whilst I saw it as the consequence of geology. It was not a dry, scientific approach on my part - I think anyone who has read anything by me on this forum will know that is not the case - like I said, it did take my breath away. I didn't study the cause, but I saw it as geological, not divine.

Unfortunately, some people find the most horrible things beautiful. I did mention that "maybe the brain is a 'funny' thing". But, so as not to stray into too dark a territory, there are plenty of 'cinephiles' who will say that John Woo brings a beauty to violence on screen. The same has been said of Sergio Leone and Quentin Tarantino: that they make these horrible scenes and images somehow 'poetic'. I can't imagine the glorification of murder would be in any way "wholesome", yet millions of people around the world would have gone to see such director's films in their respective eras...

And people will do the most heinous things to capture beauty. You talk about charisma, but money and power are also very attractive attributes to have. There are plenty of images and stories around of multi-billionaire Russian oligarchs (again, just to use an example) on their super-yachts accompanied by a coterie of 'mean' attractive (i.e. 'Megan Fox-alikes', in reference to my previous post) young girls fawning over them. These men are often perceived as brutal, and boorish. And are also quite often described as 'ugly' - inside and out. I wonder how this attraction is working - from both sides?

People can tell me as much as they want (and they do!) that certain women are beautiful, that certain music will bring them to tears - yet I remain unconvinced. Does that therefore make me an iconoclast?

But, on a lighter note to end, I am enjoying this thread. There are some interesting opinions coming out.

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For the record, I could appreciate the second half of your first argument. I also thuroughly appreciate this one.

I like what your professor said and to delve deeper into this, what he said aligns perfectly with a Darwinistic view. If in fact the universe is random then beauty cannot exist. Everything is just one big random mess... we then shouldn't even be having this conversation.

(by the way, by the definition of beauty I'm using, sexual desirability does not factor in. I do realize however we are not using the same difinition)

As for your question, are we told by a higher power what is beautiful? No. What is beautiful is just beautiful and is wretched is just wretched. Something hasn't clicked yet though. You see, earlier I wrote that just because you believe something is beautiful, it doesn't make it true. Keeping in mind that there is a divine standard in this situation. Our role in this is merely to behold what is beautiful, find it where it exists, and perhaps even to make someting that is beautiful of our own.

So, if Tarantino creates a mindless film like Kill Bill and says a girl getting mutilated by a ball and chain is beautiful... and people agree with him, is it then beautiful? Nope. They are just a group of poor misled souls driven by their need for significance and to fit in rather than their own rational thoughts.

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These are some of the men that I know women find attractive:

Gerard Depardieu

Willem Dafoe

John Malkovich

David Bowie

Luciano Pavarotti

Carlos Tevez

These are not 'conventionally' attractive men. They are not, say, Brad Pitt - all manly jaw and defined torso! Yet they have large followings. I'm not talking about some 'guilty pleasure' - best hidden; but proper LARGE followings. You might disagree. Like the FHM poll it is hardly 'set in stone' - I'm just using examples that I know of.

All of those men are rich, famous and powerful in various degrees, you don't think that might have a smidgen to do with their appeal? I'm sure if David Bowie was a milkman in Kent or Carlos Tevez was a waiter in Buenos Aires, they wouldn't have hundreds of women swooning over them...

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These are some of the men that I know women find attractive:

Gerard Depardieu

Willem Dafoe

John Malkovich

David Bowie

Luciano Pavarotti

Carlos Tevez

These are not 'conventionally' attractive men. They are not, say, Brad Pitt - all manly jaw and defined torso! Yet they have large followings. I'm not talking about some 'guilty pleasure' - best hidden; but proper LARGE followings. You might disagree. Like the FHM poll it is hardly 'set in stone' - I'm just using examples that I know of.

All of those men are rich, famous and powerful in various degrees, you don't think that might have a smidgen to do with their appeal? I'm sure if David Bowie was a milkman in Kent or Carlos Tevez was a waiter in Buenos Aires, they wouldn't have hundreds of women swooning over them...

Yes that did cross my mind, because I am not an idiot.

As you can see from my previous post - I deferred to TooBoku's point about "charisma" and noted the 'Russian oligarch's' "money and power" being very prevalent in attraction.

What I thought was understood was that symmetry, or simple 'mean' physical attractiveness, is not the only factor in what we may seek in a partner. If it were just this sort of 'Beauty', then these men wouldn't rank highly in any sort of spurious list concocted to measure such things...

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I do not have the appropriate time to give a proper statment though I can't seem to read what I have and not make a simple comment. I tend to not want to post with this little of time, but simple I can do...

I have thought deeply about this topics and others that have come to mind and I found that the psychological make of a person in a specific moment seems to dramatically alter an opinion on anything. Based on environment, personality and basic foundation of a person that comes from childhood, it can not only help the result of an opinion but also change the way someone views all of life. On this forum alone I have found that the perseption of what was written can even be altered by what ever the day brings. I have so much to elaberate on but my time is short. I will enjoy what you guys have to say about this later. Be back soon.

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Well, Tooboku, now that you've opened it up to inner beauty as well (if I read correctly) I do think that inner qualities are more universal. I just assumed that "eye of the beholder" was in reference only to physical looks, but there is of course an "eye of the heart" that is probably more important, just can't always tell which one people mean when they ask :idk: . But when you bring up inner beauty, I think that is more universal. With outer beauty, some think ________ is the most beautiful woman in the world, some think they are average and some think they are ugly. But with inner beauty someone who lends the a hand with a smile, providing comfort, honesty and compassion is indeed a beauty that goes farther than a pretty face and a hot bod can ever reach...

You are so beautiful to me

You are so beautiful to meee

Can't you seeee

Your everything I hoped foor

Your everything I neeed

You are so beautiful to me

Such joy and happiness you bring

Such joy and happiness you bring

Like a dream

A guiding light that shines in the night

Heavens gift to me

You are so beautiful to meeee

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I like where you're going... you and I are not quite on the same wavelength though. I am not trying to separate inner and outer beauty, to me what is good is good and what is vile is vile. What I am trying to separate however, is physical attraction and beauty. I believe sheep are very beautiful animals... I need not tell you where I'm trying to go with this. It's obsurd no? Not to mention a very disturbing mental image. So why make the same assumption when it's said that a person is beautiful?

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