25 agosto 2009

Miss Universe and beauty psychology

“Beauty is the wisdom of women. Wisdom is the beauty of men” says a Chinese proverb

So Venezuela bagged the Miss Universe crown for the second consecutive year elbowing out Miss Kosovo -- Marigona Dragusha who epitomized sophisticated beauty and the charming Australian Rachael Finch who was the people’s choice.

The panel’s choice Miss Venezuela Stefania Fernandez surprised many.

The psychology of beauty is such a complex subject and it’s quite natural that the one billion viewers who had reportedly watched the event to be sharply divided among the 83 contestants. The reason, however much hackneyed it sounds, is because beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. And each one differs in his or her perception of beauty.

True, beauty pageants have come under stringent criticism by feminists and many other groups as an insult on women’s dignity. The protests have forced the pageant organizations to test the IQ of the finalists by way of questions.

While definition of beauty differs from culture to culture and continent to continent, it is quite obvious that quite a few famous women have emerged as having cross cultural appeal. For instance Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and India’s Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are among those whose looks have charmed both men and women from all continents.

According to beauty psychology one of the key universally accepted standards of beauty is a symmetrical face or one with sharp and also proportionate features. Belgium born Audrey Hepburn, the America’s Jacqueline Kennedy and India’s Aishwarya Rai are genetically blessed with symmetrical faces with well proportionate features. So it is obvious the obsession for symmetrical structures is not limited to stupas, pyramids or other architectural wonders.

Human beings it is learnt is also fascinated by innocence and charm. Audrey Hepburn one may say with her child-like innocence is a classic example of this category of beauties. Women with baby-faced features have a strong fan following among both sexes, especially among women because they don’t feel intimidated by such beauties, according to beauty psychologists. That explains why Audrey Hepburn became a hit among female movie goers over Marilyn Monroe.While these are universal realities, the concept of beauty it is learnt goes through various changes as societies and cultures become more open. After some time, societies tend to look for an element of novelty. As a result today fairer skin is considered attractive in Eastern societies while the West considers darker shades of skin as eye-catching.

While the concept of beauty continues to evolve in many cultures, the exploitation of beauty to woo people for various purposes has been observed throughout history. In the contemporary world, especially in this part of Asia fielding actresses at elections has become a norm. South India is considered a place where this habit is practiced with much vulgarity, with very immature, uneducated and notorious stars and starlets being fielded by some desperate party leaders with the idea of mustering votes. Sri Lanka too it appears is out to replicate the South Indian experience in the southern province of Sri Lanka, unfortunately it is being done by some well consolidated parties.


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