David Brooks's Article: What Is Beauty?

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What is beauty? I have heard this question many times. I have heard the judge ask the contestant at a beauty pageant on television. I have heard professors ask us students in thought-invoking classes. I have heard it inside my head, my own inner voice, asking myself at night when I am left alone and the deep questions start coming in. What is beauty? And how are we to criticize or judge if one possess beauty or not? When I am asked the question “what is beauty,” my immediate thought would be of women. I am a woman myself but here I am, subconsciously equating women into mere objects to be judge whether beautiful or not. I know that many are like me: influenced by the patriarchal society and made to think of women, of ourselves, as objects…show more content…
Of course, one can never truly escape from the influence of society. A person is born and raised with the beliefs and customs of society, and it will always be a part of someone and will always influence how one thinks, how one reacts, how one speaks, and how one acts. But one may try to supress that immediate thought, the product of society’s influence, and think and react according to one’s new set of ideas. So what is beauty? In the first few paragraphs of his article, David Brooks describes the ballet dancers across his street as “arrestingly beautiful” because it “exposes the limitations of the normal, banal streetscape” he takes “for granted every day.” If we are to define beauty according to his thoughts, then beauty is something that stands out from the mundane or something that makes us realize the banality. This is a problematic definition because there are many things that may stand out from a boring background that will make us realize that that background is boring that is not necessarily beautiful, at least according to certain standards set by a culture. For example, a splash of neon green paint on an ordinary gray, stone wall. It catches one’s attention, it stands out from the dullness. But that does not necessarily mean that the splash of neon green paint is beautiful. It is simply eye-catching and nothing…show more content…
So beauty is something that is pleasing to the senses. Perhaps music that is pleasing to the ears, or art that pleases the eyes. But again, there is a problem. If we follow this definition, beauty is subjective. What is beautiful and what is not beautiful will change according to the person being asked. What is pleasing to one’s senses may be different to another’s. What is pleasing to a person’s senses is shaped and influenced by that person’s society and culture. For example, Filipinos find pale or light skin attractive because during the colonial period, those who belong in the upper classes were the light skinned: the Spaniards, the mestizos and mestizas, and the Americans. (Gonzales) However, some cultures such as the Americans and Europeans prefer tanned skin because pale skin meant little sun exposure in beach vacations. (Hutchison) See how the perception of beauty changes from one culture to another? But why is it important to define beauty? Why do we need to know other cultures’ standards of beauty? Because if we are to criticize a “work of art,” we need to think of this things. What are the maker’s standards of beauty? Did his or her culture influence the way he or she created the

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