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So, what is beauty in the first place? And who determined this? Is it really in the eye of the beholder? There are many ways we have come to explain and answer these questions, whether through social science, numbers, or evolution: the answers always being proven distorted. Most taken to blaming our inability to see ourselves as beautiful on our society, and psychologists finding the answer within biology. From a Standard Social Science Model, everything is acquired from our socialization and observations of the world, and we are born with blank minds. If this hypothesis were to be true, then the idea that, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” could be plausible, however multiple studies on the habits of infants and beauty ideals in other cultures suggest otherwise (Miller and Kanazawa, 64). Through increasing studies of evolutionary psychology it is being found that beauty standards are universal or innate. Innate means inherent rather than learned through experience. In a recent study with newborns (less than one week old), a significant preference was demonstrated for faces that adults deem as attractive (Miller and Kanazawa, 65). Another study shows that year old infants play with facially attractive dolls significantly longer, the extremely young age thus eliminating the social science’s plausibility (Miller and Kanazawa, 65). Various studies have shown that across all cultures there is a vast agreement in the judgment of beauty (Miller and Kanazawa, 65). Not only have surveys proven that beauty is innate, but numbers have proven this as well. We find that most generally considered attractive people across cultures have proportional faces that follow the "Golden Ratio" (Φ = 1.618033…) (Bourne). There is a mask of the human face that is based on the Golden Ratio, where the proportions of the length of the nose and position of the eyes for example, all basically fit the ratio. This mask can be put over the face of a person who is generally considered attractive and it will fit exceedingly well (Bourne). There are also general characteristics that are considered beautiful across cultures, such as long hair, a symmetrical face, light eyes, large eyes, full lips, and high cheekbones (Feng). We have found that there are multiple reasons why humans are attracted to such features and these reasons go back to ancestral environments. Humans are innately attracted to those with symmetrical features, and it is shown that developmentally and genetically healthy individuals have greater symmetry in their bodily features as well as facial features (Rhodes). Exposure to toxins and pathogens during development causes genetic disruptions and mutations thus decreasing bilateral symmetry, which places an importance on physical attraction when selecting a mate (Miller and Kanazawa, 66). Even hair color lets us know something about a person; for example, blonde hair tends to change dramatically with age, getting darker as a person ages. When a male prefers to mate with women who have blonde hair, he is unconsciously trying to mate with younger females, who tend to have higher fertility. Because age was hard to determine in ancestral times- before the calendar- hair color could be important in deciphering the reproductive value of a female (Miller and Kanazawa, 59). Essentially, beauty is a “health certification” (Miller and Kanazawa, 67). Beautiful people have a higher mate quality and features like hair are a way of telling us how healthy they are. According to Evolutionary Psychology, beauty has become extremely important in the development of our society and in the determination of our evolutionary path.
Contributed by Jaclyn Rachelle
Evolutionary psychology is the study of a collection of components called "evolved psychological mechanisms" or "psychological adaptations"- human nature being the sum of such evolved psychological mechanisms; human evolution as a result of natural selection and reproductive success .
Contributed by Jaclyn Rachelle