Monday, October 4, 2010

Beauty or Fashion In the Eye of the Beholder?

American Model/Actress Megan Fox

The below article was written specifically for Breakfast at Dior by my friend and psychology student Amanda Gibby. In return I am writing her Myers Briggs Typology fashion profiles, which I will be linking to on here. If you're into personality tests or psychology you'll want to check out Amanda's blog.

Written by Blogger Amanda of Psychology Fitness

Fashion is the true “in the eye of the beholder” classifier. At least, fashion is more so than beauty. Think about it. What you consider fashionable may be wretched, poor taste, or just plain boring to whomever happens to be sitting next to you in the break room. Fashion is able self-expression, and adopting designer trends you can fully identify with.

On the other hand beauty, despite many misconceptions and urban folklore, is much less subjective than we like to preach. Many a Reassurer has been heard spouting the phrase: “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder.” In many classes I have sat through, I’ve heard professors speaking of beauty being perceived differently across cultures. Yet when it comes down to actual research studies based on empirical data, beauty is standardizable cross culturally. In said studies, beauty is measurable and quantifiable by criteria such as spatial averages, bilateral symmetry, and large differences between a female look and a male look. And results were produced time and time again, pointing to what most mothers want to protect their children from hearing: beauty is objectifiably measurable, across cultures; people across the world tend to agree on what is considered beautiful.

Indian Model/Actress Aishwarya Rai

At the same time, these studies involved two dimensional pictures of faces- not face-to-face with live subjects. Therefore, these studies do not account for such factors as intrinsic beauty. Still, the phrase “Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder” indicates that from one person to the next, views of what is beautiful cannot be agreed upon and that is simply not the case. Beauty, even intrinsic beauty, is easily agreed upon, even amongst members of different cultures. Traits like a pleasant demeanor, altruism, and …all make a person more attractive, so to speak.

Take the “Halo Effect” for example. This phenomenon is not only used to describe behavior in the classroom, nor making a good impression when meeting someone for the first time. Unfortunately we as the human race tend to assign a “halo” to those who are more attractive, reportedly. Is this to that individuals’ advantage or disadvantage? Surely higher expectations could have many disadvantages.

Chinese Model/Actress Zhang Ziyi

Fashion, on the other hand, may indeed be better judged in the eye of the beholder. Not all fashions are flattering, yet many fashions are adopted and loved because they are “hot” …Is fashionable the same thing as Beautiful? I say neigh. Does fashion have the potential to create some version of the Halo Effect aforementioned? I say yes, but it is a much more specific phenomenons. Fashionable trend perceptions will depend on the crowd, the surrounding culture, environment, and even outdoor weather for the day.

Mary-kate Olsen: Fashion Leader or Fashion Victim? You decide.

(photos credited to TFS)


~Julls~ said...

I love that leather skirt! Wish I could wear them bare leg during the winter like them!

Dylana Suarez said...

This was such a great post! I loved reading it! Very interesting.

Hope you can enter the giveaway at my blog!

Anonymous said...

just an fyi, beauty in addition to being in the eye of the beholder is also based on facial symmetry and hip to waist ratio! Thus is thought to be a product of our evolutionary history. Attraction and being considered attractive, often implies good or at least compatible genes!!!

Anonymous said...

That was wonderfully written piece. :) Need to check out amana's blog. :)

Love from Toronto, Canada

Lisa said...

Great post accompanied by diverse images of what it means to be beautiful/fashionable in different contexts.

Anonymous said...

A shame you didnt explain what the halo effect is, you dont want your readers to have to wikipedia things in order to understand your point.

Amanda, Psychology Fitness said...

Great Point. The Halo Effect only refers to our tendency to place a metaphoric "Halo" on certain individuals. Usually used to refer to the "teacher's pet."

Anonymous said...

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