What is beauty? Round 1.2

Round 1.2: What is Beauty

Welcome to updated round 1 with sources!  

Everyone has some experience with beauty and therefor an opinion of what beauty is. There appears to be some kind of emotional attachment even if you are trying to look at it more objectively.

Let’s start with an understanding that a  beautiful person is someone that holds some combination of both inner beauty and outer beauty. Inner beauty includes but not limited to personality, intelligence, grace, charisma, integrity and elegance,  and outer beauty that includes physical attributes such as harmony, balance, signs of health, youth and fertility. (1) (6)

Somewhere along the line, inner beauty takes a back seat to outer beauty.  Some may argue that outer beauty is simply given more attention initially allowing another person get to know the inner beauty.  I would argue in the pursuit of beauty, we can get lost, exaggeration the value of outer beauty. Others may also argue that there are political and economical  reasons for the promoting a outer beauty and certain characteristics as beautiful. (2) (3)(6)

Beauty is a perceptual experience.  This experience has both a subjective and objective element.  It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (1) The beholder’s perception is influenced by their  own personal experience, the culture they live in and the media they are exposed to. There is studies that argue that attraction to certain qualities are tied  to the evolutionary drive to survive. Physical attributes of health that would improve the odds of procreation. (1) (4) (6) The farther removed people are from the basic need to survive the less meaningful this attributes are and the  more distorted the physical attractive attributes can become. Fashion is an example of how beauty is distorted be the cloths we people wear and less about survival and procreation.

Yes cultural context makes a difference.  History has shown us that perception of beauty changes over time with changes in cultural values within one culture. Not everyone around the world share the  same perception of beauty as Western cultures do. (1)(4) (9) Some cultures value heavier set, other toned others slim, some cultures value lighter skin others tanned others darker.(1) (5)  With the internet and social media more people are exposed to western cultural values and vs versa. Our cultural values will continue to change and what is considered beautiful will change with it (9). Will our perception of beauty opening  or narrowing with the exchange of ideas and values?. What is interesting is the value placed on outer beauty.

Gender and beauty? As a Canadian female teenager  I am not alone in experiencing  pressure to look a certain way , a certain standard of " beauty." Studies have shown  that more teenage girls experience anxiety and pressure to “look”  beautiful. Girls tend to be more social than boys and use of social media sharing selfies which amplifies the drive to “look” beautiful. (6) Studies also show that there is a sharp  rise in teenage males experiencing pressure to look good, with a slim build, stylish hair and defined abs. The emphasis on outer beauty is not limited to females and has similar effect on males as it does females. (8)  There is an increase in eating disorders, anxiety, depression and lowering of self esteem. (8)(9)

What role does social media play defining beauty?  Social media amplifies the current cultural value of outer beauty, allows for and encourages false images or self edited images of outer beauty.(10)  Social media also exposes us to alternate definition of beauty. Social media is this constant assessment and projection of oneself based on a shared image of  each other. Social media has played a key role in the distortion of our perception of beauty, promotion of outer beauty and distraction from experiencing beauty. (10)

In round 2  I want to look at what is the emotional,  political and economic fall out of being defined as beautiful or not. I also want to look at  how beauty and our pursuit of beauty is having an impact on us. How social media affects the experience of  beauty. Take a closer look how what we value is captured in history or altered by historical events. As well as, look at  how the reflection of beauty in media can have an effect the making of history.

Thank you for  insight, ideas and suggestion for further research.  






4https://www.ted.com/talks/anjan_chatterjee_how_your_brain_decides_what_is_beautiful/transcript?language=en .







Original Post

Hey Kaley!

Wow! I'm very intrigued by your inquiry question as it is very broad and subjective. I like when you said how beauty is a mix of inner and outer beauty, but I'm not sure if this is necessarily true. Evidently, with the rise of media, we are exposed to many different forms of advertising - particularly, models. Models are idolized for being beautiful based solely on their external appearance. So, if someone is externally beautiful but is quite rude, does this mean they are in fact not beautiful? 

Perhaps giving your own definition of what 'beauty' is so these two ideas can be separated will be of use. You've done a fantastic job on your research so this is just a suggestion.

Here are some sources that may be of use to you:


Good job and good luck!


I really love your question!!

This topic is relatable for everyone and you did a really great job of organizing and following through with all the research.  I think that you are definitely right about getting lost in the process, and looking at outer beauty.  I think it's really sad that this generation is so focused on outer beauty and the fact that so much depends on what others think of their outer beauty as well.  I am really excited to read your next round as well, especially about the impact the pursuit of beauty has on us.  You might want to look into the things people have done for it, such as people getting plastic surgery to look "better" and even sometimes getting surgery to look like someone else. In the end I think it's all a bit bizarre to go to these extreme lengths because everyone's definition of beauty is different, some people like lots of makeup and others like natural faces.  Witch is another thing you could look into: the trickiness of beauty, because there is no one thing that makes  you beautiful.

Good luck!




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