A Brief History of Beauty

Beauty is often defined as the subjective quality of individual characteristics that make these characteristics enjoyable to see. These individual characteristics may be in the form of physical attractiveness, bodily traits or facial expressions. The beauty of a person can be objectively measured by an objective source such as a mirror. This definition excludes beauty from the realm of culture and tradition and puts it in its own category of an aesthetic quality.


In some ways, beauty has been seen as a European invention, since the earliest European settlers reached America and set up colonies there. The European ideal of beauty was closely linked to their political and social philosophies of the day. These philosophers drew their philosophy from the Bible and established various social and moral standards of beauty that were to be followed in everyday life. These standards were used to distinguish between “the ugly and the beautiful”, between “good” and “bad” and between “more beautiful” and “less beautiful”. Such standards became the foundations of many peoples’ ideas of beauty, making these ideas politically and socially influential over time.

According to some scholars, the term beauty originated with ancient Greek theater when the artists tried to imitate the works of the ancients in order to make their dramas more appealing to the spectators. This is the origin of the idea of beauty that was considered beautiful by Greeks and Romans. Greeks and Romans did not view beauty as merely the physical aspect of something beautiful. Instead, they considered beauty to be a mental state that could be attained by proper training and self-discipline. This was the only way for them to achieve beauty and to overcome the physical ills that were present in their time. They also wanted to create a Greek ideal of beauty which was far beyond the limitations of their culture.