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Beauty - the power that rules the world? - Referat

“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” – this is a common saying. By looking at the media or Aldous Huxley’s novel “Brave New World”, one can discover if this is the case. In this text, the role of beauty in our society, as well as the society of the World State, will be discussed.

The media outlines a clear picture of beauty. From a young age, one is taught that people with specific characteristics are considered beautiful. Weight loss and modelling shows force these definitions of beauty into the spectator’s brain, causing one to believe that everything straying from the “norm” is ugly or not worthy. This causes many people to admire others that have the characteristics, presented in the media. In addition, it also plants the idea in one’s brain that one has to change one’s appearance, by undergoing surgery, adhering to specific diets, colouring one’s hair, etc., to be considered beautiful. One hopes to be well-liked and treated better when having achieved to impressively alter one’s appearance, as one believes that beautiful people are treated differently. This is also the case, if one has a look at Linda, whose appearance upsets the World State. The people in the World State find Linda’s normal-aged body hideous. Among the other people in the World State, Linda finds herself to be the only person without firm and flawless skin, therefore be seen as a grotesque monster. Of course, aged bodies are not seen as something completely repulsive in our society, yet one is always moved to buy anti-ageing cream and serums or undergo a procedure of liposuction and face-lifts.

Nevertheless, the idea of beauty is malleable. It is different in every country and culture: While the Western standard of beauty favours a curvy figure, tan skin, a small nose, round eyes and high cheekbones in women, the Asian beauty standard calls women to achieve a thin, dainty figure, pale skin and childlike appearance—furthermore, the definition of beauty changes over time. Previously, women, who were curvy and chubby, were perceived as prettier than very thin women, since one would assume that they were from more affluent households. This shows, that one can never fit into the beauty standard of every single person on the planet, but that someone will always find one beautiful.

In Brave New World, the world controllers have classified the people into castes and one is conditioned to fit into the caste that one is classified into. They have organised the people by their “beauty”, as the Alphas are the most handsome people, while the Epsilons are the shortest and ugliest people. Lenina is a Beta and she is seen as extremely beautiful. Her beauty is awarded a lot of men wishing to go out with her. This also shows the fact that people are drawn to people, who they find beautiful. This is also seen in many studies of our society: People, who are considered beautiful are favoured in employment and reward systems. So, even if one is seen as beautiful in another culture or country,
it could be that one is disfavoured in one’s current position, possibly causing unfair treatment.

These differences in appearance are not the only form of variety in beauty. Furthermore, finding someone to be beautiful can also spring from something different than the force of the media or actual outer appearance. If someone, who does not fit into the idea of beauty, saves someone or invents something that changes the world, they can be considered a hero. This means, that suddenly, one will idealise the person, which causes one to perceive the person as being beautiful and one will be drawn to them. This is also seen in Brave New World when Bernard brings John the Savage from the reservation into the World State. Of course, everyone is drawn to John, because of his uniqueness, but the women are also drawn to Bernard, who was previously ridiculed for being shorter than the average Alpha and therefore never adored. He, who did not fit into the body ideal of his caste, is suddenly seen as beautiful, because of bringing John into the World State. One could assume that it is the same case with politicians. If one feels inspired and agrees with the plans of a politician, the politician seems more likeable. This leads to the person agreeing with the politician, to momentarily find aspects of beauty in the politician’s appearance.

All in all, one can conclude that the media in our modern society, as well as a higher power, such as the World State, heavily influence our image of beauty and how we treat others. Yet, we are always able to find other human characteristics and qualities that can alter our perception of beauty to the extent of we completely forgetting about our ideal image of beauty. This results in the idea that there is no such thing as a clear definition of beauty and that actions still count more than looks.

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