It is a truth that humans are born to be sexually attracted by the appearance of heterosexual human beings. Equipped with an innate eye for beauty, the sense of admiring physical beauty before appreciating the inner beauty has deep-rooted in our mindset. However, there is a controversial argument pointed out that whether beauty is in the eye of the beholder or there is a unified concept of physical beauty. From the aspects of a different generation and different places, the reasons why there is no universal norm of physic beauty will be recounted in this essay.
First and foremost, generation can be an important criterion that brings about the divergence in physical beauty standards. In the same place, different people may have distinct ideas in physical beauty due to the unique personal value. For instance, in Shang Dynasty, foot-binding was required for the traditional Chinese young ladies. Despite the deformation of the sole, the small foot symbolized beauty due to the concept that was passed on by the older generation. ‘Golden Lotus’, a name given to foot with length around four inches. Lasting for three thousand years, the conventional custom eventually came to the termination in the 1900s when the intelligentsia started to buck the out-fashioned concepts inherited from the ancient (Roy,2010). In modern society, the misconception of beauty by foot-binding no longer exists because of the change in time and the improvement in human civilization. This proved that the beauty standard may undergo a drastic change due to the change in time. What people were concerned about beauty decades ago may not be highly accepted in modern society. As human intelligence improves, people tend to think in a more scientific mindset instead of being superstitious. Therefore, the judgment of beauty is not alike due to the change in time and the improvement in human civilization.
Secondly, how people think about physical beauty may differentiate in different places. The personal value may be affected by the custom in the homeland of the person, leading to the various definition of physical beauty. According to research, people nowadays define beauty using the leg-to-body ratio. Stating in the research, women from the western countries are more obsessed with a higher leg-to-body ratio, while the preference of leg-to-body ratio is sharply differing in northern Namibia, women are more preferred to have a relatively low leg-to-body ratio by a traditional and semi-nomad ethnic group, known as Himba (Mberira, Sorokowski & Sorokowska,2012). Pointing out in another research, an African country, Mauritania, where locals are suffering from serious poverty problems, women are preferred to be overweight as Mauritanians believe that overweight women can only be raised by wealthy families (Naik,2014). The bond between the traditional ideas and the financial status shows that different places affect how people define beauty in the homeland where they grow up. Leading to a variety of norms of physic beauty globally. The definition of physical beauty is therefore in the eye of the beholder rather than a unified concept among different countries and different ethnic groups.
In the meanwhile, part of the researchers gives an opposing stance that a unified standard of beauty is constructed in people’s mindset with the advancement of technological development such as social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, television programs like Miss Hong Kong Pageant and International Beauty Contest, or even the beauty product promotional advertisements. An example of the supportive stance of the universal norm of physical beauty is the social networking sites, where beauty product promotional advertisements are widely popularized (Bartholmess & Robinson, 2011). Mauritania, the country mentioned before, despite the belief of overweight women represent the wealth of the families, the obese women start doing exercise and because of the concept that is widely accepted among the globe that “fit is beauty” (Harter,2004). Apparently, generalizing the new form of beauty by the replication of the importance of physical fitness in the advertisements, net users will eventually be influenced. A universal definition of physical beauty is therefore implanted in people’s mindsets. With the advancement of social networking system development, people are more likely to believe and accept the information provided by the social network. Hence, people have toyed with a unified concept of physical beauty rather than believing their own definition of physical beauty. However, the influence brought by social media is overestimated. Take Wodaabe, a tribe in the western area of the Central African Republic, as an example. Unlike the definition of beauty given by the general public, people living there have a special sense of beauty, for instance, a good dancing ability and an aquiline nose. Criteria of beauty treated by them are not simply limited in appearance, they also believe that fertility and wealth are symbolized by long braids and cowrie shells (Lane,2011). Therefore, the standard of physical beauty is not easily influenced by social networks. Instead, people living in places like Mauritania as abovementioned, have a stronger belief in their own mindset. Thus, the unified norm of physical beauty is not attained.
To sum up, the unified standard of physical beauty does not exist, which shows a great difference comparing with inner beauty. The concept of beauty may vary from generation to generation or diverge in different countries. Social media seems to take an influential role in spurring the idea of standard beauty, but it does not really have the ability in making the world reaching a consensus on the definition of physical beauty standard. Because of the inexistent standard of beauty, it is essential to realize the concept of beauty may differentiate in the eye of the different beholder, meaning that one’s standard of beauty may not fit completely to other people.
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