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There has been a change in the characteristics of beauty amongst people in the society, from the internal and physical characteristics combined, to the physical looks of the people. The research looks into the reasons for the change and such factors as the media are mentioned as the contributing factors to this change. The paper makes recommendations to the media to avoid the use of only some qualities of physical looks, like the skin color and the body shape as the gold standard of beauty.
According to Gary, (2007), beauty is a person's characteristic which provides a perception of meaning, satisfaction, pleasure and meaning. An ideal beauty is a person or an entity which is admired by people or has some features which a particular culture attributes to beauty or perfection. Some people claim that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. This means that what is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another person. Gary, (2007) argues that people have different ratings and factors to consider in beauty and thus beauty is more of subjective than objective. However, there are others who claim that beauty is a universal quality and there are people who are seen as beautiful by every person while others appear ugly to everyone. Thus the notion that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder appears to only serve the purpose of consolation to those who are not beautiful. There are certain characteristics which the every society looks at to determine if a person is beautiful or not and these traits seem to be similar in most of the cultures (Rhodes, 2006).
On the other hand, beauty can also be defined as a state whereby a person is in harmony and balance with nature making the person has a sense of emotional satisfaction and a feeling of attraction (Rhodes, 2006). This illustrates that beauty can be looked at from an internal perspective, where a person has a positive reflection about him/herself and having a meaning to personal existence. Therefore, a person's beauty can be defined as any characteristic which goes hand in hand with a personal meaning. In other cultures like in Greek, beauty was regarded as being of one's own time. A lady who wants to appear older than she is was not regarded as beautiful just like a lady who wants to appear younger. As reported by Rhodes (2006), in Greek, the foundation of beauty was in the ability of a person to live his own time and not to try to live like you do not want to accept your status.
Historical Perspective of Beauty
The preference of people to have beautiful faces over ugly faces starts very early in life (Rhodes, 2006). Young girls and boys begin to understand what beauty is and start admiring those who appear beautiful. The standards of attractiveness are similar across most of the cultures and genders, according to Rhodes, (2006). Some researchers argue that symmetry forms an important part of beauty to any person. Therefore, people who appear like they have bodies which are not symmetrical are likely to be classified as ugly people while those who are symmetrical in shape are said to be beautiful. The history of beauty dates back to the architecture of ancient Greek where beauty was based on the view of proportion and symmetry. The architectures designed houses which were symmetrical and everything appeared proportion with the rest of the things in the house. The architecture had discovered that things which are symmetrical were more likely to be viewed by people as being beautiful while those which were not were regarded as ugly. The architecture used this believe and started constructing houses which would be very pleasing to the people. This is what made the architectures design houses which were considered as very beautiful even today.
According to Rhodes (2006), human beauty has been based on both physical and internal beauty whether by community consensus or individuals. The inner beauty is further classified in to the following psychological factors: grace, intelligence, politeness, elegance, congruence, charisma, integrity and personality. This is regarded as the most important form of beauty in the society. a person who is very intelligent but physically appearing bad might be regarded as beautiful while another one who appears very beautiful outside but with a questionable character might not be regarded as beautiful. This illustrates the importance of the psychological factors in the definition of beauty on the communal perspective. The physical perspective of beauty involves the following: First, a health person is regarded as beautiful. This means an individual who appears like he or she is physically fit will be said she is beautiful compared to another who appears to be in bad health. A person with a facial symmetry will be regarded as beautiful as naturally people would like someone who appears symmetrically made. Other factors which mater on a physical perspective includes youthfulness, complexion and averageness.
Rhodes, (2006) further argues that our societies have given a lot of praise for to the youthful appearances and youthful actions. This has created a notion that being youth is being beautiful and thus made many people to start acting as if they were youth. These include the visiting of joints which are visited by the young people, the use of clothes used by the young people and the joining of groups of young people. People who want the society to appreciate them as beautiful have a tendency to behave like young people, standing out prominently as a person who is old but with youthful characters. Depending on the setting of the society, these people may either be praised or cursed.
For a long time, many societies have used skin color to determine if someone is beautiful or not. In some cases, people who have light skin are regarded as beautiful while those with dark skin are regarded as ugly. This is more common in the African societies whereby people born with a light skin will have an advantage over the rest of the people. Because everyone wants to be regarded as beautiful, the temptation of young girls who are black to bleach themselves is quite high. Most girls will apply steroids so that their skin can become thin and lighter than they were before. Although the person may appear beautiful, there consequences for use of such medications to change ones color. The person will become exposed to the direct sunrays thus making her be predisposed to skin cancers including squamous cell carcinoma. Others undergo plastic surgery to change their color and this predisposes them to the risk associated with surgery and the change in the skin color (Leroi, 2003).
In agreement with Rhodes (2006), Leroi, (2003) argues to the effect that this is the characteristic of an individual to appear like all the body parts are of the right size. The ability of the different parts of the body to be in harmony is very essential in the determination of beauty. People have realized this and they undergo plastic surgeries to correct deformities which make some of their organs appear either small or large. Averageness is also considered when people visit the gym. Their main objective is to trim the sizes of their body so that it appears proportional. If a person has a large abdomen, visiting the gym will ensure that the abdomen is reduced to the appropriate size so that her body appears average. They want to make the abdomen be in the right size like the rest of the organs. Gyms are gaining popularity as people start being sensitive to their looks. Although some people visit the gym for the purpose of maintaining their body physically fit and thus avoid diseases, a vast number of them visit the gym for the purpose of ensuring that all their organs are of the required quality and thus beautiful. It has been shown that there is a constant quest for beauty for all people and most of the people concentrate on the physical element of beauty.
Influence of Media
As argued by Leroi, (2003), the media the media has on the perception of beauty cannot be brushed aside. The televisions carry the pictures and videos of people who are perceived as beautiful. People will tend to make themselves appear like the person in the television or on the magazine since they take that person as the gold standard of beauty. This is the reason as to why when there is a person who is light skinned used in an advert, there will be a vast number of girls who will want to bleach their skin or undergo plastic surgery so as to look like that person. The increased desire of the people to develop beautiful images and bodies has been contributed partly by the media especially in the advertisements. The young people will tend to spend a lot of their time in a beauty parlor so as to look like a person who she saw on the television. The media has actually contributed to eating disorders in the viewers. This is because some of the viewers will tend to cut their diet so that they slim like a model seen on the television. Leroi, (2003) argues that the media has contributed to the use of the unhealthy habits in young ladies as they try to make their bodies appear like the one on the television or magazine.
Leroi, (2003) contends that naturally, human beings are programmed to be perpetual. For them to achieve this quality, they have attraction towards each other, which is for opposite sex so that they can be able to mate and procreate. Males are usually attracted to those ladies who appear beautiful. It has been argued that beauty in a lady is as a result of female hormones. Those ladies who have a lot of female hormones are likely to be more beautiful than their colleagues. Since the female hormones are the ones which determine the fertility of an individual, the more beautiful a woman is, the more likely that she will be beautiful. Males seem to have been conditioned to this naturally. This is because they tend to choose those ladies who appear very beautiful and those with an hour glass appearance, which is associated with high levels of estrogen. It is like the men have been conditioned to select mates depending on their hormonal levels and thus their fertility although they do so unconsciously (Rhodes, 2006).
According to Leroi, (2003), since all the people want to get partners, everyone is busy trying to make herself stand out as the most beautiful. Most of the ladies will do anything to make themselves appear the most beautiful and be recognized by all the men they come across. A research carried out by Carpenter, (1866) showed that the driving factor for most of the ladies to be more beautiful was to standout among the rest of the ladies and thus attract more men to their side. Thus, the issue of getting a mate is considered as the most important driving factor towards the individuals search for beauty.
Beauty is a term which has been put across by several authors as being subjective and not objective. There has been an increase in the number of people who want to change their natural build to acquire a new look which they consider as being more beautiful. Although this may be beneficial to them socially on the short term basis, the people are likely to suffer a lot of consequences in the future. The media can be blamed for the change in attitude about beauty in the people especially in the young people.
People should change their attitude on beauty from the current physical looks to be both internal and physical looks. Beauty comprises of these two components and the leaving out of one and concentrating on another will distort the purpose and the meaning of beauty. The media should try and eliminate the adverts and other pictures and videos which seem to favor certain physical characteristics in regard to beauty. Lastly, people especially young people should desist from trying some things which in short term will make them beautiful but at long term will make them suffer.