What Is Beauty? Essay

1426 words - 6 pages

What is beauty? People have always attempted to find, create, and pursue it. A quick checkout at the grocery store will reveal a plethora of magazines devoted purely to what they call beauty and the proper pursuit of it. Most have an idea of what they might personally define as beauty, but not as a general, sweeping definition. That which one might label ugly another might call absolutely stunning. Some find beauty in cats, others in dogs, just as some favor early morning mountain ranges over a sun setting over the plains. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is the favorite adage quoted by many to explain for this discrepancy, but what does that quickly-spat out phrase even mean? In reality, while the adage is partially true, beauty is not relative or subject to our human whim - it is an ideal created and truly attained only by God, which as His children we are to reflect in love.
With a brief analysis, the adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” perfectly explains and melds into our personal selves, our culture, and the world today. What do people mean when they state this adage? To understand it, we must take a closer look at the three crucial words in the sentence – beauty, eye, and beholder. First, what is beauty? According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, “beauty is the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit” (1). Pleasure is the key word in that definition, implying that the beauty in something is relative to one’s personal pleasure in it. The next word is “eye”, not meaning the literal eye, but referencing the perception, method and personal mindset through which the beauty is viewed. Finally, the use of “beholder” emphasizes how beauty depends on the opinion of the sole entity observing it, stressing yet again the apparent personality and individuality necessary judge beauty for oneself. 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...

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