The Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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The Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

This essay will explore the philosophical and cultural dimensions of the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It will discuss how perceptions of beauty vary across different societies and historical periods, and how they are influenced by factors such as culture, media, and personal experiences. The piece will also examine the implications of this subjectivity for concepts of self-image, aesthetics, and art. More free essay examples are accessible at PapersOwl about Beauty.

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The common cliché goes “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Is there any real meaning to that? The expression simply means that beauty has no set meaning, definition, or even value for that matter. It is a collectively undecided notion, since its definition lies solely in observation. It also implies that each individual may interpret the idea of beauty (of people, objects, thoughts, etc.) according to his/her own biased, genetic, emotional, cultural, social, and spiritual needs. Having said that, most people feel they ‘intuitively’ know and ‘understand’ what is meant by beauty in their mind’s eye.

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What is beauty? How do we decide who is attractive and who is not? Society is full of information telling us what is beautiful, but what fact is that information based on? The topic of beauty has been studied, analyzed and controversial for centuries. We all know the feeling you can have when you hear a beautiful song that brings joy to your heart, stand in a field of flowers that excites your eyes, or admire a face that is visually pleasing. As human beings, we are all drawn to beauty, but what is it that makes something beautiful?

The controversial issue that surrounds beauty is that some believe that true beauty is defined by someone’s outer appearance, while others believe it is something that is experienced through a person’s character. Beauty is defined as “the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit.” The secret of beauty has been a quest of humans for centuries. It has been determined that women and some men spend up to one-third of their income on products and procedures that enhance their looks. We spend way too much time looking in the mirror, scrutinizing, worrying, fretting, and wishing we could change something about ourselves. We dream of looking like the girl at work because she has great hair, or the girl we met at a party because she was skinny, with the perfect nose. This happens because we are constantly being bombarded with messages from social media. Altogether, the adage asserts that beauty is purely reliant on one’s own personal preference and perceptions of it. In other words, beauty is relative.

Therefore, even if I find rather repulsive what you call beautiful, our differences in opinion are both justified and simultaneously true, even if either side disagrees with that fact. This concept explains much in our past and current culture today. The arguments between countless teenagers and parents regarding choice of music and its proper volume make sense – both are right, just with different perceptions of what each would call beautiful, or pleasurable. America as a whole in the past century is a prime example of this. After World War I, the image of the flapper – women with short skirts, short hair, and skinny bodies – became beautiful, followed by the famous image of a pale Marilyn Monroe standing on an air vent, skirt blowing upwards. In America today many would identify beauty as Megan Fox’s tanned and thin hourglass shape, while in Africa a tribesman would find a far larger woman with nose rings attractive. Chinese women still inflict tortuous pains on themselves with the practice of foot binding in pursuit of beauty.

Obviously, beauty varies and morphs into whatever ideal the culture sets for it. If you took the time to analyze each person you encountered, touch every blade of grass you walked upon, or reenact every event you possess in your memory, then you would successfully know what beauty was. A pretty face is not a complete definition of beauty, nor is the quality of one being kind and compassionate. To contain beauty, someone or something does not have to be physically beautiful. Beauty is everywhere. Take a simple flower. Your first glance at a flower would not establish its beauty. You look at its whole appearance; the color(s), structure, scent, design, and even ponder for a while about its growth process. All of these observations of a flower lead to its defining beauty. Now take a simple person and relate it to a flower. In many cases, people describe beauty by one thing… the physical appearance.

However, think about it… Would you think a flower was still beautiful if its smell was outrageously disgusting? The color of the flower is like the personality of a person. The structure is like one’s confidence and impact upon others, the scent, is like someone’s overall personality, the design but one’s individualism, and a flowers growth process is merely like an individual’s own history. the sight”. Over a long period of time, the meaning of beauty has changed. The way beauty was seen in the past, have been slightly modified into something totally different today. For many years, there has been that one question that has not been proven, even until now. There are few people who have their own opinion on this issue. There have been many ancient philosophers who have debated on this such issue. Are individuals actually looking or acting as themselves, or is it all an act to fit in with the society? Does each person have their own perceptive on beauty? Is the whole world just pretending to be someone else? Are people dressing or behaving in such way they can impress society?

For centuries, beauty has been debated if it was either determined by individual or by society. David Hume explored the view of beauty and believed beauty is individual. He felt each person have their own perspective of beauty. There are few people that try to be different from other as much as possible, but the way society thinks of them changes them completely. Conversely, philosophers such as Hegel and Edmund Burke argued that beauty is determined by society. Aristotle, famous Greek philosopher, has also agreed with what David Hume’s theory of beauty. For example, others say Koreans are very ‘beautiful’. But I am Korean, but I do not think so. I rather think that Americans are more diverse in their personality. Korea follows fashion a lot. Therefore, the same clothes, shoes, hair, and makeup are all the same. Beauty like this is different for each individual. But do we follow the definition of ‘beauty’? I do not think so. Someone feels beauty in flowers but others cannot. But we have no prejudices about it.

I like photography very much. Sometimes I think it is ‘beautiful.’ Do other people think of me the same way? We need to be aware that somebody has different things about beauty. That’s why there are so many ideas about ‘beauty’ in this paper, and we think we need to understand each other. 

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The Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder. (2021, Mar 22). Retrieved from