A person is still trying to understand why certain objects, people and phenomena are beautiful, while others are not. We will tell you how our consciousness forms aesthetic ideas about the world around us and whether there is a formula for beauty.
Standards of physical beauty in different cultures
History shows that samples, “standards” of beauty vary greatly in different countries and cultures. In addition to the obvious preference for people without a pronounced physical asymmetry of the body, as well as “average” in appearance, there are other, changing cultural preferences.
In Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, the standards of male and female beauty were practically indistinguishable from the standards of the beginning of the 20th century, the century of the development of the Olympic movement.
In the Middle Ages, a fashion for pallor and thinness can be noted, but in the Baroque era, on the contrary, a fashion for corpulence appears (for example, in paintings by Rubens) and for potential fertility.
At the end of last year, an international group of researchers found out that Paleolithic Venuses – small stone figurines from 14 to 38 thousand years old – are not a symbol of the mother goddess and fertility, as previously thought, but the ideas of ancient people about beauty and an ideal female figure.
This hypothesis is confirmed by the fact that the fattest figurines were found closest to the glaciers, where food was less and it was obtained with great difficulty.
Standards of female beauty
Nowadays, “haute couture” continues to advertise the standard of female beauty as being extremely thin, very tall, with a very narrow waist and long legs. A woman should have a graceful figure, photogenicity and have the famous parameters 90-60-90.
In 2011, employees of the Southern Federal University conducted a study of the essence of female beauty for the first time. The study participants were asked to answer questions about whether they have an ideal of a beautiful woman and whom they consider to be their ideal.
As a result of the survey, it turned out that for the majority of respondents, beauty has a specific visual image of real people. About 30% pointed to the collective image of a beautiful woman, created under the influence of models replicated on television.
More often than others, those surveyed named Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Angelina Jolie.
When describing the standard of female beauty, a large proportion of those surveyed described her as slender, with long hair and big eyes. Women noted such important factors as external neatness and grooming, as well as neatness.
Men attached more importance to hair and eye color. When analyzing photographs of famous people, named as the ideal of beauty, the following picture emerged: this is a brunette with large, bright, expressive eyes, of average build and with a proportional figure.
Beauty and hormones
However, the preferences of women are changing quickly enough, British researchers note. And often it depends on the level of sex hormones, which fluctuates depending on the phases of the menstrual cycle.
So, during ovulation, the fairer sex is more like partners with very masculine features – a large chin, a heavy jaw and a wide forehead.
However, other studies do not support these findings. In an experiment by scientists from the University of Glasgow, the participants generally also considered masculine faces more attractive, but this did not correlate in any way with their hormone levels.
There is another concept in the theory of evolution, which helps to understand why we have a sense of beauty. It is called the idea of ”sensory displacement” or “sensory drive”.
A living being, first of all, needs to survive and leave offspring, so our perception should be selective – most quickly it should select from the surrounding world the information that we need for survival and reproduction.
If our perception were all-encompassing, objective and non-selective, this would require very large resources of our body and ultimately would be ineffective.
The well-known Russian biologist and popularizer of science, Alexander Markov, said that symmetry is a very reliable “indicator of fitness” for both humans and other animals. The more symmetrical the body and face, the, as a rule, the healthier, stronger the individual, the fewer harmful mutations in his genome.
Symmetry is generally the most important factor that determines whether a person is beautiful or not, as evidenced by numerous experiments.
This is probably why we like objects of the correct shape, and we consider them beautiful, and especially if their symmetry is skillful enough, complex and slightly imperfect – for example, snowflakes. And it is precisely symmetry that, of course, is one of the main motives of the visual arts.
How does the environment affect?
The change in ideas about physical beauty does not depend on hormones, but on external factors, including the kind of people around us, say scientists from the University of Sydney (Australia).
In their experiment, women rated the attractiveness of 60 men from a photo. Every one holding back