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Historical Definitions Of Beauty Essay

2623 words - 10 pages

Throughout history, beauty in a person has been defined as someone with the physical appearance that was pleasant to the eye. Although beauty varies among different cultures and areas, people who are younger, with average looking symmetrical features, well proportioned bodies, along with some combination of inner beauty, are considered beautiful. The more average a persons’ features are to society the more attractive that person appears to be. Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, was the first to notice this when he overlaid images of vegetarians and criminals to see if there were typical facial appearances for each. When doing this, he noticed that the overlaid faces were more attractive then the original photos(Beauty, 2009).
Western beliefs of beauty can date back to 570 B.C. when the Pythagorean school saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. People with proportions closer to the golden ratio were deemed more attractive than ones that were further from the ratio. To this day, people with the golden ratio ideal characteristics are known as classical beauties(Beauty, 2009).
Eastern ideals date back to 1 B.C. to Yang Yuhuan, the favored concubine of emperor Xuanzong, who was known for a plump but fit body, and adept at the vigorous whirling dance of the nomads. In contrast, Yan to Zhao Feiyan, wife of emperor Chengdi, was said to be so slim that she could dance on the palm of a hand (Huo, n.d.).
Although ideas of beauty change with the times, there were 10 main aspects for a beautiful women in ancient China: black lustrous hair; hair loosely coiled on the head to give the appearance of height; finely shaped black eyebrows; large expressive eyes; red lips and white teeth (also an indicator of health); graceful fingers and arms; slender waist and fair skin; tiny feet and a light elegant gait; dressing appropriately, and a fragrant body (Huo, n.d.)
Although tiny feet was known to make a women more beautiful back them, this trait wasn’t discontinued until the 19th century. The practice of foot binding was started in 970 A.D., under the rule of Li Yu. His favorite consort Yao-niang preformed a dance on a golden lotus pedestal that had been specially built. Her feet were bound in long strips of silk cloth, much like ballerinas in toe shoes today. The maiden was so graceful and performed so elegantly that other maidens followed suit. Eventually it became a trend for those of upper class, and was done more carefully concentrating on the size and shape of the foot. Inevitably this trend spread to all classes of society. During the Song Dynasty, women lost all their rights as a human. Before this they were well educated, could marry or remarry on their own free will, and had the right to own property. Women became the property themselves and was bought, sold, and even killed (Holman, 2010).
Feet binding took a toll for the worst. The men of the family whether husband, brother, and even husbands used feet...

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