The Attainment Of Beauty & Attractiveness Across Cultures

2486 words - 10 pages

The Attainment of Beauty & Attractiveness across Cultures
What is beauty? Beauty is defined as “the quality of being physically attractive or the qualities in a person or a thing that give pleasure to the senses or the mind” (Merriam-Webster dictionary, 2014, para. 1). Heine (2012) has found that beauty and attractiveness can vary across cultures. Although, there are specific features of a person that seem to be considered as beautiful and attractive across all culture spectrums. These features are: complexion, bilateral symmetry, average sized facial features, and biracial faces. However, weight in regards to attractiveness and beauty varies drastically across cultures. Through this ...view middle of the document...

How might those cultures define beauty? Anthony, Coren, and Frank (2007) examined the preferences for specific symmetry in human faces in the UK and the Hadza, which is an isolated group of hunter-gatherers. There is an agreement that within and between cultures there are a broad-spectrum judgments of facial attractiveness. However, there are not studies of the preferences of hunter-gatherers. Thus, Anthony et al. (2007) set out to examine if there are any preferences, they examined preferences for facial symmetry in both the UK and the Hadza; a hunter-gatherer society of Tanzania. The results revealed that symmetry was more attractive over asymmetry, and was most prominently preferred by the Hadza than in the UK. Anthony et al. (2007) presumed that a change in ecological conditions may play a role in producing this difference. Symmetry is believed to specify genetic excellence, which may be most important to individuals among the Hadza since there are greater mortality rates. The Hadza men, known as the “good hunters”, placed a high value on the symmetry of female faces, most likely because it signifies superior genetics. Therefore, the results propose that high valued Hadza men are more selective in their choice of their mate’s faces. Also, pregnant or nursing Hadza women tend to have an increase in preferences for symmetry in men's faces, this may occur because the increased risk on the fetus and infant. Overall, these results suggest that symmetry is an evolutionarily significant trait and that the difference in symmetry inclination appears intentional, both amongst cultures and within the individuals of a particular culture.
Additionally, symmetry tends to be perceived as attractive cross-culturally and even among other species. Feng (2002) states that this preference for symmetry is not only common in human cultures, but is also seen in many different animals communities as well. For example, Feng (2002) explains how female swallows select males with longer and more symmetric tails, and female zebra finches favor males with leg bands that are symmetrical in color. The reasoning for symmetry preference in both humans and animals is that symmetry equals a higher-mate value, which is associated with a robust immune system. This indicates that beauty is suggestive of healthier genes, and increases the likelihood that the offspring will thrive. Feng (2002) also mentioned a study that was conducted at the University of Louisville, which revealed that Asians, Hispanics, and Caucasians who were from 13 different countries, when shown pictures of various individuals, all found the faces of those with the most symmetry the most attractive. Hence, cross-culturally what is the most beautiful, is the most symmetrical.
The cause of physical attraction and beauty ideals could also be a result of natural selection. Gangestad and Scheyd (2005) explain how this is a valid cause because physical attraction reactions are related to both sexuality and...

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