Beauty and the Beholder, Part Two

Hillary Smith

I’m going to pick up where I left off in my last post: Discussion of Differing Perceptions of Beauty, Part Two.

Last week, I wrote about the evolution of societal perception of the perfect female figure. This week, I’m going to discuss the differing perceptions of female attractiveness between women and men.

This article on the Daily Mail explains the results of a beauty survey in which men and women were told to construct their ideal face out of various features from female celebrities. The results are stunningly different. For women, beauty means long dark hair, thick, full eyebrows, a more prominent nose and forehead, and narrow bone structure. For men, beauty means long blonde hair, more toned-down eyebrows, smaller nose and forehead, and full lips-Angelina Jolie’s, to be precise.

What do we even make of this?

Something tells me it’s a tad shallow to conclude, “Men prefer blondes after all!” Or, “I need to stop filling in my eyebrows so heavily, that must be why I’m still single!” I mean, let’s be real.

What I found interesting when I looked at these two images was that I immediately thought, “What are the men thinking? The woman made by the women is so much more attractive than the woman made by the men! How can they think that’s more beautiful than that?”

Then I reminded myself, “Hillary, this is why you’re writing a post on this. You are attempting to analyze exactly why you just had the reaction you did.”

The thing is, I don’t know why I had the reaction I did. I don’t know what causes men and women to look at each other differently. I’m sure that would be fascinating scientific research. But, as I am not a scientist, I cannot definitively proclaim the cause of these differing perceptions. What I can proclaim is simply this: it shouldn’t matter.

Obviously, not every straight man in the world ends up with a woman who looks like the manufactured woman in the survey. So it’s not as if every straight woman should look at that picture and say, “Oh, well, I don’t look like that. Guess I’m never getting the attention of a man.” I think it is extremely interesting that men and women express such different ideas of beauty when prompted. But women already put a dangerous amount of consideration into their physical appearance. Most of the time, it is because they don’t feel like they live up to the standards that others are holding for them, or that they are holding for themselves. They want to fit in with their peers. They want to appear attractive to a love interest. This obsession with physical appearance has proven to be unhealthy and, in many cases, harmful. We do not need women looking at this survey and further convincing themselves that they do not look “the right way.”

What we should take away from this survey is that women should never change themselves to attract a man, because clearly, we have very different ideas on what attractive means. We need to accept that every human being looks different. We do not want to look the same. That would make everything terribly boring. It’s cliché, I know, but honestly this is really all about accepting ourselves. We look the way we do, and we don’t need a survey to tell us whether or not our looks are the right looks, because that concept should not even exist.