The concept of beauty is a controversial issue in today’s look-oriented modern society as the media constantly tries to give it a set definition. Motivated by material profit, television programs, glamorous magazines, and fashionable websites often provide their own distorted image of the perfect human being. However, due to the fact that it is a subjective and relative concept, beauty is indefinable and therefore an unreachable and utopian ideal. The idea of beauty has undergone a great amount of changes over time, and as a result it is indefinable and almost impossible to give a completely factual definition.
What people considered to be beautiful years ago no longer pertains to today’s modern society. These changes can be seen especially through the changes in the preferences of the female body image. During the Victorian Era, women were considered beautiful if they were plump and full-figured, as it was a sign of their wealth. Oftentimes they wore tight corsets that made their waists unrealistically thin while accentuating their hips, breasts, and buttocks.
However at the start of the 1900’s being slender became more fashionable, as women were encouraged to be more physically fit and the idea of the “Gibson Working Girl” was created as the epitome of physical attractiveness. During this time period women often bound their breasts in order to create a more slender appearance. By the 1950’s “beautiful” women were thin and had a large bustline, like Mariyln Monroe who was a size sixteen. In today’s western modern society the perfect and ideal weight of women involves being skinny and having large breasts, which is normally achieved through cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction and breast implants.
Like the ideal image of beauty is unobtainable because it changes over time, it is also relative because it varies between cultures. Different cultures have varying definitions of beauty depending on their societal trends and traditions, making it impossible to have a set designation for the term. People often go through a great amount of trouble in order to fit in with their own culture’s unique definition of beauty. In Asian cultures it is considered attractive to have pale skin, and many Asians often wear sun masks or carry parasols to avoid coloration.
Some even powder their faces in order to make their complexion paler and thus more “attractive”. In Western civilizations like America, perfect skin is often characterized as being tan, and many Americans often risk their own health by visiting tanning salons. Americans also use expensive bronzers and fake tanning sprays that give their skin a more golden color. Cultural differences of beauty can even be traced back to the Native Americans who tightly bounded their heads with cloth in order to elongate their skulls.
Similar to variations among cultures, definitions of beauty are also subjective as they can also differ among individuals. Beauty is a relative ideal as its meaning differs among individuals. While some may view beauty as based on inner traits such as personality, intelligence, confidence, grace, charm, and elegance, others may believe that it is only physical factors that make a person attractive. People’s perceptions of beauty are often reflected in their fashion styles and depicted in the clothes that they wear. Many strive to create their own unique style which shows their individual opinion on what they perceive as alluring.
One person may find that a leopard print jacket, a yellow tank top, and pink polka dot shorts are beautiful, while another could disagree entirely. Each person is entitled to their own beliefs. Beauty cannot have a set definition, or else it would ruin the natural sanctity of human individual uniqueness. Its value can only be determined at a personal level. True beauty comes from within a person and is an expression of a person’s own identity. Although beauty is relative because it varies among individuals, many people still try to achieve it through pointless and risky cosmetic surgery, and unsafe diets.
While beauty is subjective as it often changes throughout time, among cultures, and varies between individuals, many still make the choice to undergo irreversible surgeries in order to artificially make themselves more attractive. Science is placed above nature, as people destroy their bodies in order to feel a small and most likely temporary sense of attractiveness. The website beauty101. org defines beauty as “a characteristic of a person, place, object or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction;” By this definition painful cosmetic surgery and rueling fad diets go against the ideals of beauty as they typically are not pleasurable, are meaningless, and overall are unhealthy. There is no point in cutting a totally healthy body, and cosmetic surgery takes away from appearances given to humans by nature. Unhealthy eating decisions also contribute to the distortion of the ideas of beauty, and in a study conducted by the South Carolina Department of Mental Heath, it was concluded that around eight million Americans every year struggle with the hardships that come with an eating disorder. Beauty is ubiquitous, and people need to embrace that everyone is beautiful in their own unique way.