The concept of beauty was discussed in considerable detail during the first Allergan Medical Institute meeting that I attended in London recently. Extensive surveys have been carried out in different countries with both women and men, from different age groups and ethnicities, regarding what motivates them to have aesthetic treatment and what they expect the outcome to be. The answers differ from country to country and typical answers include:
I want to look my best.
“I want to look less tired.”
“I want to feel good about myself.”
“I don’t want to look younger, just better.”
In several countries, women want to look better because appearance is tied to social status. Interestingly in at least one of the countries surveyed, one of the most common responses was:
“To help me find a rich husband.”
Despite the diversity of the response, the main reason that people seek treatment boils down to the desire to look better, in other words, more beautiful.
It is often said: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but is it? There is absolutely no doubt beauty has a significant cultural component. However,the international experts and I unanimously share the view a universal standard of beauty exists that is much more objective and hard wired into our brain. We all acknowledge beauty instinctively; for example, any of us can spot a beautiful face in a crowd. It only takes milliseconds for our brain to process attractiveness; the perceiver’s eyes rapidly scan the entire face while the brain analyzes contours, shapes, features, and skin quality. It is not just beautiful faces that we cherish, we appreciate beauty in all its glory, be it natural scenery, architecture, fashion, even the way food is presented on our plate. All the evidence so far, supports the view that our brain is hard-wired to recognise beauty, and that there may be universal standards of beauty. In a nutshell, we know beauty when we see it. Defining the parameters of beauty however proves much more difficult.
Are there universal standards of beauty that applies? Are they cross cultural? I believe so. I’ll talk about why in my next blog…
Photo Caption – From left, Dr Ingrid Tall, Dr Eddie Roos, Dr Alison Jamison, Dr Tracey King, Dr Bernard Leung in front of Dr Samuel Johnson’s House, London