Human beings’ opinions vary in almost every aspect of life. When you think of “beautiful”, everyone has different traits that come to mind. Some people prefer blue eyes and blonde hair, some like of a darker complexion and some can appreciate a multitude of looks. While these differences in what is viewed as attractive can range, why are some people internationally accepted as beautiful? You’re going to have a hard time arguing that Cindy Crawford, Christie Brinkley, Miranda Kerr, Robert Redford or Zac Efron isn’t attractive. Here’s why:
The Ancient Greeks were one of the first civilizations to think about the standards of beauty and just exactly why some people were considered beautiful by all. It was Greek philosopher Plato who came up with certain proportions known at the time as the “golden proportions.” While most modern day civilizations no longer think of these specifics as the standard of beautiful, this sparked the idea that universally, some people are just more attractive. Nowadays, studies have shown that a symmetrical face is the number one feature that people find attractive. Babies are more likely to stare at a picture of a symmetric face as opposed to an asymmetric one. A study done at New Mexico State University found that when people rated faces on attractiveness on a scale from one to ten, all the faces rated “ten” were very symmetrical. This love for symmetry is not just baked into the biology of humans, but also animals. Swallows have been found to prefer mates with more symmetric tails and female zebra finches were found more likely to mate with other finches that have symmetrically colored leg rings.
While this attraction to symmetry is pretty universal, there are very specific features in Western civilization that have been consistently seen as beautiful. Studies have shown that men often prefer a smaller nose and jaw, chiseled cheekbones and big eyes on women while women like heart shaped faces with a small chin, light skin and big lips. Both of these profiles matches what is known as a “baby face” and the reason people find these youthful faces attractive is because a baby face suggests a strong life partnership and promising reproductive success.
There are also things that are not necessarily physical that are thought of as attractive. Kindness and friendliness have been found to play a key role in what is seen at beautiful. A study done at college found that 70% of students thought a professor was attractive when he acted in a friendly way as opposed to only 30% that did when he was acting in a stand-offish way.
These standards of beauty have changed immensely throughout the years and will continue to change. Who knows what people will consider “beautiful” in 30 years!