Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For every beauty, there is an eye somewhere to see it...

What is beauty? Is it a glowing smile? A couture gown? A great haircut? An Italian sunset?
According to definition, it's the qualities that give pleasure to the senses. So in fact, all of these examples, and many more, could be true. Because beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Modern society, media in particular, has an obsession with telling the public (especially women) what is and isn't beautiful: Angelina Jolie is thin and has big lips, therefore she is beautiful. Jennifer Love Hewitt wore a too-small bathing suit (we've all been there), and Jessica Simpson is famous for fluctuating weight, therefore they deserve to be the subjects of ridicule. It's crazy how far we, as a society, have come in terms of the Obsession With Beauty (an obsession which I, myself, have succumbed to on more than one occasion I'll admit). But no matter how intense this Obsession becomes, it's crucial to acknowledge that we are living in a world filled with more than 6 billion inhabitants, and notions of beauty vary greatly not only from person to person, but from culture to culture, also.

Marilyn Monroe

Angelina Jolie
photographed by Steven Klein

I'd like to draw your attention to a post written by little blogger by the name of Drea Morsby a few weeks ago on this same subject. Drea says her interest on this subject was piqued while at TAFE one unassuming day...
A Tongan employee stopped me during my lunch break to tell me that I have a wonderful figure that would be highly revered back in her country. She specifically noted my 'big legs and pretty face' and indicated at my shapely hips with a hand gesture. It really made my day to hear that somewhere, in some other country I would be considered perfect given that my shapely legs and short stature have been subject to the odd comment of ridicule in their time here in the western world.
Drea then goes on to highlight the differences in the notions of beauty within different cultures and eras, such as...
  • In traditional African tribes, pendulous breasts were considered the most attractive and the women would bind their breasts down flat to promote this look.
  • Even back here in the West, in the 1920's the fashion for women was to bind their breasts flat against their chest.
  • Small wide set breasts were, also, considered perfection in the middle ages.
  • Nowadays large, rounded, close set (cleavage, baby) breasts are considered the most attractive.
  • In countries where HIV is a problem, the men find curvier women more attractive, as being skinny is associated with having HIV.
  • Until about a hundred years ago, women in china had to bind their feet in order to be considered eligible for marriage. Bound feet were considered as 'dainty' and attractive because they rendered the woman vulnerable.
  • Womanly curves were considered most desirable in the 1950's. Then Twiggy came along in the 60's with her up and down figure thus sparking the 'new look', and became the first international super model. Twiggy had said that she 'desperately wanted curves' and didn't like the way she looked. She thought everyone had 'gone stark raving mad!'
  • Asian cultures consider a creased eyelid to be very attractive and many undergo plastic surgery to alter their eyelids with an epicanthic fold (skin fold of the upper eyelid, from the nasal bone to the inferior side of the eyebrow, covering the inner corner of the eye).
  • In Ye Olde times, it was more attractive to be curvy and pale as that indicated you were rich enough to eat well and spend your days leisurely inside. Their superficial veins appeared blue through their pale skin and thus explains the term 'blue blood' for nobility. Some women even went so far as to draw blue veins on their skin to attain this exclusive, noble look. Poor people weren't as well fed and had to work in the fields all day thus they were slender and tanned.
  • The industrial revolution brought all the 'poor' workers inside into factories and thus it became fashionable to be tanned because that indicated you had enough time and money to partake in leisurely activities outside in the sun.

Wow! Talk about variety. And so we come to the confirmation that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder (or at least, the culture of the beholder). And we realise, as demonstrated by the desirable flat breasts of the 1920s in comparison to the glorification of large breasts nowadays, what is popularly considered to be 'beautiful' changes over time, anyway. Ah, it's a fickle society we live. But this is good, because it means everybody gets their turn to be acknowledged for their beauty.

Audrey Hepburn
photographed by Mark Shaw

And so I'll leave you with a little poem by Sam Levenson that happened to be one of Audrey Hepburn's favourites...
For attractive lips,
speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes,
seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure,
share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair,
let a child run his or her fingers through it once day.

For poise,
walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed;
Never throw out anybody.

if you ever need a helping hand,
you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older,
you will discover,
that you have two hands,
one for helping yourself,
the other for helping others,

The beauty of a woman,
is not in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries,
or the way she combs her hair,

The beauty of a woman
must be seen from in her eyes,
because that is the doorway to her heart,
the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman
is not in a facial mole,
but true beauty in a woman,
is reflected in her soul.

It is the caring that she lovingly gives,
the passion that she shows,
And the beauty of a woman,
with passing years only grows.

Enlighten me, readers. What do you find beautiful?

photographed by Thom Kerr


[photos courtesy of pixdaus.com, wmagazine.com, cinematicpassions.wordpress.com and thomkerr.com]


nookie said...

great post dear...
what do I find beautiful?the thing is,I don't have a "pattern"...everyone is beautiful in their own way:)

beckyxoxo said...

This is interesting . I agree , beauty is according to the eye of the beholder . Haha . Nice post . Love it ! Thanks for sharing and hope you have a nice day ! xoxox

Little Bear Stories said...

Really uplifting post, something I have been thinking about a lot recently too.
You have made me feel prettier to start my day with, thank you!
I find confidence, creativity, a big laugh and kindness beautiful.

Death Wears Diamond Jewellery said...

awesome post. i wrote an article on this recently, its all so true. i find pale skin beautiful and tanned skin not so much. rejecting cultural norms! hehehe

knk said...

wow romany its such a beautiful poem i love it

some where it touch my heart,

meg said...

Really loved the post. So informative..in all the right ways.

Inspiration in Italy said...

This is beautiful, I love your way of thinking and how you shed light to all of us readers about many things we might not otherwise think about. I so agree with you that beauty, especially with women, has become an object of obsession and even a objectification of women to have such physical beauty. I appreciate your information on the variety and definitely helps us all realize that there is no ONE single standard of beauty. Yet I think we are ALL to blame for wanting beauty, almost can't help it with society right?

Great post, really got me to think and I love that poem by Sam Levenson! Hope you are having a good week! :)


kirstyb said...

beautiful xoxox

SabinePsynopsis said...

Such an interesting subject! I guess health always looks beautiful. And a person who embraces life also excudes beauty. And movements are important, too!

Zanah said...

I knew the ones about China & Asia but did not realize the ones from Africa, very interesting ! The eyelids thing has been going on for sometime now and I've never felt mine needed correcting. It's fascinating how cultures have different views and standards of beauty. Great post !!

Thx for your visit as always :) Mon Mode Blog

sunaina said...

What a great post, I love everything you write, you're so good! Interesting facts:)

What do I find beautiful..
I know a big girl with obesity but she's damn gorgeous so beauty is definitely not synonymous to thin for me. But I also know a very very thin girl who is also really pretty. I guess it's
their charisma and if people are beautiful on the inside it will show on the outside, no matter how they look!

I'm so happy with those pink shoes, they don't hurt my feet at all and they're cute indeed, thank you for the sweet comment:)

I'd love to see your Claudia Cardinale post, couldn't be that bad! Show your next attempt, I'm sure it'll be great!

xo Sunaina

coolboy said...

beautiful poems
wat a great post it is i love t

factsss said...

very cool lovely poems

Glam Girl said...

Marylin Monroe & Audrey Hepburn are my favorite from that period! Love this post!


Juliet said...

I loved this post! That gives pleasure to senses ->genius! I find beautiful confidence, a true smile, all my friends and loved ones, memories, plants and flowers and when it comes to body issues I must admit my mind has been brainwashed, though I think smaller breasts look more beautiful. The one thing I wish I would find as beautiful is me.

juliet xxx

Clare said...

Marilyn Monroe is so, so beautiful. I want to be her when I grow up...

Such an interesting post!

tweet tweet tweet


LyddieGal said...

Great post - we are certainly confused about what beauty is, but I think the most beauty is in acceptance, that we shouldn't have to change to be beautiful.

Chic on the Cheap

Cafe Fashionista said...

I find this post beautiful. Though, to me, fields of flowers are so beautiful. And butterfly kisses. And afternoons spent drinking lemonade. Simple luxuries, I suppose! :)

emily viveur said...

love this post, it was fascinating seeing the wide variations of what people consider and considered beautiful. i believe beauty is in the confidence that derives from being comfortable with who you are.


Lucy Laucht said...

Oh I love that poem! Thanks for sharing

Lucy Laucht: Daily style & inspiration

Audrey Allure said...

Absolutely love this post. What I find beautiful? -- the fact that various people find different types of things beautiful!

I adore Audrey Hepburn & that poem has become one of my favorites as well!

Savvy Gal said...

I love this post. Beauty is different according to diff individuals. Surface beauty is attractive upon first meeting but it is inner beauty that will sustain in the long run.

Vintage Obsession said...

Weird no the perception of beauty ?? In mangolia its considered to be beaautiful depending on how flat your features are including the face for me audrey is personification of beauty .You should watch her in wait untill dark ,OMG she's beautifull :)

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

It's amazing how beauty has changed over the years... it's so subjective. Anything that makes me smile is beautiful! all shapes, colors, sizes, etc.

A dreamer said...

lovely post. beauty is completely subjective but at the same time heavily influenced by the way the times/society you live in, so I guess in some cases it's not completely subjective...hah. oh no, i just confused myself.

Carolina said...

So happy I came across this post.

Personally, I value inner qualities as beautiful. Honesty, kindness, being responsible, etc. But even taking into account physical features, I have yet to meet someone that I couldn't notice something about them I found beautiful.