About Beauty…

By Oana Lis, Psychologist

Are there beauty standards that guide us or is beautiful *what I like…* and beauty is a purely personal concept!?

I invite you to a foray into this beautiful topic…which has been discussed for hundreds of years and is still relevant…very relevant in today’s society.

*Life is beauty!* (Mother Teresa)

If you look in the Dex…beauty is explained from attributes like cuteness, perfection, majesty, wonder, splendor, to attraction, charm, spell, grace, to work of art, masterpiece, from Venus, Aphrodite to Beautiful, Adonis, Narcissus, from the term aesthetic to divine, fascinating, seductive, from art to coquetry. Beauty can also refer to a deed, a beautiful thing done, a situation that arouses feelings of delight and admiration, or the quality of being beautiful and owning that which is beautiful.

*Anyone who has the ability to see beauty will never grow old.* (Franz Kafka)

So, beauty refers to physical attributes, but also to moral aspects. I have heard people say *A good man is also beautiful. Beauty also comes from within.*

We can say that beauty is an abstract term, which refers to several aspects. Aesthetics, which is a discipline within philosophy, deals with the deeper definition of beauty. And like any emotional appreciation, beauty is often a subjective concept. The appreciation of beauty is influenced by a complex of feelings and appreciations that are generated by the social environment that surrounds us but also by the psyche of each individual.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant says in his work *The Critique of Taste* that *The appreciation of beauty is determined by taste.*

Since ancient times, beauty has been a topic of interest and Nefertiti was considered a model of female beauty. Great attention is paid to the toilet of the body, especially in the royal houses, there were even back then baths with exfoliation and massage with scented oils. Great attention was paid to the skin of the body and make-up, and gold was also used a lot in the beautification process.

*Personal beauty is far greater than any recommendation* (Aristotle)

In Rome, since ancient times, women waxed, contoured their eyes, whitened their teeth and used corsets to stand out with their beauty and femininity.

Male beauty was also taken into account. Ovid, in his work * The Art of Love* recommends for male beautification…tanned skin, clean and cut nails, freshly cut hair, trimmed beard, scented breath and slim body.

During the Renaissance, beauty shifted its focus from the young woman to the mature woman. The beautiful woman had to possess three white things – skin, teeth, hands -, three black things – eyes, eyebrows, eyelashes – and three red things – lips, cheeks and nails -. Not much seems to have changed…

*Love of beauty is TASTE. Creating beauty is ART.* (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

As I stated, aesthetics is a field of philosophy whose main objective is to analyze beauty in a broad sense. The term aesthetics has its origin in the Greek term *aistheton* which means something capable of being perceived through the senses.

Aesthetics is the science that studies the laws and categories of art, considered as the highest form of creation and reception of beauty, refers to artistic creations and all the attributes, criteria and genres of art.

*Aesthetics makes life beautiful and wonderful, fills it with new forms and gives it progress, variety and change.* (Frank Harris)

*The beautiful is the universal object of aesthetics.* (Nicolai Hartmann in Aesthetics)

Tudor Vianu even says that *Artistic beauty is one of the values of human culture, along with economic and theoretical, political, moral and religious value.*

A general theory that has been held vis-a-vis is that beauty is related to the idea of proportion, symmetry and harmony. It applies to physical aesthetic beauty as well as to the arts, plastic and music alike. The beautiful must be understood as a supreme concept of all aesthetic values.

The Mona Lisa painting is the most famous and most valuable painting in the world. It is called the *Eternal Feminine* and represents the ideal of femininity.

Andre Malraux says that this painting combines several genres of beauty to create the representation of the Woman in the eternal feminine, which has been found under different names…Venus, Elena, Isolde, Juliet, etc. and perpetuates itself over the centuries and forms the principle beauty and love. *Mona Lisa was a woman who posed smiling and a painting came out.* (Franco Berdini)

The main idea would be that we need beauty, maybe more than we realize and that beauty is everywhere, if only we can see it and admire it and integrate it into our being.

*Think of all the beautiful things around you and be happy.* (Anne Frank) 

So, mirror, mirror, what does the most handsome man in the country look like!?

The answer is as simple as it is complex. Beauty standards are imposed by society, but they also have a personal touch…with a subjective and personal view and also change from one generation and era to another.

Dostoievski said *Beauty will save the world.*

So let’s turn our gaze to all that is beautiful in us and in the world…

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