We often use the word beauty in different ways. We can speak about beauty in terms of how it makes an object pleasing to the eye or how it makes something real and genuine. It is often associated with the physical aspects of beauty such as skin tones, hair styles, bodily structures, facial features and proportions. Beauty, with art and aesthetics, is also the primary topic of aesthetics, another of the major branches of contemporary philosophy. In fact, aesthetics is about how we use and evaluate beauty in the world as well as within an individual’s self-image and/or definition of beauty.
The word beauty itself may be related to the word mythology. For instance, the epics of Homer place beauty in many forms such as in ships, animals and the immortal hero, Odysseus. In the modern era, beauty has become associated with a particular culture. For instance, in twentieth century America beauty is associated with the cultural ideals of beauty and youth. Modernists and other critics would say that beauty is not merely physical, but includes a social value as well.
According to some philosophers, beauty criteria are not objective, but dependent on the observer. Meaning, for instance, that what makes a certain thing beautiful to you may not be beauty to someone else, which is contradictory to beauty philosophy. Others believe that beauty criteria are independent of personal likes and preferences.
Defining beauty may be easy for those who have a scientific approach to understanding the beauty, but much more difficult for those who are seeking beauty according to the affect it has on human emotions and psychology. The psychologist Sigmund Freud developed the theory of “obsessive love” to explain why some things are beautiful to us while others are not. The beauty criteria he developed are based on the affect a thing has on the individual. Beauty standards may be based on the physical, mental, or spiritual aspects of an object. For example, symmetry, straight lines, and proportion are beauty criteria according to some philosophers.
Most beauty products in the market today actually do follow one or more of Freud’s definitions of beauty. Thus, choosing beauty products can be tricky. What is beauty then? According to some philosophers, beauty is defined as the result of a psychological function, such as reproductive function in humans. Others believe that beauty is defined as something that we find inherently appealing in the object or situation. For instance, symmetry may be the basis for beauty in paintings, whereas symmetry in the human form is considered unattractive by some people.
There are many beauty products that fall under the umbrella of beauty philosophy, such as foundation creams, moisturizers, and eye shadows. However, it is important to note that beauty products should not be the basis for defining beauty, as the definition is subjective according to each person. It is best to understand the beauty in its true sense, which is something that only you can define, for you alone. Whichever definition you choose for yourself, remember that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.