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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rayonnant rose window in Notre-Dame de Paris. Light was considered as the most beautiful revelation of God, as was manifested in Gothic architecture.

Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning, or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture. An "ideal beauty" is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.

The experience of "beauty" often involves the interpretation of some entity as being in balance and harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being. Because this is a subjective experience, it is often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."[1] In its most profound sense, beauty may engender a salient experience of positive reflection about the meaning of one's own existence. A subject of beauty is anything that resonates with personal meaning.

The classical Greek adjective for "beautiful" was καλλός, kallos. The Koine Greek word for beautiful was ὡραῖος, hōraios,[2] an adjective etymologically coming from the word ὥρα, hōra, meaning "hour." In Koine Greek, beauty was thus associated with "being of one's hour." A ripe fruit (of its time) was considered beautiful, whereas a young woman trying to appear older or an older woman trying to appear younger would not be considered beautiful. In Attic Greek, hōraios had many meanings, including "youthful" and "ripe old age."[3]


Historical view of beauty

The Taj Mahal is an example of symmetry in architecture.

There is evidence that a preference for beautiful faces emerges early in child development, and that the standards of attractiveness are similar across different genders and cultures.[4] Symmetry is also important because it suggests the absence of genetic or acquired defects.

Although style and fashion vary widely, cross-cultural research has found a variety of commonalities in people's perception of beauty. The earliest Western theory of beauty can be found in the works of early Greek philosophers from the pre-Socratic period, such as Pythagoras. The Pythagorean school saw a strong connection between mathematics and beauty. In particular, they noted that objects proportioned according to the golden ratio seemed more attractive. Ancient Greek architecture is based on this view of symmetry and proportion.

Classical philosophy and sculptures of men and women produced according to these philosophers' tenets of ideal human beauty were rediscovered in Renaissance Europe, leading to a re-adoption of what became known as a "classical ideal". In terms of female human beauty, a woman whose appearance conforms to these tenets is still called a "classical beauty" or said to possess a "classical beauty", whilst the foundations laid by Greek and Roman artists have also supplied the standard for male beauty in western civilization.

Human beauty

A Beauty pageant queen.

The characterization of a person as “beautiful”, whether on an individual basis or by community consensus, is often based on some combination of Inner Beauty, which includes psychological factors such as personality, intelligence, grace, congeniality, charm, integrity, congruity and elegance, and Outer Beauty, (i.e. physical attractiveness) which includes physical factors, such as health, youthfulness, sexiness, symmetry, averageness, and complexion.

Standards of beauty are always evolving, based on what a culture considers valuable. Historical paintings show a wide range of different standards for beauty. However, humans who are relatively young, with smooth skin, well-proportioned bodies, and regular features, have traditionally been considered to be the most beautiful throughout history.

A strong indicator of physical beauty is "averageness," or "koinophilia." When images of human faces are averaged together to form a composite image, they become progressively closer to the "ideal" image and are perceived as more attractive. This was first noticed in 1883, when Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, overlaid photographic composite images of the faces of vegetarians and criminals to see if there was a typical facial appearance for each. When doing this, he noticed that the composite images were more attractive compared to any of the individual images.

Researchers have replicated the result under more controlled conditions and found that the computer generated, mathematical average of a series of faces is rated more favorably than individual faces.[5] Evolutionarily it makes logical sense that sexual creatures should be attracted to mates who possess predominantly common or average features.[6]

A feature of beautiful women that has been explored by researchers is a waist-to-hip ratio of approximately 0.70. Physiologists have shown that women with hourglass figures are more fertile than other women due to higher levels of certain female hormones, a fact that may subconsciously condition males choosing mates.[7]

People are influenced by the images they see in the media to determine what is or is not beautiful. Feminists and doctors have suggested that the ultra-skinny models featured in magazines promote eating disorders,[8] and others have argued that the predominance of white women featured in movies and advertising leads to a Eurocentric concept of beauty, feelings of inferiority in women of color,[9] and internalized racism.[10]

The black is beautiful cultural movement sought to dispel this notion.[11] Conversely, beauty ideals may also promote racial unity. Mixed race children are often perceived to be more attractive than their parents because their genetic diversity protects them from the inherited errors of their individual parents.[12]

The concept of beauty in men is known as 'bishōnen' in Japan. Bishōnen refers to males with distinctly feminine features, physical characteristics establishing the standard of beauty in Japan and typically exhibited in their pop culture idols.

Inner beauty

Inner beauty is a concept used to describe the positive aspects of something that is not physically observable.

While most species use physical traits and pheromones to attract mates, some humans claim to rely on the inner beauty of their choices. Qualities including kindness, sensitivity, tenderness or compassion, creativity and intelligence have been said to be desirable since antiquity.

Effects on society

Beauty presents a standard of comparison, and it can cause resentment and dissatisfaction when not achieved. People who do not fit the "beauty ideal" may be ostracized within their communities. The television sitcom Ugly Betty portrays the life of a girl faced with hardships due to society's unwelcoming attitudes toward those they deem unattractive. However, a person may also be targeted for harassment because of their beauty. In Malèna, a strikingly beautiful Italian woman is forced into poverty by the women of the community who refuse to give her work for fear that she may "woo" their husbands.

Chinese Jade ornament with flower design, Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD), Shanghai Museum.

Researchers have found that good looking students get higher grades from their teachers than students with an ordinary appearance. Furthermore, attractive patients receive more personalized care from their doctors. Studies have even shown that handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts. How much money a person earns may also be influenced by physical beauty. One study found that people low in physical attractiveness earn 5 to 10 percent less than ordinary looking people, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those who are considered good looking.[13] Discrimination against others based on their appearance is known as lookism.

St. Augustine said of beauty "Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked."[14]


Ugliness is a property of a person or thing that is unpleasant to look upon and results in a highly unfavorable evaluation. To be ugly is to be aesthetically unattractive, repulsive, or offensive.[15] Like its opposite, beauty, ugliness involves a subjective judgment and is at least partly in the "eye of the beholder." Thus, the perception of ugliness can be mistaken or short-sighted, as in the story of The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen.

Although ugliness is normally viewed as a visible characteristic, it can also be an internal attribute. For example, an individual could be outwardly attractive but inwardly thoughtless and cruel. It is also possible to be in an "ugly mood," which is a temporary, internal state of unpleasantness.

See also


  1. ^ Gary Martin (2007). "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". The Phrase Finder. Retrieved December 4, 2007.  
  2. ^ Matthew 23:27, Acts 3:10, Flavius Josephus, 12.65
  3. ^ Euripides, Alcestis 515.
  4. ^ Rhodes, G. (2006). The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 199-226.
  5. ^ Langlois, J. H., Roggman, L. A., & Musselman, L. (1994). What is average and what is not average about attractive faces? Psychological Science, 5, 214-220.
  6. ^ KOESLAG, J.H. (1990). Koinophilia groups sexual creatures into species, promotes stasis, and stabilizes social behaviour. J. theor. Biol. 144, 15-35
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Chris Weedon, Cardiff University. "Key Issues in Postcolonial Feminism: A Western Perspective". Gender Forum Electronic Journal. Retrieved December 4, 2007.  
  11. ^ Dr. DoCarmo (2007). "Dr. DoCarmo's Notes on the Black Cultural Movement". Bucks County Community College. Retrieved December 4, 2007.  
  12. ^ Leroi, A. (2003). Mutants: On Genetic Variety and the Human Body. Viking books
  13. ^ Lorenz, K. (2005). "Do pretty people earn more?" CNN News, Time Warner.
  14. ^ City of God Book 15 Chapter 22
  15. ^ Webster's New World College Dictionary, 3rd edition, 1995.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Beauty is a characteristic of a person, place, object or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure, meaning or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology and culture. The subjective experience of beauty often involves the interpretation of some entity as being in harmony with nature, which may lead to feelings of attraction and emotional well-being.


  • BEAUTY: An aesthetic radiance that delights the soul; a quality much admired in women, landscapes and tropical fish, but curiously out of favor in art throughout the modern era.
  • Beauty. The power by which a woman charms a lover and terrifies a husband.
  • Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
  • We fly to beauty as an asylum from the terrors of finite nature.
  • Things are pretty, graceful, rich, elegant, handsome, but, until they speak to the imagination, not yet beautiful.
  • Il n'y a de vraiment beau que ce qui ne peut servir à rien; tout ce qui est utile est laid.
    • There is nothing truly beautiful but that which can never be of any use whatsoever; everything useful is ugly.
    • Théophile Gautier, Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835; Paris: Charpentier, 1866)
  • She who is born a beauty is born betrothed.
    • Italian proverb
  • Beauty is an ecstasy; it is as simple as hunger. There is really nothing to be said about it.
  • Beauty is ever to the lonely mind
    A shadow fleeting; she is never plain.
    She is a visitor who leaves behind
    The gift of grief, the souvenir of pain.
  • Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless: peacocks and lilies, for instance.
  • Beauty is nothing other than the promise of happiness.
  • Ask a toad what is beauty....; he will answer that it is a female with two great round eyes coming out of her little head, a large flat head, a yellow belly and a brown back.
  • God help you if you are an ugly girl because too pretty is also your doom: everyone harbours a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room.
  • Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the infinite.
    • George Bancroft, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 22.
  • The gospel allies itself with all that is beautiful in the universe, as truly as with all that is noble and pure.
    • Samuel Wolcott, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 22.
  • Eyes raised toward heaven are always beautiful, whatever they be.
    • Joseph Joubert, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 22.
  • I pray the prayer of Plato old, — "God make thee beautiful within."
    • J. G. Whittier, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 22.


  • If you search for beauty you will never lose sight of it. ~ Alfred Kin
  • The night sky is a beautiful thing no matter where you are..... Look at it and tell me that you do not just forget about every woe you have ever had. Gaze at the starry night and you forget about everything, get lost in the lights, and focus on the night sky. For it is truly beautiful, because in it you get lost and can think of simply nothing else. If you ever think something is beautiful do not compare it to a supermodel or a manmade piece of art, but compare it to the firmament, God's art. If you can find yourself getting lost and forgetting everything as when you look at the night sky then you have indeed found something truly beautiful. ~ Bob Hiteshew
  • I am sure that you heard it said that appearance does not matter so much and that it only matters what is on the inside. This is, of course, utter nonsense, because if it were true then people who were good on the inside, would never have to comb their hair or take a bath and then the whole world would smell worse than it already does. ~ Lemony Snicket
  • 'Beauty more than bitterness, makes the heart break' ~ Sara Teasdale
  • Beauty rely's on ones ability to find the right source to achieve it! ~ (
  • It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness. ~ Leo Tolstoy
  • Sight is a big part of our existence, but it shouldn't make us blind to other things. ~ Moira Doolan on beauty and aesthetics.
  • Beauty is merciless. You do not look at it, it looks at you and does not forgive. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis
  • The gift which you possess ... is not an art, but, as I was just saying, an inspiration; there is a divinity moving you... For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed... Socrates in Plato's Ion.
  • But what if man had eyes to see the true beauty--the divine beauty, I mean, pure and clear and unalloyed, not clogged with the pollutions of mortality and all the colours and vanities of human life--thither looking, and holding converse with the true beauty simple and divine? ~ Plato's Symposium
  • Beauty is no quality in things themselves: it exists merely in the mind which contemplates them. ~ David Hume
  • Beauty is skin deep but ugly goes all the way to the bones.
  • A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it. ~ Voltaire
  • I'm tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want—an adorable pancreas? ~ Jean Kerr
  • There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness. – Countess of Blessington
  • A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness. ~ John Keats
  • Anybody who preserves the ability to recognize beauty will never get old. ~ Franz Kafka
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. ~ Proverb
  • Beauty is in the heart of the beholder. ~ Al Bernstein
  • Beauty is in the imagination of the beholder. ~ David Newell
  • Beauty is the evidence of why we are here. ~ Adrian D. Canfield
  • Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it. ~ Confucius
  • Glance at the sun.
    See the moon and the stars.
    Gaze at the beauty of the earth's greenings.
    Think. ~ Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
  • He who marries a beauty, marries trouble. ~ Anonymous
  • She had gained a reputation for beauty, and (which is often another thing) was beautiful. ~ Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit
  • I have a message to deliver to the cute people of the world... if you're cute, or maybe you're beautiful... there's more of us UGLY MOTHERFUCKERS out there than you are!! So watch out. ~ Frank Zappa
  • If a model pay food with a greenback this dollar is an important part of a balanced diet too. ~ Unknown Author
  • Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but reality (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may. ~ Plato
  • The moment one give close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself. ~ Henry Miller
  • Through light and joy is the world opened up, revealed for what it is: ineffable beauty, unending creation. ~ Henry Miller
  • To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms -- this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness. ~ Albert Einstein
  • Walk on a rainbow trail; walk on a trail of song, and all about you will be beauty. There is a way out of every dark mist, over a rainbow trail. ~ Navajo song
  • When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. ~ Chinese proverb
  • If truth is beauty how come nobody has their hair done in a library? ~ Lily Tomlin
  • When you get to the point where you cheat for the sake of beauty, you're an artist. ~ Max Jacob
  • Beauty will be convulsive or not at all. ~ André Breton "Nadja"
  • Beauty always comes with dark thoughts. ~ Nightwish ~ "Wish I Had An Angel"
  • "Smash, smash the old laws" habitual beauty becomes narcotic eventually; it can be rediscovered, but only dialectically, by contrast, by the creation of new, brutally shocking beauty, beauty that seems barbarism at first. And the creation of such new beauty is the first step for anyone who would a god, and not a slave of dead gods. It is in the war between great seeking and great boredom that new beauty is born. ~ Robert Anton Wilson
  • And lo, the Beast looked upon the face of Beauty. Beauty stayed Its hand and from that moment on, He was as one dead.
  • Beauty is a curse on the world. It keeps us from seeing who the real monsters are. ~ The Carver, Nip/Tuck
  • All life is beautiful. All humans are beautiful. Only behavior makes one ugly. ~ Jeffrey C. Keene II
  • I know very well that beauty is empty. But I want it anyway. ~ Anonymous
  • Beauty is pain ~ Steven Minshall
  • "Beauty is in the eye of the BEERHOLDER"- WC Fields or Rodney Dangerfield ?
  • The reason for the unreason with which you treat reason, so weakens my reason that with reason I complain of your beauty. ~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • A girl of sixteen deserves no credit for her looks. Beauty at sixty is her souls doing. ~ Anonymous
  • Nothing is more powerful than beauty in a wicked world. ~ Amos Lee
  • Beauty is it's own excuse for being. ~ Margaret Skinner's matchbox
  • Beauty is found within. ~ "Belle" in Beauty and The Beast
  • It's beauty that captures your attention; personality which captures your heart.

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Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

This is a disambiguation page, which lists works which share the same title. If an article link referred you here, please consider editing it to point directly to the intended page.

Beauty may refer to:

Simple English

Beauty is a property of certain things. Something is beautiful if it is nice to look at it, hear it, feel it, taste it, smell it or think about it. The opposite of beautiful is ugly.

"Beauty" is the name of a phenomena of human experience that occurs when an experience is sensed that makes the sensor feel good. It is made possible by contrast with experiences that are different and unpleasantly surprising. The nature of this contrast varies from person to person and culture to culture. Some argue that it is unique to humans, other argue that other sentient beings experience it too in the expression of symbolic actions. Some humans celebrate the phenomena by an expression of joy, by some spontaneous symbolic action.

There are many ideas about what beauty is. Some people say that beauty is:

  • The similarity between a real object and an object of art. For example, a beautiful picture might be one that looks very lifelike.
  • The similarity between any object and what you think it 'should' look like. For example, a beautiful tree might be one with a straight brown trunk and lots of green leaves, or beautiful clouds might be those that are white and fluffy (like wool).
  • The way an object makes us feel: happy, sad, angry, or something else (emotional). For example, a beautiful peace of music might be one which makes people feel very happy or very sad.
  • The quality of an object. For example, a beautiful story might be very well written.

There are many other theories. Some things that people say are beautiful are not explained by any of these ideas.

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