Relative to the Eye of the Beholder
“I always find beauty in the things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting,” said Marc Jacobs, an American fashion designer. He has the opinion that beauty is in the odd. On the other hand, Kahlil Gibran, a poet who lived from 1883 to 1931, who says “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” Gibran’s opinion is that beauty is found in the heart. Everyone has their own opinion on beauty, and no one sees beauty the same as another person. Beauty is perceived differently. Beauty is relative.
Although many people believe that everything should be beautiful, no one agrees on what that is. Beautiful is defined as pleasing the senses or mind aesthetically, but how does one define what pleases someone’s senses? No one can. Everyone thinks differently. Even science seems to be confused on what beauty truly is. One person may think that Guernica, by Picasso, is a beautiful painting, whereas others may believe it is deeply disturbing. People have differing opinions, especially on the subject of beauty. Humans are drawn to beautiful things, yet science cannot explain why, nor can it explain why things that are beautiful to one person are not necessarily beautiful to others.
People around the world have differing views on beauty. Some tribes in Thailand see women as beautiful if they have long necks. Because of this girls as young as five begin wearing brass rings around their neck to elongate them. Whereas some Ethiopian tribes think that scars on women’s bodies are beautiful, and women practice self-scarring. In Iran, having a nose job is a status symbol and people will wear their post-surgery bandages for longer than needed or create fake ones. All across the world, the symbols of what make people beautiful are different and unique to that culture and set of people.
Likewise, beauty changes from time period to time period. In the Renaissance, women with light skin, large hips, full bodies, and blonde hair were seen as extremely attractive. In paintings from this era, this type of woman are commonly shown courting with handsome young men. Beauty completely changed in the Victorian era. Women with small waists and large behinds were seen as attractive. Women would go to almost any means necessary to achieve the small waist as well as wear large clothing to make their rear look bigger. Today, having flawless skin and being skinny, but not as sickeningly skinny as in Victorian times, are seen as beautiful. Many people, not just limited to teenagers, use medicine and facial scrubs to rid their skin of pimples. People also go to extreme lengths for a small waist, everything from diet and exercise to anorexia and bulimia are used to get and stay skinny. Even though someone may be considered beautiful by today’s standards, chances are if you go back a few centuries, maybe even only decades, they wouldn’t be considered so beautiful anymore.
Some people may say that the media controls beauty because magazines and Television shows tell people how to look and what to wear to be beautiful. Because of this, some people believe that the only reason certain cultures have their standards of beauty is because the media tells them what is beautiful. However, if media controls what people see as beautiful, why do some men like blondes whereas others like brunettes? If the media is why people see beauty the way they do, why does one woman see a man as handsome while another woman sees him as ugly? The media influences people’s opinions of beauty, but a person will form their own opinions of beauty as they grow up and learn about the world around them.
With changing worldviews on beauty and new fads starting every day, many things can influence a person’s opinion on beauty. No matter how the worldviews change remember this: ¨Be your own kind of beautiful¨ as stated by Marilyn Monroe, because one thing remains as a constant. Beauty changes. Beauty is relative to the eye of the beholder.