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Beauty And Body Image

This year I decided to follow a theme for my Blogs: Beauty and Body Image. The subject of beauty has been a point of rigorous contention for literally millennia. How do we, as humans, define beauty? Is beauty internal, external, both or neither? And I find the deepest question to be, what is the value of beauty identification anyway?

Dr. Anjan Chatterjee, at a recent TEDMED Talk, presented a scientific explanation about “How Your Brain Decides What is Beautiful”. It is a truly fascinating and informative justification addressing the concepts of health, symmetry and hormones.


The Doctor posits that the popular notion identifying our interpretation of beautiful people as being healthier and therefore a better choice for procreation, may not be the whole story of attraction. The idea that the actual symmetry of facial features triggers pleasure centers in the brain is also offered. In other words, those individuals whose facial features are the most symmetrical, attract more partners. He relates the practice of measuring symmetry with mechanical devices, gave rise to the cosmetics empire founded by Max Factor (Maksymillian Faktorwicz), a beautician from Poland.

Finally, Dr. Chatterjee speaks to the idea that hormones drive our sexual selection based on those individuals who look the most like us. For example, a person from Central Asia is attracted to the beauty associated with those who look most like herself/himself. This predilection would lead to increasing the populations closest to us, our neighbors, our nations, etcetera. As a result, that specific population would grow and therefore make it more powerful on the worldwide stage.

Fascinating stuff, right. However, Dr. Chatterjee is limiting his discussion to the narrow definition that beauty is externally defined. What about internal beauty? How about seeing beauty as behavioral? How does the concept of beauty affect how we feel about ourselves?

I think I’ll save those discussions for future Blogs.

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