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How far has beauty evolved over the years?

Beauty makes your heart beat faster, compels your eyes to seek it and find solace in its presence but your ideals of beauty are unique to you, making beauty a perception. A saying that defines beauty like no other is that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, an idea that is magnificent in its shift based on its appreciator. Beauty as a concept is innately perceived, not defined by rigid standards and that is what makes beauty a concept debatable and contentious. 

Over the years, beauty has seen multiple shifts and continues to see them. Yesterday, today and tomorrow look very different for beauty, a concept that in its very essence is at the confluence of all factors of humanity. Everything we come across is an object shifts of beauty, every person beautiful in their own way. History is witness to the dynamic changes beauty has seen over the many years ever since human preoccupation with anyone ‘beautiful’.

Every aspect of life tries to define beauty in its own terms; magazines, industries, celebrities or social media all being major players in determining what the current standards of beauty are. People look for validation of their beauty in the terms defined by these factors. One day an impeccable physique, the next a slimmer body structure following which a curvaceous body type is considered the ‘ideal’. But the question that arises is whether ideal can ever be defined like beauty. Beauty remains a dynamic idea, having come full circles from the extravagant, slender built to a more curvaceous built in the past century back to a slimmer form for the body.

Beauty is vastly cultural, being defined by areas and its expectations of beauty. While some regions see beauty in terms of high cheekbones, stronger set features accentuated by eyes of shades of blue or green, other areas in different times have seen beauty as softer features, made bright with shades of red with a particular inclination towards lighter skin and golden hair. Beauty and aesthetics remain intertwined with each other, aesthetics developing based on the popular culture of the particular time. 

In a binary world where male and female are the primarily understood, heteronormative gender, both the genders have been subjected to different standards of beauty with the other identities being completely discounted. While women were expected to be willowy, men were expected to be hard and sturdy, a physical manifestation of their ‘masculine beauty. Over the years, the ideas attached to the beauty of men and women have evolved to accommodate the needs of the time and the prevalent understanding of ‘beautiful’. But as days pass, other genders have used their beauty as a means of expression, a way to make themselves in a world quick to suppress voices. They use make-up as a way to make their identities accepted, their beauty an appropriation of their extravagant and alluring ways of presentation.

Beauty is and will always continue to remain highly political. Conversations revolving around changes in the standards of beauty focus on how the society has evolved over the years to be more accepting and open and on this journey has involved innumerable factors. For instance, during the Victorian period, the beauty of women was a way to make suitable matches that would ensure financial stability. Hile this period denied women their own political and economic rights, beauty became the means for sustenance. Men on the other hand married women having the ‘ideal’ beauty to establish their influence over the social and political scenario of the time. Time and again, controversies surrounding beauty have risen with people divided n their ideas of what true beauty is but never reaching a consensus. 

In contemporary times, a factor that influences people’s motions of beauty more than anything else is social media. Its influence is all-encompassing and has worked to introduce indispensable ideas like body positivity, racial equality and has allowed different ideals of beauty to permeate the world, not just the Western conception of beauty. This is pushing the world towards a place of complete acceptance and finding beauty in every unique feature of a person. While their negative impacts of social media on beauty as well, as the world progresses, people are learning to embrace themselves for their real selves and are creating a world of unfiltered beauty.

Campaigns on inclusive beauty are taking the world by storm as people raise their voices to support all kinds of physicality and externality. Real is the true beautiful, with the world shifting its focus on popularizing equality in beauty. The highly aristocratic and exclusive nature of beauty has come a long way to find beauty in every eye, every skin color and in the varying shades of one’s falling tresses. Social media platforms have offered spaces for all to explore their beauty and let the world delve into it. These platforms are ways people are using their voices to announce their understanding of beauty thereby breaking any preconceived and stereotypical notions of what beauty looks like.

Beauty is no more found in the slender waist and blue eyes. It is no more reflected through the transparent, white skin. It is no more trapped in the hard abs of the tall man. It is found in everything, from radiant, brown skin to, a smiling make-up-less face to sneakers worn with tuxedos. Beauty is in the mind of the observer and the beautiful is not what is seemingly apparent but what is, in reality. As has been said, beauty is indeed the illumination of your soul. The power of beauty is in its ability to create and rule but its actual strength is n its embracement of the unique. Who really knows what beauty is? Years from now, maybe we will come back to this discussion with very different thoughts of beauty yet drawing solace from its existence.

Photo by Sandeep Arora from FreeImages

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