“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it”. — Confucius
Another oft heard of phrase connects beauty and the act of appreciation; “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It is never easy to define beauty, or even claim that one has beheld ideal beauty; that one true encapsulation of ethereal perfection. As the earlier words of wisdom suggest, the concept of beauty, and the appreciation of beauty are extremely subjective. What we do have is societal convention, and don’t we all try to fall in line?
It seems that as we progress, and become better at things such as aging research or cosmetic reconstruction, the definition of beauty changes dimension. What strikes us or our peers as beautiful? Does the list of questions in the indent sound familiar?
“Beauty is being skinny. Beauty means having flawless skin. Beauty is being tall. Beauty means having an angled jaw. Beauty means having a perfectly proportioned face. Beauty means having luscious lips. Beauty is what our friends think is beautiful. Beauty is self confidence.”
Can we ever describe beauty and do we measure up? What of beauty’s role in attracting the opposite sex? Science Centre Singapore’s upcoming exhibition entitled Uniquely You aims to encourage thought and conversation on this subject. We ask if beauty is a measure of fertility, or a remnant of our evolutionary past which guides us toward finding the fittest mate. We ask if facial symmetry has anything to do with attractiveness, or, if the choice of a mate is heavily influenced by the popularity of a candidate amongst our peers. We ask if science should be applied to the task of measuring beauty. Is the Golden Ratio a prescriptive way for such measurement?
Personally, I feel after having researched this topic for a while, that on the topic of beauty we will still fall prey to our own bias. Whilst societal conventions might dictate what is beautiful , there is no substitute for confidence and the beauty of character. So it is not wrong to try to fit in, but we should not need to go to the extremes to satisfy the need to belong to a prescriptive ideal. Like Confucius, I do believe that beauty resides in everyone and everything, it just boils down to how to savour such beauty than how to decide what is more or most beautiful.