Our Definition of Beauty

Aphrodite is the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty. And in society, don’t we just love to love beauty? Physical beauty, that is. Through generations and decades, the definition of perfect physical looks is constantly changing. Sadly we buy into it, time after time. And most lamentably for women, this translates literally to millions of dollars spent at the cosmetics counter each year. It leads me to wonder, does this perpetually limited definition of beauty indicate an unevolved society?

What about inner beauty?

In indigenous cultures, a person’s age and facial wrinkles have been signatures of wisdom and stature. In our modern Western societies, they denote “past one’s prime” and “not beautiful any more”. And perhaps even worse, no longer useful where money and “he who owns the most toys” measure success.

Limited definition of beauty through the ages

Out of curiosity, I Googled the phrase “definitions of beauty throughout history”. I was not at all surprised to find that the top listed articles are about desirable physical beauty. And, most specifically in women. It is interesting to peruse articles such as Body Types Through History. They just serve to confirm how fleeting physical standards of beauty really are. And in the long run, one realizes as well how thoroughly superficial they are.

The sociological implications

The only exception I found on the first page of the Google search results was History of Standards Of Beauty, a UK essay commentary about the sociological implications. Now for me, this is thoroughly engaging! It’s a lengthy read, but well worth it if you want an expanded analysis of exactly what I’m talking about here.

To sum up, perhaps it is time to reconsider of our definition of beauty and aging? In midlife I have come up against this wall personally, and I wrote about it in my story Pretty Is as Pretty Does.


Our Definition of Beauty © Susan L Hart 2019

Photo courtesy Edu Carvalho, Pexels