Research essay about the sociology and psychology of american beauty culture.

Essay by purplepeopleeaterUniversity, Bachelor'sA, June 2003

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Beauty Culture:

A Sociological View of Women and Their Ongoing Pursuit of the Perfect Appearance

The desire to appear attractive is universal to human beings and it permeates throughout history and in all parts of the world. Both men and women have gone to great lengths to beautify themselves and be seen as attractive. Although the desire to be beautiful may well be universal, what is considered beautiful is not. Beauty is said to be "in the eye of the beholder," and the definition of beauty depends on one's culture and socialization.

Many ancient societies believed that changing a specific body part made them beautiful. Grecians, Romans and Egyptians elongated their heads. Chinese women tightly bound their feet so that the foot would become deformed. This was a very long and painful process, but the end result was a very small, curved foot, which the Chinese found beautiful. Some African tribes use scarification to beautify themselves as well as indicate social status.

The women of these tribes practice other customs to indicate their social statuses. They wear metal rings around their necks and gradually add rings to stretch the neck. The more rings a woman wears, the higher her status among other tribe members. Though these practices sound unusual to the American culture, they are actually quite similar to some of our own methods of beautification.

Although there is no clear definition as to what Americans believe to be the ideal beauty, symmetries of facial features, body weight, and age all have a bearing on what Americans use to judge beauty.

An online survey about people's perception of beauty in relationship to facial symmetry shows three face shots of different people. The first is a picture of a young woman, the second a small child and the...