s i t a h w BEAUTY 2.6
rigins of an article studying the o se finds to what we and the univer be pleasing to the eye
beau - ty
n. pl. beau路ties
1. The quality that gives pleasure to the mind or senses and is associated with such properties as harmony of form or color, excellence of artistry, truthfulness, and originality.
Sheli Jeffry is searching for beauty. As a scout for Ford, one of the world’s top model agencies, Jeffry scans up to 200 young women every Thursday afternoon. Inside agency headquarters in New York, exquisite faces stare down from the covers of Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar. Outside, young hopefuls wait for their big chance.
milk shakes they wanted and didn’t gain an ounce. Basically, they’re hangers for clothes.”
What is beauty? We grope around the edges of the question as if trying to get a toe-hold on a cloud. Define beauty? One may as well dissect a soap bubble. We know it when we see it—or so we think. Philosophers frame it as a moral equation. What is beautiful is good, said Plato. Poets reach for the lofty. “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” wrote John Keats, although Anatole France thought beauty “more profound than truth itself.”
Jeffry is looking for height: at least five feet nine (1.8 meters). She’s looking for youth: 13 to 19 years old. She’s looking for the right body type. What is the right body type?
Science examines beauty and pronounces it a strategy. “Beauty is health,” a psychologist tells me. “It’s a billboard saying ‘I’m healthy and fertile. I can pass on your
“Thin,” she says. “You know, the skinny girls in school who ate all the cheeseburgers and
what is beauty?
as pretty does.
At its best, beauty celebrates. From the Txikão warrior in Brazil painted in jaguar-like spots to Madonna in her metal bra, humanity revels in the chance to shed its everyday skin and masquerade as a more powerful, romantic, or sexy being.
In an era of feminist and politically correct values, not to mention the closely held belief that all men and women are created equal, the fact that all men and women are not—and that some are more beautiful than others—disturbs, confuses, even angers. For better or worse, beauty matters. How much it matters can test our values. With luck, the more we live and embrace the wide sweep of the world, the more generous our definition becomes.
At its worst, beauty discriminates. Studies suggest attractive people make more money, get called on more often in class, receive lighter court sentences, and are perceived as friendlier. We do judge a book by its cover.
I am standing behind a one-way mirror watching a six-month-old baby make a choice. The baby is shown a series of photographs of faces that have been rated for attractiveness by a panel of college students. A slide is flashed; a clock ticks as the baby stares at
We soothe ourselves with clichés. It’s only skin-deep, we cluck. It’s only in the eye of the beholder. Pretty is
what is beauty?
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the picture. The baby looks away; the clock stops. Then it’s on to the next slide.
question of harmony and the placement of features. The pictures of the young girl with wide-set eyes and a small nose is easier on the eye that the one of the young girl with close-set eyes and a broad nose. Extremes are offputting and generally not attractive, Langlois says.
After more than a decade of studies like these, Judith Langlois, professor of psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, is convinced that this baby, like others she has tested, will spend more time looking at the attractive faces than the unattractive ones.
The idea that even babies can judge appearance makes perfect sense to Don Symons, an anthropologist at the University of California at Santa Barbara.
What’s an attractive face? It’s a symmetrical face. Most important, it’s an averaged face, says Langlois. Averaged, that is, in terms of position and size of all the facial features. As the slides flash in front of the baby, I see what she means. Some faces are more pleasing to look at than others. It’s a
“Beauty is not whimsical. Beauty has meaning. Beauty is functional,” he says. Beauty, his argument goes, is not so much in the eye as in the brain circuitry of the beholder.
what is beauty?
N A M
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SHOULDER TO WAIST RATIO: 1.6 HEIGHT: 1.1 TIMES TALLER THAN HER
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what is beauty?
Y T U A E B N? SEX U O I A T L C E S L E E L S E C L A T R ION? U T A N VS THE E X A D N A H N A I L U E H AC OLD S
R A E Y 0 .2 500.00
“THE TOOL” USED BY HOMO ERECTUS
EARL I EVER EST FOR DISC M OF OVER ART ED
dennis dutton tries to find the origins of and experience of beauty
In studies by psychologists such as Victor Johnston at New Mexico State University and David Perrett at St. Andrews University in Scotland, men consistently showed a preference for women with larger eyes, fuller lips, and a smaller nose and chin. Studies by psychologist Devendra Singh at the University of Texas show a preference for the classic hourglassshaped body with a waist-hip ratio of seven to ten.
by estrogen, reach their fullness at 14 to 16 when women enter the fertile stage of their life. With menopause and the loss of fertility, lips lose their fullness. Likewise lesions or sores on the skin signal the presence of infectious disease or parasites. Clear, smooth skin speaks of youth and good health. In the scenario envisioned by Symons and other evolutionary scientists, the mind unconsciously tells men that full lips and clear skin equal health, fertility, and genetic soundness. It’s an instinct honed over a hundred thousand years of selection, Symons believes. Because we are mortgaged to our evolutionary history, the instinct persists.
“That men prefer women with smooth skin, big eyes, curvaceous bodies, and full lips is anything but random,” Symons insists. All these traits are reliable cues to youth, good health, and fertility. Take lips, which, plumped up
Newman, Cathy. “Enigma of Beauty.” National Geographic 1-4. Web. 4 May 2011. <http://science. nationalgeographic.com/science/health-and-humanbody/human-body/enigma-beauty.html#page=4>. what is beauty?
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