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Beauty is Subjective

Updated on December 16, 2012

If you look up “beauty” in a dictionary, it is simply defined as “a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction”; but yet, characteristics of beauty range differently among individuals–supporting the beauty-is-subjective argument. Beauty is subjective because there is no actual existence of beauty that can be characterized–that can be measured, described, or defined from the object–because it exists as favorable perceptions by the individual. Another way to put it is that beauty is so loosely defined that it is hard to strictly count it quantitatively or describe it qualitatively as an idea because what beauty is, has a variety of interpretations that come from within the individual.

"Beauty" Google Image Search Results

The concept of subjective beauty yields the notion that beauty of an object is dependent on the individual; for example, searching “beauty” on Google Images results in a display of common characteristics of what beauty appears to “be.” The web-search engine’s perceived definition of beauty can be interpreted based on the image results that are associated with it; all images consisted of: women wearing makeup, having flawless skin, and being thin. To say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is equivalent to say that what each person believes is beauty, is the truth. But if that were true, then that would mean that the men would have no beauty whatsoever according to Google.

Therefore beauty is subjective, because once defined by the subject, the truth becomes blurred along the lines of fact and opinion. Beauty exists as objective; whether an object has beauty or not can be definable and existent, but the way humans define beauty to themselves transforms it into a subjective concept. By self-claiming what beauty is to ourselves, then we have our own visualizations and characteristics of what we personally consider and interpret as having beauty, not universal fact or truth based from the object. Essentially, an object with beauty is a result of a preference that we have self-identified with a set of characteristics that by comparison, we favor over others as having more beauty. If two people were to see the same object–and one viewed the object as beautiful where the other claimed it as not–they would both have different perceptions of what beauty really is; but the object itself still has beauty, although one person does not consider it so. The difference between the two individuals’ perceptions of the object was not having-or-not-having beauty, but what each individual constituted what beauty is.

Beauty comes from the object’s state of being or having the ability to bring about pleasure or satisfaction. But whether or not the object has beauty is determined by the subject’s identification as to what has the ability to bring pleasure and satisfaction to the self. There is no universal form of beauty that is true to everyone. If there was, then beauty would be objective and could be measured by a characteristic, like how colorful something is. But then, what would beauty be to someone who is blind and can’t see or know what colors are? Beauty to someone who is blind and someone without a visual impairment would be different and unique to the subject because of the way humans vary in perception of what brings pleasure and satisfaction. In conclusion, beauty is subjective and not objective because: what consists of having beauty is not a universal truth, the subject is the one that defines what beauty is, and there no set way to measure or say what beauty is.

What do you think? How else is beauty is subjective?

Can beauty ever be an object or idea of desire? What does it look like?

Why is that society can influence the way people perceive what beauty is?

If beauty were to be objective, what results might occur?


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