Finding Beauty

Should beauty be the goal of art? And why can’t we just love the skin we’re in?

The nature of beauty, and whether it is objective or subjective, is one of the most enduring and debated themes in Western philosophy. Should beauty be the goal of art, or is the conveyance of emotion between the artist and observer the more defining outcome? When we are overcome by natural beauty—majestic mountains, fiery sunsets—is it part social conditioning? Globally, are the standards of beauty always being reset or is beauty a biological adaptation? And what of our fraught relationship with body image? Messages celebrating body diversity are hitting the mainstream, yet 60 percent of teenage girls will stop doing something they love, like a sport, because they don’t like how they look doing it. Why can’t we just love the skin we’re in? Philosophers, fashion and beauty icons, artists, and cognitive psychologists will weigh in on whether beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

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