What Does It Mean To Be Beautiful?

Photo courtesy Emily Soto.
Photo courtesy Emily Soto.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or, so the saying goes), but we can all agree that certain people, objects and landscapes are objectively beautiful. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think the Grand Canyon is stunning, or someone who doesn’t think Beyonce is drop dead gorgeous — but what inherent qualities make them beautiful?

Humans are simply wired to think some people are more beautiful than others. According to a recent article on CNN, studies find that symmetrical faces are universally considered more attractive than asymmetrical faces, which is likely based on biological factors. Even babies have indicated their preference for symmetry!

Beauty contestants pose at the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo courtesy Florida Memory.
Beauty contestants pose at the beach in St. Petersburg, Florida. Photo courtesy Florida Memory.

So, if we’re drawn to symmetry in general — how is beauty distinguished in sexual versus platonic relationships? Research shows that women seeking male companionship are drawn to rugged men with strong immune systems and high testosterone levels. Meanwhile, women seeking female friendships are drawn to those who are at the same level of subjective attractiveness as themselves.

“We compare how we think we look to how other people look, and we make a decision about whether we’re much better or much worse,” National Institutes of Health researcher Heather Patrick tells CNN.

Ultimately, people tend to measure not just their self-worth in terms of their beauty, but the self worth of others. Those who are lucky enough to be viewed as beautiful are more likely to succeed, more likely to earn a high salary, and even more likely to positively influence a jury during a criminal trial. Which explains so much about some of our favorite hell-raising celebrities.

Do you think human beauty is 100-percent subjective, or do you find yourself drawn to symmetrical features? Tell us about your experiences in the comments, and check out Modern Women’s Portraiture — taught by four beauty whisperers: Sue Bryce, Lara Jade, Emily Soto, and Lou Freeman.

Source: CNN


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Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.