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Beauty Standards in Society

Societal narratives are beliefs that significantly shape our perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours. These narratives frequently become deeply embedded within our cultural fabric, significantly influencing our self-perception and perceptions of others. One notable illustration of such narratives corresponds to beauty standards within society. These standards establish the criteria for attractiveness, frequently perpetuating unrealistic and exclusive ideals. This essay aims to examine the societal narrative surrounding beauty standards critically and demonstrate their effects on individuals and communities through concrete real-world illustrations. Through a comprehensive analysis of this phenomenon, it is possible to acquire a more profound comprehension of the intricacies inherent in societal narratives and their potential ramifications on our overall welfare and self-conception.

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The Concept of human nature in beauty standards:

The concept of "human nature" plays a significant role in shaping societal beauty ideals as it influences our perceptions and assessments of physical attributes and standards of beauty. The concept of human nature pertains to the intrinsic characteristics and inclinations assigned to individuals in their capacity as members of the human species. In the realm of beauty standards, the influence of human nature is significant in shaping our inherent preferences toward specific attributes and ideals associated with beauty. In addition to societal and cultural influences, it is imperative to acknowledge that certain beauty ideals observed in various cultures and historical eras can be attributed to innate elements of human nature.

The study of evolutionary psychology is one facet of human nature that has a role in the establishment of standards of beauty. Some proponents of evolutionary theory hypothesize that particular aesthetic preferences may have emerged over time as a result of the adaptive value that they had for human reproduction and survival (Cutler, V. J. 2021). Natural selection is thought to be responsible for these preferences because it favours features that suggest excellent health, fertility, and genetic fitness. The study of evolutionary psychology is one facet of human nature that has a role in establishing aesthetic standards. Some proponents of evolutionary theory hypothesize that particular aesthetic preferences may have emerged over time as a result of the adaptive value that they had for human reproduction and survival. Natural selection is thought to be responsible for these preferences because it favours features that suggest excellent health, fertility, and genetic fitness.

A prime illustration of evolutionary psychology would be symmetry. Faces and bodies that are symmetrical are frequently seen to be more appealing since it is believed that this trait indicates a lack of developmental stress and excellent genetic health. According to research, people of various cultures find symmetrical elements more appealing than asymmetrical ones (Rhodes, G. 2006).

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Some of the preferences that are at the core of beauty standards have their roots in human nature, such as the emphasis on symmetrical features and the emphasis placed on healthy indications. However, these criteria are highly shaped by cultural and socioeconomic factors, which results in variances in beauty ideals throughout different countries and eras. The interaction of human nature and societal influences can have a substantial impact on an individual's self-perception as well as their mental health. In order to successfully promote diversity, body positivity, and self-acceptance, it is essential to acknowledge the intricacies of human nature and the cultural factors that shape beauty standards. We can create a more compassionate and diverse society by embracing variety and questioning limited conventions. This will allow us to enjoy the innate beauty in all persons.

The concept of free will in beauty standards:

When applied to the context of beauty standards, the idea of free will raises some fascinating concerns regarding the individual agency and autonomy that play a role in establishing an individual's opinion of beauty and in adhering to societal norms. Individuals are said to possess free will when they can make choices and act autonomously without being swayed by factors that are determined from the outside. When applied to beauty standards, it indicates that individuals can create their sense of attractiveness and resist adhering to any notions of beauty that are pushed upon them. However, the concept of absolutely free will regarding beauty standards is questioned when considering the impact of societal conventions, media, and cultural conditioning.

Even though free will refers to the capacity to act following one's preferences and judgments, beauty standards can subtly influence those aspects of an individual's life. People are often led to internalize and seek to fulfil restricted beauty ideals propagated by media portrayals, advertising, and societal conventions. This is because individuals absorb and try to reach these standards. As a direct consequence, free will may be an illusion, given that cultural conditioning and other outside factors considerably alter an individual's beauty experience (Ellman, R. (2007).

The idea of free will in relation to beauty standards is a complicated interplay between the person's actions and the outside world's impacts. Even if people can exercise their free will and establish their appearance standards, their decisions can be influenced by outside factors such as societal pressures and beauty influencers. The example of beauty influencers demonstrates how specific influencers may unintentionally help to maintain traditional beauty standards, restricting the free choice of individuals. However, some influencers use their platforms to question preconceived notions of beauty, broadening the scope of free will by promoting self-acceptance and an acceptance of a variety of standards of beauty. In the end, cultivating a culture of beauty that is more welcoming and inclusive can enable individuals to recover their agency and make choices that are true to themselves and represent their own identity and preferences.

The concept of rules in beauty standards:

The phrase "rules in beauty standards" refers to the norms and criteria established by society, the media, and the beauty business. These norms and guidelines define what is desirable and acceptable regarding appearance. These principles frequently affect individuals' views of beauty and have the potential to produce a standardized and homogenous ideal that might not adequately account for the variety of identities and characteristics that exist.

Promoting the "thin ideal," which highlights a slim body type as the ultimate beauty, is one famous example of the norms embedded within beauty standards. This ideal is frequently pushed forward by the media, the fashion industry, and popular culture in general. The Body Mass Index (BMI), a ratio that expresses an individual's weight in relation to their height, is a specific statistic frequently employed to impose this ideal.

The body mass index (BMI) is commonly used to determine whether or not an individual fits within a "healthy" weight range. The Body Mass Index (BMI), on the other hand, does not consider characteristics such as changes in bone density, muscular mass, or body composition, making it a poor indication of general health. However, it has been used to perpetuate the thin-is-beautiful ideal and stigmatize those whose body mass index (BMI) falls outside the limited range deemed "acceptable." (Singh, D., & Singh, D. 2011).

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We might count ourselves fortunate that there has been a rising push to question the "thin ideal" and the stringent restrictions that govern beauty standards. Activists, influencers, and supporters of body positivity have been advocating for a definition of beauty that includes a broad range of body types. They stress the significance of appreciating a variety of body shapes, as well as self-acceptance, diversity of body types, and bodily diversity. These advocates urge individuals to accept their unique bodies and reject the destructive belief that beauty is restricted to a particular body size or form by opposing the restrictive rules that are a part of beauty standards. In doing so, they challenge the limiting norms that are a part of beauty standards. They spread the idea that there is more than one way to be beautiful and that no one should ever feel pressured to adhere to external standards that are not in line with who they are at their core.

It is possible that rules in beauty standards, such as the "thin ideal" and the usage of BMI to determine attractiveness, can negatively impact one's perception of one's body and one's sense of self-worth. These criteria, upheld by the media and the fashion industry, lead to a restricted and generic ideal of beauty that does not necessarily reflect the variety of human bodies. These restrictions are being challenged, and individuals are being encouraged to embrace the unique beauty as part of a rising movement known as body positivity and advocacy for diversity. We may cultivate a more tolerant and inclusive culture of beauty if we refuse to adhere to rigid beauty standards and instead celebrate the wide range of features that people have. This will allow people to determine their own standards of attractiveness and do it on their own terms.

The concept of truth in beauty standards

The idea of authenticity and straightforwardness in the information spoken about beauty and attractiveness is what is meant by the term "truth in beauty standards." It entails studying how societal conventions, media representations, and the beauty industry develop and promote particular standards as "truths" that individuals are expected to comply with. It also involves challenging the objectivity and universality of beauty ideals. Ultimately, this leads to a more inclusive definition of beauty (Chandrasekhar, S. 2013).

Apps that apply cosmetic filters have become popular recently, particularly on social networking sites. The user's facial characteristics can be changed, their skin can be made smoother, their eyes can be enhanced, and their whole appearance may be modified to comply with traditional beauty standards with these applications. Although it may appear that these filters are innocent, they really pose problems around the idea of truth in beauty standards and its influence on one's own opinion of themselves.

By portraying the altered photographs as realistic depictions of beauty that may be achieved, beauty filter applications provide the impression that they accurately reflect reality. However, they do not accurately portray the world as it is and might cause individuals to have irrational expectations regarding their physical appearance. A sense of discontent with one's natural characteristics may result from propagating an idealized and unrealistic standard of beauty.

The usage of beauty filter applications has spurred debates about the idea of truth in beauty standards and the necessity of challenging unrealistically perfect ideals. Many influential people and activists call for greater openness in the portrayals of the media and the operations of the beauty business. They oppose the idea that there is a single, universally applicable standard of beauty and advocate instead for representations of beauty that are more genuine, varied, and appreciative of natural attributes.

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Celebrating variety and accepting individual variations is essential in promoting authenticity in the beauty standards industry. Beauty should not be restricted to a predetermined group of characteristics or altered using digital filters. We are able to question the idea that there is a single absolute or benchmark of attractiveness by praising the beauty that exists in nature and drawing attention to the wide variety of ways that people might look.

The idea of truth in beauty standards is complicated and involves a lot of different aspects. Apps that provide beauty filters are a prime example of how digital manipulation may give the impression that something is true, prompting users to doubt their personal looks and sense of value. It is imperative that these unattainable beauty standards be questioned and a genuine portrayal of beauty be promoted. We may cultivate a more inclusive and tolerant culture of beauty by recognizing varied forms of beauty and rejecting standards designed to fit everyone. This will enable individuals to appreciate the distinctive qualities that make them beautiful and to determine their own sense of beauty on their own terms.

Social narratives, such as standards of beauty, have a significant impact on both our perceptions and our conduct. Although human nature does play a role in some fundamental aesthetic preferences, societal forces are ultimately responsible for shaping these standards. Even while people have free will, the influences of society might make it difficult for them to make beautiful choices. The rules that govern beauty standards, such as the "thin ideal," continue to foster unrealistic and exclusive ideals. Inclusivity may be fostered via practices such as welcoming variety and questioning established norms. As beauty filter applications alter perceptions, truth in beauty standards calls into doubt the validity of authenticity. Self-acceptance and diversity may be fostered by promoting authentic images of beauty. When we have a solid grasp of these ideas, we can reimagine what constitutes beautiful according to our standards while celebrating diversity and uniqueness.

The ability to perceive the complex relationship between human nature, cultural influences, individual agency, and authenticity is afforded to us when we investigate and gain an awareness of these principles about beauty standards. We can build a beauty culture that is more compassionate, varied, and inclusive by questioning ideas of beauty that are unrealistic, accepting variety, and encouraging self-acceptance. This culture will appreciate the unique beauty that is present in each and every individual. This critical analysis of social narratives in beauty standards may lead to a more thorough knowledge of their consequences on individuals and communities. As a result, we will be able to redefine beauty on our own terms and appreciate the beauty that exists in variety.

Chandrasekhar, S. (2013). Truth and beauty: Aesthetics and motivations in science. University of Chicago Press.

Cutler, V. J. (2021). The Science and Psychology of Beauty. Essential Psychiatry for the Aesthetic Practitioner, 22-33.

Ellman, R. (2007). The Philosophic Principles of Rational Being: Analysis and Understanding of Reality, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Virtue, Beauty, Happiness, Love, Human Nature, Society, Government, Education, Determinism, Free Will, and Death. Origin Foundation Incorporated.

Singh, D., & Singh, D. (2011). Shape and significance of feminine beauty: An evolutionary perspective. Sex roles, 64, 723-731.

Rhodes, G. (2006). The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Annu. Rev. Psychol., 57, 199-226.

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