Essay about Fashion: Social Construction

Submitted By adele86
Words: 1019
Pages: 5

Does Beauty function by denying a social construction?

To understand this question fully the best way is to break it down. According to Boghossian (1999) states a social construct is –

This thing could not have existed had we not built it; and we need not have built it at all, at least not in its present form. Had we been a different kind of society, had we had different needs, values, or interests, we might well have built a different kind of thing, or built this one differently.

Beauty can be seen in both lights of encouraging and denying a social construct. What one individual deems as having beauty can be completely different to what another person deems as having beauty. Its what Synott discusses in his article when he talks about the folk wisdom – handsome is as handsome does, never judge a book by its cover etc. This idea of beauty and how it is perpetuated through all walks of our lives. Therefore, due to beauty being seen differently through so many perspectives it could be argued that it can deny the social constructs, as there are so many perspectives. Like what Boghossian says, the thing by which is the social construct is completely subjective. However, it could also be argued that the whole concept of beauty enables the social construct as it perpetuates this idealism of what beauty is defined as.

Wikipedia defines beauty as –

Beauty is a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction.

The Oxford Dictionary defines it as –

a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight

The Urban Dictionary –

Beauty is a thing seldom seen. It is held by all within the soul it lies, waiting to come out to the surface, but it can only be found if someone is sharing your soul with you. Beauty is suppressed by the evils of the world. Only love can bring beauty out. Once seen, beauty never hides again. Not even hatred can deny beauty of it's true design. Beauty, although possessed by all by few and fewer yet will ever see one of the most beautiful sights - the beauty held by you.

If there is a definition of beauty, there is a bar so to speak to be met. A list of what is deemed as attaining beauty and a list of what is not. Again, it is what Synott discusses – the idea of ugliness. He goes on to discuss the notion of to be found attractive is to be found loveable. And on the opposite if one is deemed unattractive they are seen as unlovable and to be ugly is to be repulsed or repelled.

So can we say that beauty can be a function whereby denying a social construct. It can be argued on both counts. Beauty can be objective and subjective whereby resulting in so many perspectives looking at a single object each having a different take on what they are looking at. However, the idea of beauty that they have, is that only there because of the social construct that society projects as being beautiful?

Or, have we fallen prey to, in Lasch's phrase, 'a culture of narcissism'?

The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and regards everyone as a rival for the favors conferred by a paternalistic state. His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace. Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an unbridled urge to destroy. Hence he repudiates the competitive ideologies that…