IS BEAUTY SOCIALLY CONSTRUCTED? OR IS IT HARDWIRED IN OUR BRAINS?
We as a society, nation and world can recognise beauty in all t hings. The idea of beauty is not just a physical appearance of a person or object. Rather, it is an understanding that gives some perceptual experience to one's eyes, ears, intellect, and moral sense . Given that beauty can be observed in just about every thing , and there are such a variety of things we find beautiful, human beings, natural land forms, works of art and skilled human action. T his paper will strictly focus on the social construction of beauty with regards to human beings /human form .
To begin w e should understand how social con s tr u cts are made . A social c onstruct is an idea or notion that appears to be natural and obvious to people who accept it but may or may not represent reality, so it remains largely an invention or artifice of a given society. In lesser terms this means that idea or perception that is developed by society that is "constructed" over a large period of time through out cultural and social practice. A great example of this would be the changing beauty standards of women in North America ; 16th Century: flat chest, 13-inch waist, 17th Century: large bust and hips, white complexion, 19th Century: tiny waist, full hips and bust, 1920s: slender legs and hips, small bust, 1940s & 1950s: hourglass shape, 1960s: lean, youthful body, long hair, 1970s: thin, tan, sensuous look, 1980s: slim but also muscular, toned, fit body, 1990s: thin bodies with large breasts etc. With recognizing that these ideas of beauty change so much over time, it can be argued that there are no universal metrics of beauty. It is indisputable that there certainly are an incessant number of cultural definitions of beauty. However, these are largely insignificant, when compared to evolutionarily relevant metrics. Let us consider two drastic culture-specific examples of beauty, which were discussed in class: the wearing of large lip plates by the Surma and Mursi women of Ethiopia, and the wearing of the neck elongation worn by the Kareni and Padaung women of Myanmar. In North American culture, we may find these ideas of beauty to be grotesque , but this is not to say that there is not beauty in the two. Within in a given culture the metrics of beauty change and it can be clearly shown by comparing the North American culture to those in Ethiopia and Myanmar.
Perhaps we do no t have to go to such drastic examples to understand that beauty exists in all cultures. In fact the bases of beauty are believed to be the same amongst all cultures and societies. The one thing that seems to be the general standard for beauty is the symmetry in the face. Symmetrical faces are construed as more beautiful than asymmetrical faces, in all cultures, irrespective of the race of the person being looked at and the race of the individual looking. A n experiment that was done with babies , whom of which are not sufficiently cognitively developed to be influenced by socialization, responded more positively to people whose features were symmetrical, and were sometimes even scared of people whose features were no t. The specifics of the features did not matter - what mattered was symmetry.  So on an instinctive level, there is a certain type of attractiveness that is hardwired. But then there are fads and fashions, which are a different matter.  Again t here are also "ideal looks" that varying cultures and time periods have. Ultimately, however, if your face and body are symmetrical, you'll usually be considered attractive regardless of anything else
If babies can identify what is beautiful, and they are insufficiently cognitively developed to be influenced by socialization, then biology must be involved. T he question now is how much. We are no longer primitive animals whose instinct tells us we must mate and have offspring. It is now much more than that, we look for inner beauty, what a person sounds like, feels like. How does this individual perceive me? How do they perceive