Erenlai - Items filtered by date: Thursday, 19 February 2009
Friday, 20 February 2009 00:12

Skin Deep Beauty

For a long time I have been taught to percept beauty through the criteria that existed with the media in a 90s’ kid’s world. I thought mother’s hair would be worthier of praise had it been voluminous and blonde like Brigitte Bardot’s, brows as defined as the ones of Gong Li, and eyes as startling as Monica Vitti’s to be considered beautiful. I was highly critical when it came to granting the term.

I was one poorly misled 90s’ kid.

Then the ever-so brought up phrase ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’ came along, and it was no longer so easy to determine whether one’s face was worthy to be termed beautiful anymore without consulting the opinion of numerous others. With each year beauty became less attainable and I found myself staggering to keep up with the archetypal beauty icons that ran out of fashion almost as soon as it achieved its term. From the voluptuous standards of Monroe in the 50s’ (hardly my era) to the early 90s underweight sylph-like look embodied by Kate Moss, I do believe somewhere along the way young women have developed a dangerous fascination with the appearance of successful pop icons- a fascination that has evolved into uniform criteria in judging beauty.

Beauty and Media

I, for one, developed a highly unusual taste and perception of female beauty in failing to personify the ever-changing criteria of beauty. Aside from pop culture, my environment also played a large part in altering my perceptions of beauty. In the three different continents I have been brought up in, it took me some time to realise and accustom myself to the idea that there was little uniformity in the African, Asian and European perception of beauty. Fair skin tones are widely embraced by the majority of the Asian society while the deeply tanned skin tone was more welcomed by Europeans. One would not also expect the same admiration for a Junoesque type in Asia than one would in Africa.
Is beauty then a trend based on practice/culture or does it take on a magpie-like theft of the styles of successful pop icons in different places? Is beauty subjective or is there a more scientific, universal rule to beauty? Why do we consistently agree (more or less) on dubbing certain celebrities as beauties or hunks? Looking at our past beauty icons I’d think that the consistency of change in the general public’s opinion on beauty is largely due to their acceptance of a particular ‘look’, that dominates the previous looks with increased popularity that come with success in career and personal interactions.

The Math Behind the Beauty

What determines beauty? In a research conducted by the University of Exeter, babies were exposed to pictures of individuals, some attractive and some less attractive. Babies were found to have cried and stayed away from the less attractive ones, while spending more time looking at the faces of attractive women. It turns out, scientists have found a pattern to beauty and one of them is known as the Golden Ratio - derived from the Fibonacci Numbers that we once learned back in school. The length of the nose, the position of the eyes, and the length of the chin, all conform to certain aspects of the Golden Ratio. A researcher comments: “Attractiveness is not simply in the eye of the beholder, it is in the brain of the newborn infant right from the moment of birth and possibly prior to birth”.

Perhaps beauty is simply skin deep despite what all may say and that we really do have a penchant for faces with the Golden Ratio. A look at the booming cosmetic, aesthetic and entertain industry and we’d know that we are after all, a generation that seeks a beauty that is both culturally dependent and idiosyncratic, appointed by measurements and proportions with positive attributes being a bonus.

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