Beauty and identity

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An examination of the history of fashion would recognize the mirror wherein the exchange of ideals and values of any society at any given time are actively reflected. The dialectic borne from such an exchange is where we may observe gender, but never individual identity - for it is corollary that this dialectic would eventuate a series of renderings through the lens of the imagination: images. These images, comprised of meticulously orchestrated elements, are the concentrated manifestation of the ideal, which, though may at times parallel reality, cannot be called a true representation. They are divorced from reality and cannot therefore be substituted for it. In terms of identity, this means that the images created through fashioning do not contribute to, or signify, ones true interiority. This disconnect, as will be explored in this essay, can be observed lucidly through the image of beauty, whereby the external (the physical) and the internal (the moral) are often inextricably associated. Originating in Socrates, who in Plato’s Phaedrus prays to the deities: “give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one” (Plato. and Jowett, n.d.), the entanglement of interior and exterior beauty becomes ensconced within culture. Ironically, it is also where the notion is proven to be specious, as Plato describes Socrates’ countenance in his Symposium as “the carved head of Silenus” while he exclaims of his personality “what temperance there is residing within!” (Plato. and Jowett, n.d.). The sentiment nevertheless weathered the various periods that would ensue, constant in radiating its influence on western perceptions of beauty. From Thomas Aquinas whose thoughts on proportion in forms applied to both the ... ... middle of paper ... ...ett, B. (n.d.). Phaedrus. 1st ed. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg. Plato., and Jowett, B. (n.d.). Symposium. 1st ed. Champaign, Ill.: Project Gutenberg. Plutarchus., and Hunter, R. (2011). Plutarch: How to Study Poetry (De Audiendis Poetis). 1st ed. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Sanmartino, G. (1753). The Veiled Christ. [Marble]. Serrano, A. (1987). Piss Christ. [Photograph]. Thomas, (1473). Summa theologica. 1st ed. [Padua]: A. de Stendal. Wesley, J. (1827). The Works of the Rev. John Wesley: The doctrine of original sin, and tracts on various subjects of polemical divinity. 9th ed. Harvard University: J. & J. Harper. Why Beauty Matters. (2009). [film] United Kingdom: BBC. Wilde, O. (1885). The Philosophy of Dress. The New York Tribune, [online] p.9. Available at: [Accessed 1 Jun. 2014].
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