Does culture dictate what is considered desirable?

“Everything is beautiful but not everyone sees it.” This quote encapsulates how beauty is dependant on perspective and the lens through which you view it. Surely different cultures must have different lenses and filters through which they view things. So do these filters also influence something as subjective as beauty?

As we study in an international school with people from over 80 countries we thought the best way to answer this question would be to ask our diverse peers about what is deemed beautiful in their country. Often male beauty standards are neglected and hardly talked about so in order to ensure that we consider beauty standards across all aspects of the population we decided to interview both male and female participants from their respective countries.

From the interviews we can infer that there are beauty standards and that they have been established by common culture. The impact of these beauty standards and uniformity in beauty can be detrimental to society if taken to the extreme and may pressure people into looking a certain way. This standard and expectation stands to question means in a culture. Is it formulaic meaning that if you inherit a fixed set of characteristics like skin color you are considered beautiful or is it more creative in that beauty doesn’t lie in the color of the skin, hair or eyes but in the harmony of all the features together.

If beauty lies in accepting different variations and combinations, then isn’t everyone beautiful. Wouldn’t we be a healthier and happier society if everyone felt beautiful, where diversity and increasing globalisation were celebrated as they break this toxic beauty standard allowing people to view beauty as a spectrum rather than a constant. However, that said , is breaking down the standard of beauty a threat to culture and if it is, is culture to blame for the beauty standard?

Manya and Angel

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