What is Beauty?

Portraits from the photo book Atlas of Beauty by Mihaela Noroc (Atlas of Beauty)

Yesterday, I watched a Youtube video with a bunch of Danish people. I noticed they all had strong jawlines, so I looked up why Europeans have strong jaw lines. I learned that our looks are dependent on survival traits. We have a society based on beauty and perfection, but it makes no sense because what is beauty and perfection? Our looks are all so different, because we all have very different ancestry and ethnic backgrounds that shape our evolution and genetics, aka our looks. Our noses, eyes, lips, jaw lines, height, width is all dependent on our ancestors’ environments. Whatever trait was needed to survive was what we adapted to… so why do we have one standard of beauty? How we define beauty? and honestly who cares?!

The idea of beauty is so complex, because it’s not only based on our own cultures. It’s also based on colonialism and white conquering. Every culture has one way that their people are being called ugly for things they can’t control, for genes that aren’t even part of their genetics, and for traits that don’t even help them survive in their environment. For example, in many Asian cultures a woman with white skin and larger eyes is seen as the most beautiful. In places like Africa and India, women go to lengths of bleaching their skin so it gets lighter. A transnational beauty company named Lancome sells “brightening soft cream” for $90 per ounce on their website. The idea of white beauty expands beyond our own horizons and affects hundreds and millions of women. These women are taught and grown up to believe they’re not beautiful by society’s standards, but maybe society was never right in the first place.

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