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What Makes People Attractive to Others?

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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What Makes People Attractive to Others?

The definition of “attractive” from is “…providing pleasure or delight, especially in appearance or manner; pleasing; charming; alluring; arousing interest.” What makes someone attractive to another person is different for everyone. It could be a look or smell, or the way someone laughs. As a young woman in college, I have met many men to whom I have been attracted. What makes a person attractive? One thing is for certain, it will not be the same reason for any two people.
Attraction is not universal. One woman may think Johnny Depp is gorgeous and another may think there is no one uglier, which is why we as a society frequently say, “Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder.” Stereotypes, too, can effect one’s perception of what or who is attractive. If you fit into certain stereotypes it can broaden one’s appeal to some, while decreasing one’s appeal to others.
Media, movies and television have caused stereotypes to explode throughout the world. If we believe what we see and hear, then skinny, beautiful women are the only ones who get boyfriends. Guys with “six pack” abs and great hair are the only ones who get girlfriends. When we see this over and over in movies, television, and advertising, we start to believe it is true. So, people start going on diets because one never sees a chubby girl or guy walking down the runway, or getting the guy or girl in the end. Girls start wearing more makeup to cover up perfectly beautiful faces. Guys start wearing clothes they do not like because what they wore before wasn’t portrayed as attractive in the media. We are trained by the media, television, and movies at an early age to know how our society defines physical attractiveness.
Everyone has seen a Disney movie or read a story about a beautiful princess, who falls in love with a prince. The princess is always skinny, with perfect hair. The authors of “The Beauty Myth is no Myth” say this is not a new concept. According to authors, from the beginning of storytelling, female physical attractiveness has always been more important than male attractiveness. This is a world-wide view. In every culture around the world the attractiveness of a female is highly important (Beauty Myth). Now there are TV shows that tell us that we need to change everything about ourselves to makes us beautiful. One such show is a recent cultural phenomenon called “Toddlers in Tiaras.” Parents put their children into pageants where they are ”transformed” into beautiful, little girls. “In reality they are presented as highly sexual women 3 times their age,”(Toddlers in Tiaras). They get spray tans, flippers on their teeth, eyebrow waxing, and extremely expensive clothing. Then, they are forced to wear tons of make-up put on and their hair abused with coloring, teasing, curling, and hairspray. Their mothers ply the girls with adult beverages such as red bull, coca cola, and mountain dew, often referred to as “special or magic juice.” This behavior shows their daughters that they are only beautiful if they are unrecognizable, and objectifies young girls into potentially sexualized representations of ideal beauty. Television is telling us the only way we are beautiful is if no one can see what we really look like. What we really look like is not what the world wants to see.
Hundreds of years ago women were thought to be beautiful if they had round, full bodies (Body Weight and Beauty). In paintings, women were depicted as pale, round, soft bodies, with what we would today consider a plain face. Obviously the standard of beauty at that time was considerably different then it is today. Today, the standard of beauty is women like Kate Moss, Giselle Bundchen, or Angelina Jolie, all of whom are world famous for being extremely thin. Yet, women such as Melissa McCarthy, Adele, or Kate Winslet are told they need to lose weight to be fully beautiful. They have beautiful faces, so why are their bodies unattractive? When did it become ideal to look like a skeleton? After WWII, advertising and movies started depicting extremely skinny figures, such as 1960’s icon Twiggy (Body Weight and Beauty). This may well have been the advent of public consciousness about eating disorders and what made women believe they were undesirable if they packed a little weight.
The world we live in today has an attitude of, “If you don’t like it fix it,” and “You can have everything for a cost.” Keeping this in mind things like eating disorders or people’s obsessions with plastic surgery doesn’t seem unusual. Some women have a view of what they think they should look like. They see a celebrity or watch a TV show, and they think they are not nearly as attractive. So they starve themselves so they can lose that last bit of fat that is making them unattractive. Their view of themselves is so low that they believe the only way they can be beautiful is if they completely change their bodies.
In a book, when you read about a person, you get a picture in your mind of what he or she look like. But if that person is evil throughout the whole book does your view change? According to the article “More Than Just Skin Deep?,” personality is a key factor of what others find physically attractive. This person may have perfect skin and body and a flawless face but that is not a reflection of their character. For example in the movie “Gone With the Wind,” Scarlet O’Hara is physically beautiful in every way but she is shallow and self-centered. In the case of Scarlett others over look her flaws because of her physical beauty, and it is only when her character is questioned by Rhett Butler and she is forced to confront her personal short comings that she becomes a truly beautiful person.
In contrast to Scarlett is Princess Fiona from Shrek who is forced to conceal her true self with beauty. Only when Fiona’s true form is revealed is she able to find true love with Shrek. In this case her “beauty” was an impediment to her attractiveness.
In the end, what makes a person physically attractive? We cannot know what appeals to every individual, but we can conclude that someone who is confident in who he or she is and is kind is infinitely more attractive than someone who is insecure and takes it out on others. The media has made us think that we should look and dress a certain way to be beautiful, but that is not true. If anything the more we act like individuals, the more attractive we become.

Works Cited

Engeln-Maddox, Renee. "Buying A Beauty Standard Or Dreaming Of A New Life? Expectations Associated With Media Ideals." Psychology Of Women Quarterly 30.3 (2006): 258-266. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.
Bonafini, B. A., and P. Pozzilli. "Body Weight And Beauty: The Changing Face Of The Ideal Female Body Weight." Obesity Reviews 12.1 (2011): 62-65. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.
Martin J. Tovee, et al. "More Than Just Skin Deep? Personality Information Influences Men's Ratings Of The Attractiveness Of Women's Body Sizes." Journal Of Social Psychology 150.6 (2010): 628-647. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.
Gottschall, Jonathan. "The “Beauty Myth” Is No Myth." Human Nature 19.2 (2008): 174-188. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.
HOLLANDSWORTH, SKIP. "Toddlers In Tiaras." Good Housekeeping 252.8 (2011): 150-194. Academic Search Premier. Web. 9 Mar. 2012.…...

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