Can we use the psychology behind beauty to enhance how we, and others, perceive our beauty?
While we use science and technology to make ourselves more beautiful by visiting our favourite medical spas, the concept of how others generally perceive beauty is still a new foray.
Also, attractive faces for men and women can be subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but facial attractiveness can still be a standard we want to live up to among our community and society.
Today, we explore this phenomenon in our blog to inform how cosmetic procedures can align with how humans already look for beauty in themselves and each other.
When it comes to how we look at human beauty, evolution remains one of the best psychological explanations for how we perceive beauty. Evolutionary beauty theories focus on identifying individual appearances of beauty due to how they pertain to genetic potential.
The fitness hypothesis is a popular idea in this branch of beauty psychology. Despite the name, it’s not necessarily directly related to physical fitness. Instead, this hypothesis proposes that the core of all beauty perception comes from features that identify health and genetic potential.
The features we associate with beauty are linked to aspects that indicate a potential mate is in good health and has a greater likelihood of helping produce healthy offspring.
This hypothesis is one that has already been proven by nature. For example, many birds woo their mates by displaying their brightly coloured plumage. Bright and full colours indicate that the bird is healthy and that their genetics could benefit their children. Birds use this to select their mate, and this is one example of how birds look for “beauty” in one another.
Much like birds, and despite changes in societal norms, many of the traits that humans commonly consider “beautiful” align with health and fertility signs. Even if we’re not thinking, “baby fever.”
How can I use the fitness hypothesis to hack beauty?
Start with your skin. Skin is one of the most easily identifiable signifiers of age and health. When our skin is healthiest, it looks bright, tight, and youthful. This youthful appearance enhances perceived fitness and fertility, which has the psychological effect of making others perceive you as more beautiful.
Removing wrinkles, increasing collagen production, moisturizing, and tackling sagging skin can have a dramatic impact on your overall appearance.
Social Beauty Conventions
The psychology of beauty appears to be a mixture of nature and nurture. For us as humans, evolutionary signals of beauty seem to be hardwired into our DNA. We then also link social beauty trends and norms to the culture and influences that direct our lives. Because of the cultural impact, perceptions of beauty can vary drastically between cultures, geographies, and even social groups.
The specific norms, experiences, and lifestyles of a given society directly influence beauty within that particular population. Social beauty perception can be shared worldwide or localized. It can even vary from specific ethnic or social groups.
Social beauty conventions also tend to change over time. For example, in 16th C. England, the rich would often have their teeth blackened to make it appear as if they could afford to consume large quantities of sugar.
At that time, sugar was more expensive and less readily available, so this was a way for the elite to flex their wealth. Today, we have flipped the other way for social beauty cues. The upper class are more likely to focus on perfect smiles and pearly white teeth.
The same goes for sun exposure. In the past, humans who were fair and did not have darker skin were more likely to be perceived as having a higher socioeconomic status. Now, to get that perfect tan, we may take on the side effects and the sun damage for that “perfect” glow. Of course, this choice will only speed up how we age and negatively impact our skin.
How can I use social psychology to hack beauty?
Social beauty norms tend to be less “functional” than evolutionary signals. That said, there is often a great deal of overlap. Again, our skin health is a standard beauty signal in the fitness hypothesis, but it also has a strong social influence.
Beauty cues that are tied strictly to social conventions tend not to display genetic advantages or potential. Instead, it focuses on preferences that can be isolated or cross-cultural. For instance, rhinoplasty allows us to achieve a size or nose shape that matches the beauty ideals of specific geographies and ethnicities.
Cosmetic services like CoolSculpting works as an excellent measure for removing stubborn pockets of fat. CoolSculpting is a popular procedure for removing fat from arms, hips, abdomen, back, and thighs.
From an evolutionary beauty perspective, a little extra fat would have been an advantage. Today, however, most people desire flat stomachs and physiques with less fat, which is a clear example of how social beauty psychology overrides evolutionary beauty.
Venus of Willendorf – Upper Paleolithic Fertility Symbol
Evolutionary VS Social Beauty
The psychology of beauty is a careful balance between evolution and social indicators. There is a great deal of crossover between the two, but they sometimes do butt heads.
When this happens, which beauty hypothesis should you use?
Several factors can come into play in making this distinction. One of the biggest differentiators comes down to one’s lifestyle and quality of life. In developing nations, evolutionary traits such as health and disease-resistance appear to impact beauty perception significantly.
Whereas, in countries with more established healthcare systems, like Canada and the USA, social indicators often play larger roles in how beauty is perceived.
Of course, this is not a hard-and-fast rule. There are always exceptions and changes in preferences. The best choice for you is almost always the beauty signals that you prefer. Your beauty is your own, and how you perceive and feel about yourself is the top priority.
Beautiful is good, but the most attractive people appreciate their own internal and external beauty!
Newmarket Cosmetic Beauty Services
At the Plastic Surgery Skin Clinic in Newmarket, we help our clients achieve their beauty goals with an array of proven, effective beauty services. From skincare to fat removal to antiaging, our plastic surgeons provide natural results, something to expect from a medical spa with board-certified plastic surgeons on-site.
Book your consultation today, and we will help you achieve your beauty goals!