Monday, May 28, 2012

Notes on Beauty and Ugliness


  1. Taste is subjective (to some extent), but that doesn't mean that taste is an illusion.  Things lie somewhere on the spectrum of tastefulness, attractiveness, beauty, ... Their placement is subjective, following an act of perception, but the placement is a fact.

  2. A sense of beauty, attractiveness, charm, exists in other species as well.  Sexual mating is always a race, and attractiveness is one way to signal a higher fitness.

  3. There are standards to evaluate beauty and ugliness in human beings.  Otherwise, for example, advertising, modeling wouldn't work as they indeed do.  There would be no use for cosmetics, surgical interventions, perfumes, skin products, ...

  4. A baby can be ugly, but it is usually impolite to express one's disapproval.  It is helpless, after all.  An adult, on the other hand, can indulge in some camouflage to hide the glaring defects.  We dislike an adult who has a strong body odor AND doesn't do anything about it.  The inaction probably says more about him than the body odor.

  5. Anyone is instantly more attractive when smiling.  The truly beautiful are beautiful even when they are crying or angry.  Most people who are generally considered pretty look horrible when in a bad mood.

  6. Lack of confidence due to a flaw in oneself can be, at times, more repelling than the flaw itself.  To accept oneself is quite an attractive trait.  If you wouldn't accept yourself, how can another accept you, or much further down the path, love you?  Out of pity?

  7. Ugly people are treated bitterly by the world, and they turn bitter in their turn.  An ugly person is usually well aware of their ugliness.  This inner bitterness, and insecurity, makes them bad companions, even if one could live with their ugliness.

  8. Beauty, sensitivity and sensuality go hand in hand.  Sensuality need not be opposed to simplicity.  An otherwise beautiful person diminishes in beauty if they do not know when to speak loudly and when to speak softly.  How to eat, how to walk.  Similarly, an otherwise beautiful person enhances in beauty if they pay close attention to senses other than the visual, say, by using a perfume.

  9. Gracefulness is to move and act with beauty.  It has a lot to do with inner peace, poise and restraint.

  10. You do others a disservice if you make them work too hard to know you.  Say, only via a deep conversation.  Let them know you a little bit by your exterior as well!  Let your being be a continuum which expresses itself in the visible and the hidden.

  11. To be too aware, to be too conscious, to preen oneself too much, while in interaction, is a sign of insecurity about oneself.  It is a fear of being judged and might have deep-rooted causes.  A person whose movements, gait and words seem contrived and artificial is seeking validation: is a taker, not a giver.  It is exhausting to be with someone like that for long.

  12. Good health and a good digestion were always aids to being beautiful.  Similarly, soundness of mind and a not too touchy disposition were always aids to affability.

  13. It is not a sin to be sensual, to look attractive, to pay attention to looking attractive, to pay attention to another's attractiveness, to admire a rose or a rosy cheek, to feel glad about seeing a smooth sand dune or a smooth forehead, to feel something within oneself after seeing a wispy cloud moving across the sky or a heaving bust.  Mere shallow sensuality will not last, a shallow one will exhaust itself and stop being attractive.  Long-lasting attractiveness can perhaps not be achieved without an inner depth.

  14. Media created beauty is unreal.  Only if people knew what enormous efforts and techniques and careful lighting angles and post-processing go into creating a somewhat pretty face on the screen and on the pages of a fashion magazine.

  15. To spend too much effort on one's appearance has the risk of making one little more than a pretty shell housing nothing.  (A great video clip from American Psycho, with Patrick Bateman getting ready in the morning.)

6 comments:

Kislay Verma said...

"Their placement is subjective, following an act of perception, but the placement is a fact."

The statement in oxymoronic. Outside of relativity, subjective things are opinions, not facts.

Anonymous said...

     “If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugliness”

Nice observations and well written. #12 n # 13 points are what I considere together as beauty. A simple person,with competent mind, carry oneself gracefully as situation demands, confident about one's ability and considerate is what I call beautiful.Human are by nature always get attracted for beautiful packaging , but can not sustain interest if it's not containing something really worthful.

Anonymous said...

Beauty of anything in existence is the balance of that thing with everything else in existence. So a dark complexioned naked tribal is beautiful in a hot tropical region because that dark complexion(high melanin in skin to guard against the Uv in the sun) and the lack of clothes keep that person cool and in balance with his environment. Such a person, displaced from his environment would probably be considered "ugly" by people who do not understand the balance between that tribal and his environment.
That misunderstanding is what is called "taste". So an actress wearing heavy makeup and gaudy clothes
might be judged as someone with poor taste o clothes if people do not understand that it is that gaudiness and heaviness of makeup that keeps that actress in balance with her surroundings. If the actress is able to keep the balance with HER (not your) surroundings, she is beautiful if not then she is not beautiful.
To understand beauty you have to understand the object,its surroundings and what keeps the balance. To understand bodily taste you just follow your bodily reaction - attracted or repelled by the object.
When you have understood beauty you will acquire what is called "refined taste". This taste is above your bodily taste or bodily reaction. A person with "refined taste" likes all things that are in balance.
So he might like a skunk that smells like a skunk because that smell helps keep the skunk in balance with its surroundings. A human being smelling like a skunk indicates a person not in balance with their surroundings.

Sumod said...

Very interesting post, enjoyed it.

I need to think about some of them in more depth. But one stood out for me. Isn't somehow 7 and 13 inconsistent with each other. Someone's ugliness (being a brute is sometimes easier and faster to express ;), might not be their mistake. Our visual cues are so much more powerful (check out McGurk's effect, the same reason we don't have sexy sound models) that we can get carried away by it. Again we live in a complex network, inter connected to each other. So be yourself an altruist or a machiavellian, it is your interest to dampen the cue as much as possible. I do however agree that is more practical to dress up decently.

Sumod said...

Very interesting post, enjoyed it.

I need to think about some of them in more depth. But one stood out for me. Isn't somehow 7 and 13 inconsistent with each other. Someone's ugliness (being a brute is sometimes easier and faster to express ;), might not be their mistake. Our visual cues are so much more powerful (check out McGurk's effect, the same reason we don't have sexy sound models) that we can get carried away by it. Again we live in a complex network, inter connected to each other. So be yourself an altruist or a machiavellian, it is your interest to dampen the cue as much as possible. I do however agree that is more practical to dress up decently.

Geetanjali said...

Nice! My opinions are as follows

1.Agree, taste is subjective!
2.Attractiveness- yes, biologically….. charm seems to be more of a human manifestation, more so a personal, ‘subjective’ notion.
3.Standards to evaluate beauty? I think they are standards to evaluate prettiness (i.e. subjective). I say prettiness because; they seem to change ever so often. Today someone might fit the said standards, but tomorrow they may not.
4.What if you have a really good looking person, who has body odour? Does that person suddenly seize to be beautiful, just because, he/she has done nothing about it??- isn’t that vanity, you are tagging the person because they have not complied with the set rules of vanity?
5.Hmm…. Point duly noted… shall observe and get back.
6.I guess this is what I’d call charm or charisma. Which eventually adds, or may be the sole factor to making that person Beautiful.
7.This is a harsh stereotype.. which I don’t agree with. This statement is in turn making a norm for the “not so beautiful”… What when you belong to a cult like the goths, who consider everything morbid, secluded and bitter- attractive??
8.Again – perception and individual opinion. Different cultures, different norms and scales.
9.Probably…
10.Still trying to figure out what this has to do with beauty…
11.Wow…true! But can you help it? People have so much pressure from society to look and behave a certain way???? Especially when you have individuals judging people by body odour and grace-o-meters???!!! :)
12.Hmmm….
13.Agreed.. being a narcissist is not an attractive quality
14.True.. couldn’t agree with you more!
15.Very Very true!!

I think being Pretty and being beautiful are very different things….