Umberto Eco's Essay: The History Of Beauty

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The History of Beauty Umberto Eco raises the question in his work ‘why is the history of beauty documented solely through works of art?’ As Eco states, art is what we are left as examples. As a result, it gives us an insight into beauty standards throughout time and of different cultures around the world. Furthermore, artists ideally strive to create something that is appealing to the eye of the viewer, but also what the artist themselves envisions as beauty. However, what one may see as beautiful may not be so through another’s gaze, which leads me onto my next point about beauty and desire. Beauty & Desire Firstly, if something is considered good, it does not mean that it is beautiful or that there is a desire for it. As Umberto Eco states, we can enjoy something for what it is and not desire it. Therefore, beauty and the good are subjective, clarifying that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’, a term coined by Margaret Wolfe Hungerford in her text Molly Bawn from 1878. However, an individual’s cultural standards have an influence on their perceptions of beauty. For example, an…show more content…
It is clear that there is a loss of individuality when it comes to beauty. This is evident to see through social media and dating apps that are based on appearance, which is turning individuals highly superficial in relation to what is physically beautiful. Famous figures and social media influencers, for example the Kardashians, portray idealistic beauty standards. By these influencers selling products as well as themselves and their brand, consumers believe the gimmick that if they buy a product indorsed by their favourite celebrity, they will be one step closer to achieving what Eco describes as ‘the good and the beautiful’. However, this proves to have negative effects on self confidence, signalling that one has to conform to how a heavily social media influenced society perceives

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