How do we recognize beauty in other people? On a very superficial level, we compare the people we see to the media images that we have been exposed to-the people in movies and on magazine covers. If you see a woman who looks very similar to a famous actress or model, you will probably think that woman is beautiful.
We base many of our personal opinions on society’s beauty standards, although we may not do so on purpose. As highly social creatures, we can hardly help ourselves from caring about what other people think-and wanting to agree with them. If we are told repeatedly that certain traits-such as being thin or having high cheek bones or big eyes-are beautiful, we naturally find ourselves agreeing and seeing those traits as beautiful.
But this human habit presents a problem. If we prize beauty so much, while having such narrow standards, that means that we define a proportionally small number of people as beautiful. If you happen to be in that narrow group, you’re probably as happy as can be. But if you’re not, you might find yourself depressed and unhappy with your appearance.
It’s important to remember that society’s narrow standard of beauty is not the only standard that exists. If you really think about it, you can probably think of people that don’t fit society’s standard but that you think are attractive. How does that work? The answer is simple: you have an individual standard of beauty that probably strays from society’s standard in some way.
Which brings us to the good news: everyone has an individual standard of beauty! Despite all of the programming of our society, we all still see other people in unique ways. That’s an encouraging thought for those who wouldn’t be considered beautiful by society’s narrow standards.
It’s encouraging because it means that whatever you look like, you’re likely to fit someone’s standard of beauty. Those who love you undoubtedly recognize your attractive traits already and are able to see you as beautiful.
All this is important to remember when you’re looking for a mate. Just because one potential mate doesn’t find you beautiful is no reason to despair. Keep looking, and before you know it, you will find someone who does find you beautiful.
Remember that society’s standards of beauty change with the shifting of the winds. You never know what kind of trait will be attractive next season, and in the meantime, you can enjoy the company of people who appreciate your particular features.