Opinion | Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but concept plays a large role in our society
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
In March of 1929, The Miami Student ran an article about an annual Miami University women’s beauty pageant. Both The Miami Student and the Recensio yearbook staff brought in famous photographers and artists to judge the twelve contestants and rank the top six based upon physical beauty.
They then asked students to do the same, intending to show that Miami’s women were more attractive than those at other colleges, but also to compare how students and artists view beauty.
The Miami Student Editorial Board finds this archive story intriguing because it illustrates how much, and yet how little, has changed in the last 83 years. We originally thought that if such a contest was held now it would cause controversy, but then we reconsidered.
Websites exist that rank college girls based on beauty and there is no great protest of it. Miami organizations host both “Miss Miami” and “King of Hearts” philanthropic pageants that though lighthearted, are still somewhat based on looks and popularity. Even though the times have changed, as have the standards of beauty, every society continues to value their perceived vision of attractiveness. We might think ranking girls in order of hotness in a school yearbook is sexist or archaic, but it happens in magazines and newspapers around the world.
In that sense, there are two ways to consider this story from the archives, and the current pressures for beauty seen today. We can use the “don’t judge a book by its cover” cliché to diminish the role of beauty and highlight personality. Or we can follow the “what you see is what you get” mentality and accept that physical appearance is the first way people are judged. Either way, it seems beauty’s place in our society has not, and will not change drastically anytime soon.