What Is Beauty?

We tend to think of beauty in terms of how it looks or what it does for us. But that view is often limited. Throughout history, our idea of beauty has changed. During the Renaissance, plumpness was a sign of wealth, while “heroin chic” waifs were considered beautiful. Today, the concept of beauty is more rational than ever and boiled down into models and formulas. Let’s explore this question further.


A classic conception of beauty consists of the arrangement of a series of integral parts that create a unified whole. This concept is the most primordial conception of beauty in Western thought and is reflected in classical and neo-classical art. According to Aristotle in his Metaphysics and Poetics, “Beauty is order, and order is beauty.” As such, beauty is defined as an aesthetic experience that provides the viewer with meaning and pleasure.

As the definition of beauty continues to evolve, so too does the vocabulary surrounding it. Objectification of beauty has become gender-specific and often reflects the ideals of a particular class, race, religion, or even race. The word “beautiful” was introduced to describe the physical appearance of the aristocrat. It is now used to denote the qualities of a woman that has a great deal of sexual desire or a woman that has a sexy body.