How do we know what beauty is? Do infants learn it or come out knowing it?

In other words, are we taught what is "beautiful" by society as we grow up or do we make up our minds on our own and just happen to have similar ideas? What do you think?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • According to anthropologist, Hellen Fischer, Beauty on a general level is defined by the object of beauty having a symetrical face or facial features. It is moreover concieved that it is innate in our subconcious to precieve someone with a near perfect symmetry in their face would be considdered more attractive than someone without facial symetry.

    I have facial scars, and therein, my face is not symmetrical. I am considered by most women (facial wize) a 5.5 of 10 on their attractiveness rating. The scars were in part battle damage from being a veteran (I caught some concrete schrapenal from a bullet that hit a concrete barrier in a bunker I was in...), however, a younger picture of myself is considered more attractive than my current facial features.

    However, besides symety, other preceptions of beauty are established by familiar rating and societal influence... Such as men whom prefer plus sized women over slender women... Those men perhaps have an affinity because they found beauty due to family members (yes the oedepus complex...) they have found attractive (particularly their mothers) that are of plus size... But that is just a narrow assumption nonetheless.

    The point is:

    Half of what is percieved as beauty is subconcious and the other half is due to influence gained by contact with others and their preferences. More or less, half learned and half influenced.

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    • Out of curiousity, how do you know you are 5.5/10? =) I have heard the symmetry argument but I thought it interesting that this one magazine took famous celebrities and made their faces more symmetrical and they weren't as beautiful. Maybe because it took away their distinctive features...I agree with your final point. It's nice you brought in the familiar rating aspect. That might have something to do with it...

    • I asked... LOL

      I'll tell you what, I'll send you a friends request just so that you can see a picture of me on my profile page.

What Guys Said 8

  • Yes, we do inherently know what beauty is. Small differences like fatness or tanning maybe societal, but overall, symmetry is what is beautiful. People who are born with the golden ratio are also attractive because it demonstrates that they're really healthy. Healthiness means better genes and better genes equate to a better survival rate. Contrary to popular belief, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. Studies have shown that people with different backgrounds can generally agree what is beautiful. However, there are always the outliers and people who will disagree; they are a part of the minority.

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    • So you think most of the cultures different from ours have the same ideas about beauty? I haven't researched that so don't know for sure...

    • Yes, most people can agree on what is beautiful regardless of different backgrounds.

  • I think we make up our own minds. I know I certainly made up my own mind... or I firmly believe that I did.

    We can't control who we're attracted to, we just go with what our brain tells us. I think our brain is wired for this during our teen years so there is certainly an argument that our brain can be wired to perceive something as beautiful when others wouldn't depending on the society we live in.

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  • I think it's both: guys are visual and go for youth, however the visual standard may depend on culture, hence what is considered the specific 'standard' of beauty is something which is influenced by upbringing (i.e. Among the Khoisan, Steatopygia is regarded as a sign of beauty link ). For girls, I have not got much of a clue, however, the fact that girls love genuine confidence I think is universal, as well as leadership and status

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    • I think beauty is what one considers the features which are winning for the offspring, so years a go a fat woman was a sign of beauty (perhaps because it meant she could feed the babies and survive bad times with her reserves of fat?). Nowadays being skinny is a sign of beauty, people do not have to struggle for survival, taking good care of one's self (hence some self-esteem) nowadays is translated into a toned and slim body?

    • Interesting abou the Khoisan! Thank you...had never heard of them before and that term! And good point about the evolutionary standpoint. Funny how views on fat have changed. Reminded me of learning how in the past the wealthy people had cavities and ugly looking teeth because they ate indulgently while the peasants ate veggies and had excellent teeth!

  • i believe we're told what we should find beautiful through media. like putting people with a certain look in a desirable position.

    i consider myself lucky. my brothers are into things that go against what the media wants. my oldest brother likes bigger women. my second oldest brother likes older women. what I learned from that is that it's alright to like whatever you want

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    • So you don't buy into what the media sells basically...well that's cool! Glad the world has such a diverse group of people (attracted to different things)!

  • I believe it has to steam from our instinct to reproduce. So most guys like women with big boobs and wide hips due to the fact they will bear our children better. Girls like bigger stronger men since our offspring will be just that.

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    • Good argument! So you think they're thinking that subconsciously? Or are aware?

    • no, its instincts. And peoples tastes change depending on the circumstances.

  • Beauty is all about perspective like I find roses pretty but my friend however does not she hates them

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  • Both...

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  • Im reminded of what beauty is, when I constantly look at myself in the mirror.

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What Girls Said 3

  • There are many theories about what beauty is or how we "discover" beauty.

    I think it's a mix of lot of things...

    I often read people are attracted to symmetry... it's all about the right proportion. Also same say you are attracted to a face that kind of looks like yours... or has a similar build. Just like personal preference. It also depends on the things and people how "form" you... that you grow up with. And of course it's a matter of culture and time... The public's or society's option on beauty is part of it too.

    I think in the end we do make up our own mind... all this things helped and kind of 'formed' us but it's our mind and history what makes us think of our version of beauty.

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  • It's mostly cultural.

    link

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    • Neat pic! I wonder about this sometimes...like if we stick Jessica Alba in front of some random tribal member, would he find her attractive? Would be interesting to know!

  • Some of it is evolutional (we want someone who is healthy to reproduce with to create healthy children) so we subconsciously look for facial symmetry, no blemishes, rosy cheeks, full lips, bright eyes, healthy hair, proportional bodies, etc.

    But most of it is based on societal ideals, whether we realize it or not. It's just that these ideals are pushed on us from birth, almost, and we internalize them. It's not necessarily such a horrible thing, but it's true.

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    • Do you think societies as a whole agree on our ideas of beauty (Western ideas)? Good point about evolution and societal influence...

    • Well it differs between different cultures. But as technology develops and the spread of information is even faster, Western culture is even more prevalent than it was, say, 100 years ago, so Western beauty ideals are becoming more prevalent throughout the world.

    • Good point! Yeah I know once television was introduced to some islands, there were increased cases of body issues with the girls there...

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