Beauty may be skin deep but if we were to take a closer look at our history, you would see that this term, “beauty” has driven many a man to extreme lengths, even including war. Beauty is the stuff of legends and more so when it comes to the question of definition. Why is someone more beautiful than another? The Cambridge Dictionary defines beauty as, ‘an attractive quality that gives pleasure to those who experience it or think about it, or a person who has this attractive quality.’
With that said, we can acknowledge ‘beauty’ is, as the saying goes, ‘in the eye of the beholder.’ An attractive quality does not therefore have to mean physical appearance. Beauty can be bestowed by someone’s personality traits or even by an infectious giggle in a sudden moment’s communication. Perhaps someone becomes beautiful to another due to a thoughtful deed or kind words.
For the benefit of the popular perception of beauty let’s cover the physical traits of beauty. A red rose can be beautiful because of its gleaming red petals. A ball gown can be deemed ‘beautiful’ due to its neat trim and gleaming silk material. Physical attraction is of course important for the survival of a species. Nature has engineered it that men are attracted to women so that we will reproduce. Women typically have softer features, almost unchanged from childhood. Biology, thus, with age has not taken completely away from that physical trait which makes adults want to care for and parent. PsychologyToday looked into the subject. According to Dr. Enrique Turiégano, a co-author of the study:
While both men and women agreed that facial symmetry was an important factor in determining facial attractiveness, women seemed to think facial dimorphism (femininity) was more important than men actually thought it was. Men, however, placed more value on facial averageness and facial maturity (youth) than did women.
Interestingly our biological attraction makes common sense. Symmetrical faces are associated with good health and reproductive quality, scientists have generally found facial symmetry to be perceived as more attractive by the opposite sex.
Of no surprise studies highlighted in psychology Today state that familiarity of physical features also count towards someone’s attraction. There is another old saying boys are attracted to women who look like their mother. The fact is that we attribute this quantity to something that is pleasing to the eye and to the beholder, but that seems to be too relative as what may appears pleasing to one person need not appeal to another.
It is this ‘beauty’ that started many a war starting with the legend of Helen of Troy; the consensus is that a war did indeed take place and Troy was leveled but archeologists’ are yet to find conclusive proof of Helen’s existence. Legend says she was the most beautiful girl in Greece and the daughter of the ruler of the Universe, Zeus – this, the odds are will never be proven. I digress, does this mean that the whole story about a face launching a thousand ships is all make-believe? Not necessarily, for just because we have not been able to determine the existence of one person does not mean that the Trojan war did not take place.
But we have other examples of real-life historical people who changed the course of human history with their beauty such as Queen Cleopatra herself. With her beauty, she was able to beguile and bewitch the Roman dictator Caesar as well as his second in command, Mark Anthony, which only goes to show you that beauty can indeed play a very powerful role and can even shape the history of the world. On the evidence of portrait coins struck by Cleopatra, philosophers such as Blaise Pascal assumed her prominent nose was an element of the physical attraction with which she seduced Julius Caesar and Mark Antony thus changing the course of the history of the world.
Roman statesman Cassius Dio, claims that when Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) first met Cleopatra, “she was a woman of surpassing beauty, and at the time 48 BC, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most stunning”
But importantly, beauty often goes way beyond physical appearances and can rely on other facets such as power, wealth and intellect. A recent archeological survey turned up Cleopatra’s sculpture, as she would have looked and it seems that she was not so beautiful looking. However, she was able to bring Rome crashing down before her with her intellect? Dr. Sarah B. Pomeroy, a social historian claims among her piers, that Cleopatra forged her powerful position with her, ‘intellectual capacities, strategic talent and formidable wealth’.
All told beauty is in the eye of the beholder and may encompass attributes of physical, personality, social rank and wealth among others. In life actually the enjoyment can be in striving for a goal. The work put in to make your business grow or to have a family of your own. Beauty is no different. A day at a spa is a very enjoyable trip where people will meet others and socialize. Beauty salons are no different where typically women will enjoy socializing, having their nails polished and their hair styled in the name of beauty.
An ancient quote is as valid today as in ages gone by:
People like your for your beauty, they love you for your imperfections.
Actress Audrey Hepburn once wisely said:
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.
This only goes to show you that ‘beauty’ is so much more than about the admiration of physical features and the admiration of good looks. We should look at the beauty within someone which does not fade with age or depend on an accident of birth. The beauty within does not helplessly decay like the body we’re born with.