Beauty, Media

Understanding Beauty. (Or Not.)

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It’s very natural to want to create beauty in every aspect of our lives.  We do, after all, have an instinctive attraction to beauty that stirs our very souls.  Of course, there are, currently, quite a lot of forces at work in our society that push us towards unrealistic standards of beauty, be it impossibly “beautiful” homes we are told we need, to impossibly “beautiful” bodies and faces we are told we should emulate.

Back in 2008, I was a little obsessed with America’s Next Top Model.  I’m not quite sure why, to be honest.  But I did know that while the show was based on a desire to promote different types of beauty, as stated by Tyra Banks, it focused on a still quite narrow definition: tall, thin, thick hair, and long legs are some of the features I remember off the top of my head.

I sometimes wonder if we are all attracted to these features because we are told they are beautiful, or if there is something inherently more beautiful about them.  Then again, if the former were true, then all cultures and civilizations around the world throughout time would adulate the same type of beauty, no?  Which, as we know, is definitely not the case.

Based on this—that beauty really is, in other words, in the eye of the beholder—then we should support, as much as possible, media that promotes as many different types of beauty.  But the interesting thing is that despite a slowly broadening of options available to us, we still don’t back up our words with action.  For example, while we like the idea of, say, Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, consumers still gravitate towards purchasing products that feature women who portray the least accessible standards of beauty—i.e. those who make them feel bad about themselves.

In other words, it seems like we all still want to reach for the stars, even if we know that it is impossible to reach them, however hard we try.

It is quite the tangled web that we have collectively weaved, and it is not a simple blog post that will solve it all (I wish!)  But I do think that small, simple, and, most importantly, regular contributions to the conversation are essential to advancing our collective definition and relationship with beauty.  And to me, one of the most exciting part about coming to a better understanding of beauty is that, by broadening our understanding of this concept, we will be seeing it increasingly around us—truly making the world a more beautiful place.

{ Sahar’s Blog is all about being in a constant state of learning.  So it only made sense for me to go back to all my previous posts and see how my thoughts on certain topics have changed over the last nine years.  In this new, ongoing series of posts, I’ll be rereading some of my older posts and reflecting on the same topic in light of what I’ve learned since then.  It’s going to be very interesting to see how things have changed! }


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3 thoughts on “Understanding Beauty. (Or Not.)

  1. I make a point to talk with my girls about nontraditional ways people are beautiful. I recently threw my 4-year-old for a loop when I talked about a personality trait, strength, as a reason someone was beautiful. She was confused, but the more I bring up actual aspects of beauty—kindness, generosity, bravery—the more she’ll get used to them. I hope!

  2. I think observing our definition of beauty, whether in the human form or even in what we see around us is very important. Why do we pull away from ‘ugly’ or ‘deformed’ fruits and vegetables? It’s almost irrational!

    I had read an article a long time ago that as humans, we use to be attracted to a certain symmetrical beauty (i.e. facial dimensions, body dimensions of the opposite sex) because that’s how our bodies determined whether the other person was healthy/had good genes for us to procreate. In other words, it was a natural process to ensure our own survival. But I think that nowadays, we might have kept those same instincts even though as a society we have evolved. So how do we update our definition and perspective of beauty? The first step is definitely talking about it and bringing it to the forefront!

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