Throughout history, our society has been obsessed with the concept of beauty. Different civilizations in history have used various forms of cosmetics and even religious rituals to enhance beauty. In fact, in diverse cultures throughout the centuries, women have put their health at risk all for the sake of beauty. From, mercury to leeches, urine, animal blood, lead and even arsenic, a variety of toxic and deadly mixtures have been used to enhance looks. Now, years later, the quest for perfection is still underway but now with the help of modern technology.[bctt tweet=”Generally, our modern society is still entranced with the concept of perfection.”] All you need to do is watch any movie or television show, to see how the idea of beauty is constantly perpetuated and has led to a trend of constant dissatisfaction of how we look. Moreover, everyone is at risk of this dissatisfaction; men, women and children. We are capable of falling into a trap of insecurity and need for what cannot be clearly, fairly and properly measured; perfection.
The world has used many different methods to define perfect beauty, every society has had a method or an individual who defines beauty. For example, at some point Queen Cleopatra of Egypt was the epitome of beauty. However, more recently, science has lend its voice in the definition and calculate of perfect beauty. A while ago, researchers calculated what they believed was the ratio for the ‘perfect’ face, and this formula was largely based off the ‘golden ratio.’ The golden ratio is a mathematical reasoning to explain why were are attracted to certain shapes and objects explaining how there is a certain proportion pattern that leads to us being attracted to certain things. This theory is represented by an equation: a/b = (a+b)/a. The actual measurement using this formula is a long process, but you can check it out here to see if you are scientifically ‘perfect.’ One celebrity who was said to have the ‘perfect face’ was Jessica Alba, an actress who was also dubbed 2001 sexiest woman alive by Maxim.
In addition, there is apparently another scientific reason linked to our preferences for attractive people; evolution. The argument for this is that fitter, taller and stronger people have a greater chance for survival, which naturally leads us to seek them out. Still, this argument doesn’t hold water, because what we deem beautiful in this age does not correspond to traits of evolutionary superior individuals.
Ultimately, even with this formula, beauty is more or less subjective because the standards of beauty have changed. For example during the Elizabethan era, being pale was considered very beautiful, but now, brown tanned skin is what is fashionable. The exception to this is Asia, where pale skin is still considered beautiful. As a result, we are creatures of constant change, which is why it is impossible to measure perfection.
Everywhere we look we are attacked by images of thin, young, flawless and let’s be honest, Caucasian women and men. [bctt tweet=”The media has power and has literally constructed and defined what perfect beauty is from generation to generation.”] From things like Maxim magazine’s Hot 100 list, People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, FHM’s Sexiest Girls and more, the media just can’t stop telling us what a beautiful woman or a handsome man should look like. Still, even for these magazines, the faces change, illustrating again, the dynamism of beauty even in Hollywood.
In the end, after years of these similar images, men and women start to look at themselves and think, “Am I really beautiful?” But what is constantly preached but oftentimes dismissed as cliché, is the saying, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This phrase which literally means, the perception of beauty is subjective has its origins in Ancient Greek and can be traced down through various literature in the 19th century. There is significance in this phrase because it means that for centuries people have noted the inconsistencies and ever changing landscape of beauty. So, in the end the phrase can mean that, society, the beholder, is what defines beauty or that, diverse communities classify beauty; either way this means that there is no such thing as universal beauty.
Moreover, not all media perpetuate a certain type of beauty. For example, the Dove brand launched a campaign 2004, called the Campaign for Real Beauty. This campaign initiated a global debate on creating a wider definition of beauty; this campaign came after a global study, The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, which found that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.
Thus, although there is nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful, it becomes dangerous when we start prioritizing it over our health and mental well-being. In part two of this article we will be talking about the price of ‘perfection.’
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