Western beauty standards celebrate the beauty of white people. The term “white beauty” came about thanks to early racial theorists. Class also plays a role in determining which people society views as beautiful. This means that a person who possesses fair skin, bouncy hair and a slim figure will be considered beautiful. But who determines what is beautiful? Thousands of dollars are spent on cosmetic surgery, braces, and facials, and these decisions are not always made based on aesthetics.
One of the most influential figures in modern society, Alan Moore, says that beauty flows from purpose. One example of a company with a clear sense of purpose is Patagonia. The brand attracts creative people and fosters a positive workplace culture. Employees who feel that their work contributes to a company’s purpose are more engaged, more productive and more satisfied. That culture is one of the keys to attracting and keeping talented people.
The question arises whether beauty is universal. In fact, the experiences of beauty are shared across cultures. The beauty of Michelangelo’s David or a Van Gogh self-portrait is aesthetically beautiful to both the artist and the viewer. No matter what cultural background an observer has, beauty is a universal experience. In other words, we all experience beauty the same way. But does this universal beauty transcend cultures? And do we know what makes something beautiful?
The modern world has also embraced the concept of beauty. The post-war optimism of the 1950s produced celebrities such as Debbie Reynolds and Doris Day. The counterculture embraced androgynous looks. A disenchanted youth created the punk look, which recalls the German cabarets of the 1930s. This look, however, is no longer the norm today. In fact, it has become a minority standard. Today, beauty is about good health and a positive mental state.
In contrast, the classical conception of beauty stresses the relationship between the parts of a beautiful object and pleasure. This view highlights the connection between pleasure and beauty, arguing that beauty is a result of the harmony between the parts of an object. Hedonist conceptions define beauty in terms of the pleasure it induces, whereas classical conceptions view it as a result of the object’s functionality and value. They also highlight the role of color in determining beauty.
The Romans adopted many of the practices of the Greeks, including the application of makeup. Ovid, a Roman poet, compiled the first beauty manual. This manual was the first written example of the science of makeup. Upper class women followed the recommendations of Ovid, and they would tint their gray hair, smear wax on wrinkled skin, and replace their eyebrows with fur. In some cases, women went as far as removing their eyebrows to enhance their beauty.
In the twentieth century, beauty lost its prominence as the dominant goal of the arts. It was tainted by trivialization and political associations. In addition to this, it became a subject of political and economic disgrace. Thus, the rebirth of beauty as a result of the industrial revolution and political era has made its meaning less clear. The idea that beauty is purely aesthetic and objective has become a controversial concept.