Almost everyone wants to be considered beautiful, and many of us can describe individual features that we find appealing. However, too many of us regard beauty through a lens of self-criticism, able to point to every perceived flaw in our own appearance. Precious few of us, however, think about what beauty is or what it is for. In this series, we are going to explore what makes a human beautiful.
Almost all definitions of beauty characterize it as being pleasing to the eye. I am going to take a slightly different approach and define beauty as an unspoken communication. This non-verbal language can be broken into two broad categories; visual cues relating to our overall fitness for producing children, and an unspoken way to communicate our relative social status.
Much in the way that a peacock will show off his feathers to a peahen to impress her, humans show off a myriad of features to appeal to the opposite sex. Our displays are subtler than many found in the animal kingdom, but they are no less important. Through our appearance, we demonstrate the strength of our immune system, how well our bodies heal, and the health of our reproductive system, just to name a few examples.
Humans are social creatures, and genetic fitness is not the only way we signal how attractive we are. We also use our appearance to communicate our relative social standing, and these messages have far-reaching effects on us. These standards are also far more malleable, changing from place to place, throughout time, but also between social classes within the same society.
I’m writing these articles because how we look is incredibly important to our experience of life, but I think we too often approach the subject myopically; focusing on a specific flaw, or desiring a particular outcome. By taking a step back and looking at how beauty fits into our lives holistically, we can create unique solutions tailored to you, that will ultimately leave you far happier than a single focus approach. Holism is all about context, and so we’ll be exploring the context of human beauty.
In the first part of this series, we will discuss the various ways our health is communicated through our appearance. After that, we will explore the social context of beauty and examine what society thinks is beautiful and why. Lastly, we will synthesize this information, turning it into practical solutions to improve how we look, and more importantly, how we feel about how we look. I’m really excited to share this with you.
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