For a long time, there have been many debates between psychologists and biologists whether attractiveness is inherent or subjective. We have learned from Plato’s “golden proportions” that just like all aspects of nature, aesthetics or beauty is a culmination of geometric symmetry. The theory suggests that symmetry translates attractiveness to the human eye, which probably explains why there is a dominant standard with regards to beauty.
There is also this saying that goes, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This saying suggests that beauty is purely subjective, and prioritises beauty that is within, rather than surface value. While some argue that beauty has a mathematical formula, some would say that beauty standards have a cultural basis.
The concept and standard of beauty continue to evolve, and they vary between cultures and time periods. But, there is one fascinating study that connects the dots and explains how beauty, physical beauty, that is, can also influence power dynamics within and between cultures.
Link between Symmetry and Attractiveness
There is substantial literature discussing in depth why people with symmetrical faces and proportional bodies tend to be more confident and extroverted, thus more powerful in the social atmosphere. For example, a person’s sexual attractiveness highly depends on physical appearance. And scientists say that other than psychological, biology also has something to do with it.
The rationale behind this, according to biologists, is that individuals, both humans and animals, with symmetric faces and proportional bodies have a higher mate-value and usually have stronger immune systems. Thus, symmetric individuals have more robust genes, improving likelihood that their offspring will survive.
Link between Facial Symmetry and Extraversion and Confidence
Meanwhile, the ‘halo effect,’ derived from the perfection associated with angels, explains that in society, attractive people tend to be more intelligent, better-adjusted and more popular. Scientists claim that attractive people are more likely to be successful in their careers and relationships. This is because most people evaluate personalities based on physical appearance.
Studies also show that attractive people are more confident and extroverted because they receive the most attention in public spaces. Meanwhile, people who perceive they are less attractive tend to shy away, and tend to stand behind the shadow of their more attractive counterparts.
Cultural stereotypes also play a major role in power dynamics. Caucasians are perceived by other cultures to be more attractive because their faces are more symmetrical and their bodies are more proportional.
People who may not be as attractive as others are very likely to succeed as well. But, according to Smileworks, the key is to keep a confident self-perception, healthy feedback from other people and striving for better things other than being more attractive.
So, is attractiveness subjective cultural or inherent? Whichever is true, we do know that beauty tends to pervade society and affect the course of a person’s life. It often leads to negative consequences, such as missing out on opportunities because of self-deprecation.