What Is Beauty?

Beauty has been the subject of many songs, stories and wars. There is no perfect answer to the question "what is beauty?". Some say beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Discussions on what or who looks more beautiful have often resulted in adding more paper to the library while the question still remains unanswered.

Scientific research has a very interesting take on the topic. Although it is very difficult to determine who looks more beautiful to a specific person. It is relatively easy to understand what sets apart beautiful from the ordinary.

The following are a few broad perspectives that may influence our perception of beauty with regard to the human form. Remember, the object, person or painting is not inherently beautiful or ugly it is how we perceive things that make them seem extraordinary.

Symmetry

The two halves of our body are not identical. Yet they are very similar. So similar in fact that if the similarity is less than 97% it is immediately noticeable. The observer may not be able to pin point the source of the disharmony but this difference is enough to separate beautiful from ordinary. On the other hand if the two halves are identical to one another the image starts to feel artificial, yet again the source of disharmony may not be easily identifiable. A well balanced left and right halves of our body is an absolute essential for beauty. The similarity should neither be less than 95%-97% nor does it need to be identical.

Left halves combined                           Original                           Right halves combined.
See how the combined images look so artificial ! 

Harmony

Scars and blemishes cause discontinuity in the natural curve or smoothness. This discontinuity causes unattractiveness. Smooth, evenly textured skin with even distributions of different skin-tones looks beautiful rather than a specific color of the skin.

Average

Of all the faces a person sees in his life, his/her brain forms an average. A new face will then be compared to this average and evaluated as beautiful or not. This is also the basis of ethnic variation in the definition of beauty. Different people from different ethnic backgrounds find faces with their ethnic traits as more beautiful.

Aging

All those traits/changes in facial morphology which signify increased age result in less attractiveness. While all those features which make a person look young and full of life enhance beauty. But why?

A digital photograph has no meaning for a computer as it is a machine devoid emotions while the same image may have a profound impact on us. We as scientists are no where close to decoding beauty but there seems to be a direct survival advantage to preferring a mate who is young and fertile hence we have evolved in a way that all bodily features that convey youth appear more beautiful to us.

Recent years have seen much advance in the field of surgery and now we have technical skills and knowledge to limit and sometimes revert the superficial effects of aging. We can get rid of asymmetries and blemishes, but this only masks the changes by rearranging the tissues of body to appear young. These do not actually stop the aging process.

Follow these links for a small journey of understanding the science of beauty. Know more about Hair, Face Aesthetics, Body Contouring and Breast