Is Beauty Subjective? Eye of the Beholder or Objective?

  • by Matt Phelps

Many of us have heard phrases such as "beauty is subjective" and "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," but we are unsure how genuine these assertions are.

Beauty's concept may be subjective and objective, yet it can also be different.

In particular, when it comes to things like art, beauty may be evaluated from an objective standpoint.

However, one's perception of beauty is likely to vary from person to person.

Because a person bases whether or not they find a possible mate beautiful on how they feel at the time, attractiveness is a subjective concept.

We may examine anything from a variety of perspectives in order to determine whether or not it has an appealing quality.


1) Artwork

The canons and ratios of the Renaissance developed by da Vinci and others are commonly employed as standards for determining what constitutes beauty.


2) Anthropometric studies

We can calculate the appropriate dimensions for a typical human face by looking at cephalometric norms.

According to this definition, average faces have the fewest number of imperfections.


3) Attractiveness Studies

It is possible for us to directly conduct scientific research in order to find out what individuals react to best.

Although they might have an objective perspective, they do not necessarily concur.

On top of that, the standards of beauty that we hold in our societies and cultures tend to evolve through time.



How Should Beauty Be Defined?

The concept of beauty might be subjectively interpreted differently by different individuals.

In general, a subject's beauty may be found in its qualities or in the emotions it elicits in the viewer.

People may describe beauty in two ways: objectively and subjectively, which should make things a little bit simpler.

People, however, are often unable to identify the accurate one.

Many philosophers have attempted to define beauty.

Although some had ideas that were consistent with one another, there is still a lot of controversy around the subject.

Perhaps the idea that beauty is relative will become more prevalent in our culture.

Despite this, objective beauty standards continue to play a significant role in various contexts, including the evaluation of works of art and the assignment of points in various competitive contexts, such as figure skating.



Is Beauty Objective or Subjective?

Before we can discuss whether or not one person's idea of beauty is more valid than another's, we need to have a firm grasp on the meanings of objective, intersubjective, and subjective forms of beauty.


Beauty in Objectivist Views

An objective viewpoint considers just the facts rather than one's thoughts and emotions and often adheres to predetermined "standards."

When people talk about beauty being objective, they are referring to the quality or trait that an item or a person has that causes other people to feel that it is lovely.

Consider, for illustration, one of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings for a moment.

The picture would be objectively beautiful if it adhered to the criteria that would characterize it as beautiful (detail, colors, etc.), making it an ideal example.

Another illustration of this would be the fluidity with which a skilled basketball player navigates the floor and then effortlessly sinks a shot through the hoop.

The movement, skill, and other aspects of it would be wonderful in their own right.

Plato believed that beauty was an individual trait and had nothing to do with the perceptions of the beholder.

He believed that attractiveness and shape are mental rather than physical concepts.

As a result, the spectator's experience did not play a role, which is why beauty may be subjective.

Aristotle was another individual who held the belief that beauty might be objective, yet, his perspective was distinct from Plato's.

Aristotle determined the nature of beauty by looking at the object in question and analyzing its qualities, such as proportion, symmetry, balance, and order.

According to Aristotle, the criteria should be applied to naturally occurring and artificially produced things.

Therefore, to determine whether or not an item's beauty was a characteristic of the thing, both Plato and Aristotle focused on the object itself.

They did not consider the spectator's viewpoint in any way.

The majority of people can agree on the importance of symmetry in determining what constitutes beauty.

If this were the case, then beauty would be an objective concept since the degree to which a person's face is symmetrical is more of a fact than a sensation.

The same thing may be said about averageness, which is something that anthropometric studies can quantify.


Beauty in Subjective Perspectives

Subjectivity is an approach to thinking that emphasizes human ideas, emotions, and viewpoints rather than objective facts.

Therefore, when someone claims that beauty is subjective, they imply that their personal experiences with the topic decide what constitutes beautiful.

It does not satisfy a predetermined set of requirements in any way.

According to Immanuel Kant, the aesthetic judgment ought to be founded on sentiments, particularly sensations of pleasure, which may be boiled down to personal taste.

Therefore, Immanuel believed that logic and knowledge were insignificant and that beauty was a matter of personal preference.

Therefore, according to Immanuel's thesis, beauty is determined by the operations of the mind.

The features do not determine the attractiveness of the topic that it has.

David Hume believed that beauty was a matter of opinion since it was not the subject's physical attributes that determined its attractiveness but rather the subject's sentiments and emotions.

David's interpretation of the proverb "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" was that different people have different standards by which they judge what constitutes beautiful.

The actual topic of discussion would not be used to determine beauty.

In addition, it is possible that another observer will not feel the same way, which further demonstrates how subjective it is.

Take, for example, that you have a cat with mange.

This cat does not meet the criteria for "beautiful" according to standards of objective beauty.

However, because you have personal sentiments for the cat, it would be difficult for you to confess that the cat is unattractive; hence, the cat would seem more beautiful to you due to the experience you get from having the cat.

Even though we want to believe that we are adept at it, we are not very good at distinguishing between facts and emotions.

We are beings that experience a wide range of emotions.

You can see from the story about the cat that the relevant phrase is "to you."

Your viewpoint is that you like your cat, and since you have such warm sentiments for the animal, you believe it has stunning good looks.

When someone states that another individual "is not their type," they are providing another common illustration of the concept of subjective beauty.

For example, let's imagine you and a lot of other people believed Henry Cavill was a handsome guy.

Many people would agree with you.

However, your pal claims they do not find anything beautiful about Henry Cavill.

It is possible that your buddy may not want to directly imply that Henry Cavill is ugly, but, according to society's beauty standards, he is objectively handsome.

However, your buddy offered you an opinion based on their personal feelings since they did not find him attractive.

As a result, beauty based on one's perception will not adhere to any common standards associated with objective beauty.

A mangy cat that pleases you is just as attractive to you as a pedigreed cat since beauty is a subjective concept.



Differences Between Subjective and Objective Beauty

The subjective and objective conceptions of beauty have compelling reasons to support them.

The first concentrates on the author's experiences, while the second examines the qualities and standards involved.

A plastic surgeon may, for instance, emphasize objective beauty; in this case, they would want to improve your features so that they are seen as more objectively attractive by societal norms.

The plastic surgeon may also concentrate on your subjective beauty if you wish to increase a certain feature to feel more attractive overall.

Another illustration of this would be how a professional dog judge evaluates a show dog.

The judge would be able to maintain objectivity since they adhere to particular criteria that describe the dog's attractiveness according to its breed's standards.

If you have a dog that is a mix of different breeds, there is a chance that a dog judge may not believe your dog is objectively attractive since it does not conform to the requirements of either breed.

Even though your mixed breed dog does not meet any requirements, you may still think he or she is subjectively attractive.

So, one of them is correct, and which is incorrect?

The answer depends on the individual asking the question.

While the majority of people believe that beauty may be both subjective and objective, others hold the view that beauty can only be one of these things.

Although several aspects may easily make beauty objective, beauty tends to lean more on the subjective side.

In general, beauty may be either subjective or objective, but it is often up to individuals to choose how they want to define beauty for themselves.

Others contend that beauty is relative from person to person.

From an early age, people are instructed by their peers, family members, and the media on what is beautiful and what is not beautiful according to the norms of society.

Therefore, we find it appealing in other individuals if they seem comparable to the ideas we have been instilled with.

When we look at someone in the spotlight frequently—for example, whether they are the star of a movie or the cover model for a magazine—we tend to mistake their appearance for attractiveness.

It tends to worsen, particularly when we encounter phrases like "Sexiest Woman Alive" and other phrases that define our concept of beauty.

There will be a variety of perspectives expressed about the question of who is more appealing.

Certain individuals may sometimes believe that one is ugly.

However, if you look at any of these ladies, you will see that they both still meet the criteria for what we have been taught to consider beautiful.

The more a person's look deviates from the "standard" of what is considered attractive, the less beautiful they will be seen as objective.

They may nevertheless be aesthetically pleasing to another individual, provided that they have that opinion.

In addition, the importance of culture cannot be overstated when arguing for the existence of a subjective concept of beauty.

For instance, a lady with a white complexion would be ideal in China.

Tanner skin, on the other hand, is often associated with a more attractive ideal of femininity in Western countries.

In China, a lady with a tan could not be considered lovely by the natives.

However, if the tanned lady traveled to a Western nation, there is a good chance that she will become quite beautiful there.



Is There a Direct Relationship Between Beauty and Attractiveness?

The concept of beauty is completely open to interpretation in terms of its attraction.

It is possible to come across someone stunning from an outsider's perspective.

Yet, you may not want to pursue a romantic relationship with them even if you do since you do not personally feel attracted to them.

Therefore, beauty is a relative concept since individuals have various priorities regarding the qualities they want in a romantic relationship.

The fact that they do not find that individual attractive, although physically attractive, does not make that person any less gorgeous.

It only indicates that physical appeal is not synonymous with physical beauty.

There are a variety of different aspects that might contribute to how other people perceive your level of beauty.

How you communicate, conduct yourself, dress, and other aspects of your appearance may all influence how attractive a person believes you to be.

For example, you could have the physical appearance of someone else's type, which would make them physically attracted to you.

However, it's possible that your personality, your sense of fashion, or other aspects of your appearance aren't to their liking, which will make them find you less appealing.

People are free to ignore certain aspects, but the fact that they can demonstrate that beauty is a relative concept.



Cultural Beauty Standards

The concept of beauty may shift significantly from one culture to another.

What one culture considers to be attractive may not be considered so in another nation.

For instance, most individuals in both the United States and Europe tend to like tanned skin since it gives the appearance of being healthy and active.

On the other hand, nations in East Asia, such as China, South Korea, and Japan, have a strong preference for people with a pale complexion.

Many people in East Asia believed that having light skin indicated that you were from a better social class and that you were exempt from having to labor in the fields.

This is an attitude that is still prevalent in many nations across Asia.

A tanned complexion and curvy shape are considered Brazil's pinnacle of female beauty.

The majority of Africans have a preference for women who have fuller shapes and bigger bodies.

The majority of East Asian beauty standards for women include attributes such as height, slimness, and fairness. In contrast, beauty standards in Brazil and Africa are quite a little different.

It is essential to keep in mind that members of a certain culture may nevertheless find attractive someone who does not conform to their preferred "beauty standard," even if this may seem counterintuitive.

To a large extent, it comes down to personal choice, yet everyone admires certain qualities.



What Is Universally Beautiful?

Everyone may admire certain characteristics.

Again, some individuals may not agree with these characteristics being attractive (for example, some males may prefer dating younger women).

However, most people tend to feel that the characteristics listed below are beautiful.



Regarding women, youthfulness is almost always considered to be one of the most appealing "features."

This information is covered in depth on a separate page on our website.

There is a widespread misconception that youth is synonymous with fertile potential.

For example, Coetzee et al. 2012 study on African attitudes toward female beauty indicated that respondents thought that youthfulness was an appealing trait in women.

Numerous more studies that looked at people of various ethnicities came to the same conclusion: most males prefer women who seem younger.

There is a correlation between actual age and fertility.

However, many individuals subconsciously prefer younger-looking women because they give off the impression that they might easily have children.

It's probably related to evolution and our basic drive to have offspring.


Facial Symmetry

Perfectly symmetrical faces are inherently more appealing to a large number of individuals.

The symmetry of the face is considered beautiful in many different cultures.

A high degree of face symmetry is believed by some experts to be associated with good health.

The fact that everyone's genes should generate perfectly symmetrical faces may have inspired the belief that health and symmetry go hand in hand.

The symmetry will gradually deteriorate as we mature, become older, get ill or wounded, and for various other reasons.

A healthy immune system may be inferred from the appearance of a person with a symmetrical face with minimal flaws.

Most individuals will instinctually desire this since they want their children to inherit these genes.

Another possible explanation is that fewer "distractions" exist on the face, making it more aesthetically pleasing to the viewer.

The significance of facial symmetry in terms of beauty was investigated in one of several research studies on the topic (Rhodes et al., 1998). In order to achieve the desired degree of symmetry, the researchers used photographs of people's faces.

The researchers found that increasing face symmetry led to an improvement in attractiveness.

The fact that the researchers found that decreasing symmetry harmed beauty indicates that symmetry is related to attraction.


Clear Skin

Clear skin is often a good indicator of a person's overall health and hygiene.

Even if a person may have acne owing to various factors, such as allergies, our first assumption when we see someone with a significant amount of acne is that they are not healthy and do not keep themselves clean.

Researchers from Jaeger et al. looked at how the smoothness of face skin and the presence of imperfections influenced initial perceptions.

The researchers used picture editing software to alter the smoothness of the skin and the number of imperfections that appeared on the subjects' faces.

The researchers discovered that individuals were sensitive to skin imperfections because skin blemishes might suggest infectious illness or poor health.

The researchers observed that people were sensitive to skin blemishes.

The researchers also discovered that skin with imperfections had a more significant impact on initial impressions than skin with no noticeable flaws.


Average Faces

Numerous studies have shown that average looks are, on average, beautiful.

This may be because typical looks are "just right"; they appeal to the eye without overpowering characteristics.

In addition, most individuals have a natural tendency to discover beautiful things already known to them.

Therefore, a person who seems unremarkable in your nation may be considered rather lovely.

After digitizing male and female faces, Langlois et al., 1990 took an overall mathematical average of the results.

They solicited opinions from mature individuals.

According to the findings, the adults preferred the averaged faces instead of the individual ones.


Sexual Dimorphism

The development of traits in both sexes that separate them from the other sex is an example of the phenomenon known as sexual dimorphism.

Ladies prefer masculine men, while men adore feminine women.

This is something that needs no explanation.

Nevertheless, Isabel M. Scott and her colleagues (2014) have shown that even this may have cultural implications.

There is less of a desire among males to have feminized faces in non-Westernized nations because people believe that men with masculinized looks are likelier to be violent.

Both youth and sexual dimorphism work together to create a healthy equilibrium.




Thanks for reading my article on is beauty subjective. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends - thanks!

Matt Phelps- founder of Jawline Gum

   Matt Phelps

    YouTuber & Founder of STEEL


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