Beauty is widely defined as an aesthetic feature of things which makes these things enjoyable to see. These things include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful humans and exquisite works of art. Beauty, along with personal taste and aesthetics, is probably the most important theme of aesthetics, perhaps the most important part of visual philosophy. The word ‘beauty’ itself has multiple meanings, depending on who you ask, and in what context. For some people beauty is a visual word while for others it is a mental word.
Most commonly we think of beauty in terms of physical attributes. We often think of beauty in terms of physical aspects such as skin tone, hair colour and height. Physical beauty is beauty in its most literal sense, the way things look to the eye, and this is not necessarily limited to the human form, animals are also usually seen in this light. Some spiritual traditions consider beauty to be something that transcends the physical realm into the spirit realm.
We do not often think in terms of beauty in purely aesthetic terms. We tend to value beauty in terms of cultural norms, and some cultures value beauty in ways that are contradictory to each other. Our ideas of beauty are heavily influenced by our culture and our personal experiences. If for example we see ugly fat people, or fat children, then that may prompt us to dislike beauty altogether.
There are many examples of beauty. A simple trip to any shopping mall will demonstrate that the beauty of items varies significantly between cultures. Even within a single country, the beauty of things such as cosmetics, clothing and food can differ vastly from one region to another.
We have all sorts of beauty ideals. One of the most common of these ideals is the beauty we see in literature, film and television. While it is impossible to deny the existence of these things, it is also impossible to see them on a daily basis. We tend to compare these things with our own experiences and judge them against each other.
Beauty is not judged by the standards of beauty ideals. These ideals are merely the starting point of beauty. From there, beauty can vary widely. Individual beauty and personality can vary widely while the things that beauty idealizes (like, beauty in terms of physical appearance) tend to remain constant. It is only through our experience of things that we begin to realize how different the world is compared to the ideal beauty.