The Modern Perspective of Beauty from the Prism of Culture or Race


The Modern Perspective of Beautyfrom the Prism of Culture or Race

The Modern Perspective of Beautyfrom the Prism of Culture or Race

The question of what is beautyhas troubled philosophers for many centuries including people likeAristotle and Plato. The nature of beauty is one that is fascinatingand remains a riddle in the world of philosophy. No one has everdefined the standards that define beauty and what can be calledbeautiful and what is not beautiful. Nevertheless, philosophers haveargued that beauty goes beyond the simple aspect of what is physical.Beauty includes more of things that are not seen. The perceptions ofbeauty in the 20th century have dramatically changed. How women lookat beauty in this era is quite a difference from what used to be inthe previous years. This paper analyzes the female perception beautyin the 20th century and the measures of beauty basing onrace/culture.

Bond,&amp Cash (2012) onceargued that the judgment of beauty is different from cognitive ormoral judgment because it is affected subjectively. Beauty isexclusively about the person making the judgment. Such perspectiveshave always made it hard for people to come to the same conclusion ofwhat is beautiful. The necessity to reach a common ground on whatmakes up beauty intensified in the 20th century. The definition inthis century of human beauty was constructed basing on the sexualattractiveness and the outward appearances. Some of the prominentdefinitions include one by Nancy Baker (Bond, &amp Cash (2012)). Sheargues that someone beautiful makes the best of physical assets andalso radiates the personal qualities that are attractive. A beautifulperson is one that is immediately exciting to almost all the oppositesex. All these definitions are based on the physical characteristicand are concerned with the sexual attractiveness of a person. Theseperspectives have continued to shape the perceptions of beauty andtoday any woman that seek to be beautiful will try as much to looksexually attractive.

One element of beauty in thiscentury is the polarity of cosmetics. In the previous centuries,cosmetics often frowned and were seen as a mark of a prostitute. Thisperspective has changed over the recent decades and now a cosmetic isthe mark of beauty. From puberty, young girls will put on cosmeticsso that they can look older and be approached by older boys. On theother hand, the older women will use cosmetics so that they can hidetheir flaws and appear youthful. Nevertheless, this boom has comewith it a bitter pill to swallow. Many feminist believe thatmarketing cosmetics along high fashion is just another way ofexploitation by some mogul in the industry. This is not theperspective shared by some women. For them, cosmetics can even beused for competition at the workplace. The variation in the use ofcosmetic is also seen in the various races. The white will prefer touse more cosmetics the blacks will not share the same idea (Sharp,2015).

The media and the film industryis also one of the major influences on the concept of beauty in the21 century. At the beginning and better half of the century, all thebeauty icons were actresses. The medium allowed women that would havebeen overlooked to shine and rise to fame. It became evident that anyworking class woman that wanted to be successful in Hollywood shouldbe beautiful. It is this development that led to the tie betweenfashion and the film industry. A beautiful woman could easilyflourish in the film industry and thus became a start. Ideally, thefilm industry set the standard of what could be seen as beautiful andwhat is not. If one could not measure the level of the icons in thefilm, then there is no way they could qualify to be beautiful allthese perception still concentrated only on the physical aspect of awoman to define beauty (Sharp, 2015).

The end of the decade witnessedquite a change in the perception of beauty. After the world war twothere was a restriction of fabrics and cosmetics, and this was a timethat new ideas on beauty took shape. It was during 1960 that beautywas associated with the social class and wealth. Some of the modestyof concealing beauty was now replaced with the new models of showingoff to reveal one`s beauty. Some of the good examples of this erawere mini-skirts. This was the era that shows beauty being defined byexposing as many parts of the body.

Today the concept of beauty isquite different from the previous age. A large percentage of womentoday believe that beauty can be achieved through attitude, spiritand another attribute that are far from what is physical. Womenbelieve that beauty is not only a physical characteristic that peopleshould look at. The approach to the beauty from physicalcharacteristics is masculine and does not represent the true virtueof beauty. Today beauty is defined intellectually. For one to meritthe standards of being beautiful one should have done more than justlooking beautiful. The society is transcending the masculineperspective of beauty. In the ages of masculinity, beauty was onlylooked at from the perspective of sexual attractiveness. These arenot the same definition that defines beauty. This approach is moreperspective and one that bring out the true intent of beauty(D’Oyley, 2014).

Another aspect of beauty in thisage is that it is not pegged on age. In the previous decades, theyoung and the middle-aged were the people that were thought to bebeautiful. As one grows older, it was though thought that theirbeauty is diminished. This misrepresentation is based on theperception that beauty is only physical. When one starts to look atbeauty from the other perspective, then it is arguable that it doesnot depend on one’s age. One can still be beautiful even thoughthey are aging. This is because their beauty is not on how sexuallyattractive they look but rather some other aspect that are beyondwhat we can see.

The measure of beauty also has acultural and racial dimension. Different races have their measure ofone’s beauty. From the black perspective, beauty is measured bycurves at the right places. To the black women the emphasize ismostly on the shape. The white women might not share the sameperspective when it comes to the beauty of a woman. While thevariation in perspective shapes the measure of beauty, it is clearthat one dimension cannot be used measure the stand value of beautyfor every woman out there. The various in races bring out a contrastin what one might call beauty. A woman with curves might lookbeautiful among the blacks but might as well fail to look so amongthe whites (D’Oyley, 2014).

Though the measure of beauty cantake a racial perspective, the measure is quite too elusive. Thereare many challenges that come about when one’s chooses to measurebeauty basing on the person race. The ideas of using race obviouslyset in a lot of prejudices and that are what makes it hard to userace as a basis for measuring one beauty. Ideally there are manyother indicators that can be used while measuring beauty but race istoo prejudiced. Beauty is more than just one can see. There is moreto it, and there is a need for a change in perspective on what isbeautiful.


Bond,S., &amp Cash, T. F. (2012). Black Beauty: Skin Color and BodyImages among African‐ AmericanCollege Women1. Journalof Applied Social Psychology,22(11),874-888.

D’Oyley,D. (2014). Black BeautyStandards Can Be Just as Unhealthy as White Ones.The Root.Retrieved 29 October 2015, from hy_as_white_ones.html

Sharp,G. (2015).Race and theProblems with Measuring Beauty “Objectively” – Sociological 29 October 2015, from beauty-objectively/