Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder ? or does society say who is beautiful and who is not ?

Apr 18, 2012
by: delgen

“Beauty” is subjective, that’s something I learned as I grew up. What beauty really was seemed to change according to whom I asked. Growing up I was a very insecure girl, I always wanted to know who thought I was attractive and who didn’t. Most of the people that found me attractive were my skin color (dark) while those that didn’t were lighter skinned, it really bothered me. I remember growing up the thicker girls would always get picked on, no matter how cool or pretty they were. I knew this one boy that liked a big girl, but wouldn’t date her because he was too concerned what his friends thought. I also know a light skinned boy that liked me but wouldn’t date me because he too was too concerned what his friends thought about him dating a dark skinned girl. I have always wondered what made it so bad to date a big or dark skinned girl. What is it that makes it so shameful? I believe society does. The real question is: Does society influence people’s perceptions on beauty in a woman?

Since I didn’t have the answer to my questions, I decided to do research on the topic. On I read the article “Be Realistic! How Technology Affects Your Perception of Beauty” by Dr. Robert Tornambe, Dr Tornambe suggests that societies progression or advancements in technologies have effected what is perceived as beauty today. He says that now-a-days new technologies such as social networking sites make regular women feel just like or equal to celebrity women, because sites like twitter and “Facebook” show that mentally celebrities are just like regular people, so because women feel they’re just like celebrities they feel the need to look just like the women do on the movies and magazines. In addition, because social networking sites like Twitter did not exist, women back then did not feel equal too celebrity women, therefore they did not feel the need to look as good as them, that is why there is more pressure to look “good” now then there was then.
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One piece of the article that really stood out to me was: “The bar for women has been set unrealistically high by the role models people have today. Thanks to Photoshop and other photo-editing software, photos may be manipulated to make their subjects look thinner or heavier, taller or shorter, bustier or flatter chested. Wrinkles can be magically erased and prized features, such as pronounced cheekbones, can be enhanced. The touch-up technician has become an essential part of every photo project. So the inevitable question arises: How can women, young or not, aspire to look like modern-day role models when the role models themselves don't even look like their photos,” I found this part of the article very fascinating because now-a-days women want to look like the women in the movies or on the magazines when in reality those women have flaws just like every other girls. This article brought me to the conclusion that one way society affects one perception of beauty is through the media.

Another article I read was “Perceptions Of Female Beauty In The 20th Century” by Louise Wood. In his article Louise suggests that another issue that affects people’s perceptions of beauty is the increasing use of cosmetics. Now-a-days a lady that uses cosmetics is beautiful or the ideal woman, while back then natural beauty was applauded way more. He says “One of the main elements of this century's perception of beauty that sets it apart from the 19th century is the polarity of cosmetics. In the last century, cosmetics were frowned upon in society as the mark of a prostitute.” I find it interesting how so many women depend on cosmetics now-a-days.
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However; the most interesting influence on people’s perception of beauty that I read about is toys. According to “How Biology and Culture Influence Our Perception of Beauty” on, The image of Barbie dolls that are made now-a-days change young girls perception of what is beautiful, it makes them want to look like the barbies. The article says: “At around the age of 3 or 4, a child may receive her first Barbie doll. Barbie is a slim curvaceous beautiful women, in many peoples eyes Barbie was flawless. She was and is still portrayed as many young girls role model. If Barbie was blown to life size she would be 5 foot 9 inches, her chest would measure at 36 inches, her waist 8 inches and her hips would be 33 inches. Barbie would weigh 110 pounds which is severely underweight. Young girls have been swayed far more than just by Barbie. In 2001 a new doll was released called "Bratz Dolls". They are sexy dolls with a curvaceous shape, and pouty lips, and tone of makeup. The outfits that come with the dolls are very revealing. These dolls promote superficiality and create unrealistic ideas of body image in the mind of these children.”
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In “Why Does Society Put So Much Pressure On Women?!” another article I read on the by user “hubberonetwothree” suggested that society does in fact influence people’s perceptions on beauty. This particle piece in this article really stood out to me: “Every culture’s society and media, and the pressures and standards they create, are influential on its citizens. In some places in China, it is seen as beautiful to have very small feet, while in some Somali cultures it is seen as beautiful to be overweight. Each culture’s media sets the standards for what is beautiful and what is not.” This part answered my question: “Does society influence people’s perceptions on beauty?” and evidently it does. What society says is beautiful is what people believe to be beautiful, the big question is why. Why is it that people follow what society says is beautiful, why don’t people have and accept their own opinions?
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According to article “Why Do People Follow The Crowd?” written by the journalist of, people follow crowds, and society because of the human need to conform. A conformist is one who follows to feel secure with the self and please others as well. Within the article, interviewed people said things such as "I think the majority of people will look to see what others are doing and follow their example," and "I think I tend to do that, doubt myself when everyone else has their own opinion” These two statements I gathered from the article give you a sense of why people tend to follow others instead of themselves.
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There are many different issues with society that affect people’s perceptions on beauty such as the media, cosmetics, conformity, and even toys. Personally I think everyone is beautiful in their own way, and since beauty is subjective and in the eye of the beholder everyone should feel beautiful rather than ugly.


Truth about beauty

Submitted by tatianar on Mon, 2012-04-23 15:28.

Dear Genesis,

I felt satisfied by your post, "Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? Or does society say who is beautiful and not?" because it actually open my eyes to new things. I agree with everything said and also have a slightly different perception of beauty now.

One sentence you wrote that stood out for me was when you said the media messes with people's perception of what beauty is. I think this is deferentially true. The media has all these movies, TV shows, magazines and models etc. out in this world showing us their examples of what beauty is and should be. Now you have every person out there trying to look like what's on TV. All I can say is, that's crazy.

Another sentence that caught my eye was when you said even a new doll was put out called the brat doll. It is true everything you say about these brat dolls. It's actually funny because those were my favorite dolls, and I had so many of them. Now that I think of it, I do realize those dolls were a little too R-rated for little girls.

I remember when I had all my brat dolls, and I used to have my favorite certain one. Her name was Megan, and she was like a nice glowing color. Her hair was two-tone with blonde and brown. Her eyes were big and beautiful. Her lips were shapely and full with a nice color. She had a nice little beauty mark by her eye, and overall her makeup was looking right. I used to call myself her all the time until I grew out of it. I realized the natural look is better.

Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because this topic was an interesting one, and I know you will have more like this. This was an important topic the world should know about.