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Beauty, Biology, and Society Essay

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Beauty, Biology, and Society


What is beauty? How do human beings decide who is attractive and who is not? Society is full of messages telling us what is beautiful, but what are those definitions based on? Do we consciously decide whom we are attracted to, or is biology somehow involved? The issue of beauty and how we define it has been studied for centuries. Scholars from all fields of study have searched for the "formula" for beauty. Darwin in his book The Descent of Man wrote, "It is certainly not true that there is in the mind of man any universal standard of beauty with respect to the human body. It is however, possible that certain tastes in the course of time become inherited, though I have no evidence in favor of this belief." (1) Science has tried to look at beauty beyond the conscious level. It has tried to determine what roles biology plays in human attraction. Scientists have discovered that symmetry and scent play a role in defining human attraction. (3) But while this can begin to explain beauty on the most basic of levels, what accounts for variations in the standard of beauty? The idea of beauty varies within different societies and communities. Do these cultural preferences have a biological basis? What is the relationship between biology and society in relation to the idea of beauty? How do they relate to each other, and how do they differ? In particular what role does science play in the preference that many societies, (in particular South Asian, East Asian, and North American Cultures), have for fairer skin?

Beauty is experienced through visual stimuli. The human being's intake of beauty is through both conscious and unconscious decisions. (4) (4) The question is what motivates our unconscious decisions...


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...t/html/astrid/femphers.html

3) Evolutionary Psychology of Sexual Attraction
https://cognet.mit.edu/login/?return_url=%2Flibrary%2Ferefs%2Fmitecs%2Fthornhill.html

4) The Biological Purpose of Beauty
http://www.beautyworlds.com/beautybiological.htm

5) The Role of Afrocentric Features in Person Perception: Judging by Features and Categories , Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
http://www.colorado.edu/~iblair/Blar_features.pdf

6) When Black Isn't Beautiful, , The Guardian.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,3899316,00.html

7) What's In a Colour?.
http://www.peak.sfu.ca/the-peak/98-2/issue1/colourbar.html1/

8) The Colour Bar of Beauty
http://www.peak.sfu.ca/the-peak/98-2/issue1/colourbar.html1/

9) Races and Racism
http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro02/web2/)%20http://www.geocities.com/pak_history/racism.html



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