What Makes Something Beautiful?
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What Makes Something Beautiful?

Is there a concrete way to measure beauty?

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What Makes Something Beautiful?
women's health magazine

The idea of beauty, and what is beautiful and what isn’t, seems to be one of those questions that doesn’t have an answer, or at the very least, not one that everyone can agree with. That may be because unlike certain characteristics, such as height, weight, or color, there is no objective way to measure a “quantity” of beauty. Instead, what it comes down to is personal opinion from others as to whether or not someone, or something, is beautiful. But even then, there is no general consensus on what characteristics constitute a “beautiful” person or object, because opinions generally vary depending on where you go, and everybody will have their own unique preferences. Attempting to concretely define “beauty” requires delving into the various questions that arise when trying to sort out exactly who or what should fall into the realm of the "beautiful".

The first issue that arises when attempting to discern beauty is the conflicting nature of physical beauty as opposed inner beauty. There is a saying that “beauty is only skin deep,” but certainly one’s inner qualities must have some influence on that person’s measure of beauty. Is a person who has physically “beautiful” qualities, but a terrible personality, considered holistically beautiful? If not, are they then just “half beautiful?” And in the reverse situation, if the way someone looks isn’t very appealing to your taste, yet you know how amazing of a person they really are, are they just “really nice,” or can they too be considered beautiful? In a way, it really depends on how much the individual assessing that person’s beauty values their specific inner and outer qualities, which in itself can be affected by a variety of factors or bias. For instance, if a man would be considered all around beautiful, both inside and out, but has a distinct resemblance to someone that a person has an intense hatred for, chances are that particular person would be hard pressed to find that man to be beautiful. No matter how widely accepted their attractiveness is, an individual’s level beauty is at the mercy of whatever preferences the one judging them holds.

But even beyond the realm of physical and inner beauty is the argument over whether or not beauty is limited to that which we can observe with our eyes. Though sight may be most widely associated with beauty, surely it couldn’t be the only one of five senses to be able to experience it. Plenty of people would be willing to describe a piece of music, or perhaps someone’s voice, as beautiful. And, unlike visual beauty, it is much easier to distinguish the good sounds from the bad, as there are certain pitches or tones that are universally regarded as unpleasant, and vice versa. But what about things that can’t be seen or heard? More abstract ideas, such as feelings, have been described as beautiful in the past. Spending time with someone you care about or just enjoy being around may produce a feeling inside that, although difficult to explain, can only be described as beautiful. Perhaps upon a first impression, one may not consider someone else to be particularly beautiful, but upon spending enough time with them, discovers how wonderful they really are through the beautiful feeling they get every time they’re with them. And what about actions? A man proposing to his significant other may or may not be visually appealing, but the atmosphere it creates could easily be described by those witnessing it as beautiful. President Obama giving a heartfelt speech on the tragedies surrounding gun control evokes emotion and commands respect because it is delivered beautifully.

So where does one go from here? The closest “definition” that one could come up with for beauty would have to encompass a broad spectrum of ideas and topics. Though objective qualifications of beauty are heard to come by, there is one general aspect that all things considered beautiful share: they all make us feel good inside. As simple as it may sound, this claim is undeniable. Think about what influence beauty has on you upon experiencing it. Whether it be a person, sound, or feeling, it always leaves you wanting a bit more, yet strangely content with the amount you have just witnessed. True beauty reminds you of just how amazing something can be, a sentiment that is often forgotten between glimpses of its magnificence. In a less philosophical sense, one could be left with this: Beauty is the sense created by a person, object, feeling, action, or anything else that leaves one dumbstruck at the idea that something could be so inherently amazing.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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