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Putting a Mirror on Beauty

We can look to biology for a perspective on beauty that defines itself as a trait having evolved out of necessity. The reliance on perceived physical symmetry is an immediate and innate tool used to generalize and indicate the health of one’s genes to elicit not only a desirable candidate for  reproduction, but  high survival rates in offspring as well. Though this is not the only measure of attractiveness, this stance tends to be a view ascribed to Western Society, it is one that can be scientifically proven. When we discuss symmetry it is not necessarily the dimensions and proportions we are referring to but the similarities between the left and right hemispheres of the face. 

“Babies spend more time staring at pictures of symmetric individuals than they do at photos of asymmetric ones. Moreover, when several faces are averaged to create a composite -- thus covering up the asymmetries that any one individual may have -- a panel of judges deemed the composite more attractive than the individual pictures.” (Feng)  

In a study conducted by Louisville University, recipients were shown photos of individuals from racial backgrounds including Caucasian, Latino, and Asian all spanning from a number of different countries. All parties involved were scanned on their preferences for what constituted physical attractiveness and their results proved to be well within the same range. The confirmed outcome was that pictures that were deemed most attractive were the most symmetrical. 

Body proportions, perceived notions of masculinity and femininity, facial symmetry all of these things play a role in how we individually perceive beauty, and can be influenced by the dominant preferences of our society and cultures through their environmental influence, but how  does the “idea” of beauty, (which is completely separate and far more immersive and compelling  than the physically abstract  arrangement of traits we attribute this title), affect the individuals perception of themselves and their worth? Our physical appearances may indicate health, but that proves  they are no more than symbols for something more, and the meanings we attach these symbols are what control our interactions with others and ourselves. 

“In society, attractive people tend to be more intelligent, better adjusted, and more popular. This is described as the halo effect - due to the perfection associated with angels. Research shows attractive people also have more occupational success and more dating experience than their unattractive counterparts.” (Feng) 

It is common among cultures and societies  to hold beauty as synonymous with moral concepts of “goodness” and as a measure of aptitude and mental acuity. With that in mind the opposite is also true, people perceived as unattractive may be labeled as lazy, unintelligent “bad”, etc. The self-fulfilling prophecy, affects how we see and  present ourselves, and in turn how we allow other people to see us, their feedback fortifies this self image. Social Psychologist Elliot Aranson from Stanford University remarkably states, “ people who feel they are attractive - though not necessarily rated as such - are just as successful as their counterparts who are judged to be good-looking.” (Feng) This means that holding a mental concept of beauty is extremely important! Beauty matters, it’s all in your head and it’s all on your face. Having a healthy relationship with yourself will improve your self image and will manifest outwardly with your relationships and life choices.