Beauty is a term widely used to describe a particular aesthetic quality of a subject or objects which makes these objects enjoyable to see. These objects may include sunsets, landscapes, beautiful people and artistic works of art. Beauty, along with beauty and art, is perhaps the most important area of aesthetics, among the various branches of art history.
The term beauty as a general term, however, tends to imply a commonality between all the aesthetic experiences a person has. Aesthetics, art, music and culture all share a common aesthetic experience which critics and historians have labeled as beauty. But there are two broad schools of thought on what beauty actually is. The first school of aesthetic theory describes beauty as the totality of a certain reality, while the other school of aesthetic theory describes beauty as a subjective experience only possible to the beholder. There are also many areas where the term beauty is used, but they are not limited to any of these definitions.
In the last century, the prevailing school of aesthetic philosophy believed that beauty was determined by a particular criterion. This criterion took the form of a ladder, from lowest to highest, and was called the aesthetic scale. This ladder began with the human body, running down from the epidermis, covering everything from the iris of the eye to the skin beneath the fingernails, continuing on through the limbs and ending at the toes. It then went on to cover the environment, beginning with the visible world and proceeding until it reached the animal kingdom, including birds, fish and insects. The aesthetic scale was seen to have four levels, each correlating to a different standard of beauty, like beauty in the face and body, beauty in the form of nature and so on.
From this starting point, aesthetic theory believed that beauty could be attained by manipulating or modifying one’s physical attributes, and that this process was achieved by eliminating what was injurious to beauty and beautifying what was beneficial. If there were no impurities, beauty would prevail throughout the world. The first step to getting rid of impurities was to remove the cause of their presence; this required deodorants and other such products, and was done in the name of public health, although the real objective was to reduce malignant melanoma, which was the most dangerous form of skin cancer at the time.
In the last century, the process has been slowed down considerably because of changes in public opinion and in medical technology. Fewer people consider malignant melanoma to be Beautiful. For those who have malignant melanoma, the most common treatment involves the removal of the mole or freckle, often followed by radiation therapy. Other methods may include surgery, dermabrasion, lymph node dissection and laser surgery. As long as the impurities are removed from the skin, then there is no longer a need to consider beauty as an issue, and people can pursue their desires unhindered.
Does beauty make us feel good? It certainly depends on the person viewing the beauty; for some it is merely a cosmetic issue, whereas for others it is an issue of their moral sense. We should not allow people to define our value based on their personal assessment of our beauty. Beauty may be defined as something that is not just physically appealing, but also something that makes a person feel good about themselves and their existence. Is beauty really something subjective, or does it have a deeper purpose?