The subjects of attraction and beauty are topics I have almost always found to be very curious and intriguing, so I was very excited to learn about them in this chapter. Before reading this chapter, I questioned whether our attraction to physical beauty is a disposition we are born with or if it is something that we become more responsive to due to the way our society promotes and idolizes it. I also wonder why people become so obsessed with this idea of physical beauty that they are willing to take extreme measures to obtain it.
In this chapter, I was very surprised to learn that our attraction to beauty is not entirely the result of the culture we are raised in, but it is also due to our human nature. A study described in this chapter found that infants (too young to have been affected by culture’s ...view middle of the document...
We do this because it’s easier for our brain to take a shortcut by imagining an average of all the traits instead of thinking about all the individual traits of each apple we have ever seen. Maybe this is why we are more favorable to beautiful people. Perhaps we like to look at attractive or “average” faces because there is less to process, whereas, looking at someone who has more distinctive facial features makes more work for our brains (and humans don’t like work). I also think this explains why we can become attracted to someone based on familiarity; the more we are exposed to a person, the easier it becomes for the brain to process that the person’s physical features because our brain builds a schema for that person.
Clearly, having an average and symmetrical appearance, contributes to how attractiveness is defined, but I believe it also largely depends on the culture. For example, in the Victorian era, it was considered attractive to have very pale skin, whereas in the present time, many cultures now consider it attractive to be tan. But the question is why are people so obsessed with the idea of being beautiful in today’s culture, that they will take such desperate measures like plastic surgery and starvation as ways to obtain it? I think there are many reasons contributing to this phenomenon, but I think that it largely has to do with the way our media portrays beauty. I believe that the media has made many people fall victim to the what-is-beautiful-is-good stereotype. I feel that today’s movies, music, magazines and television shows are constantly portraying beautiful characters to also be intelligent, outgoing, popular, successful and happy. Since we are constantly being exposed to these stereotypes by the media, it is easy for people to believe that being beautiful is the only way to living a life of happiness.