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Beauty: A High Standard

While I won't judge a person's character based on their physical appearance, I do think that beauty is a standard that can help us judge a person's level of physical health. I only arrived at the conclusion recently. The shift in perception came while I was watching a TV program on attraction. The program presented research that investigated physical factors people found attractive. One of these factors is waist/hip ratio. That is the ratio created when your waist measurement is divided by your hip measurement.

For example, if your waist measures 36 inches at the navel and your hips at their widest point also measure 36, then your waist/hip ratio would be 36/36 or 1.0. On the other hand, if your waist measured 28.8 and your hips 36, then your waist/hip ratio would be 28.8/36 or 0.8. Research shows that we instinctively perceive certain waist/hip ratios to be more attractive than others.

The TV program showed a researcher interviewing male natives in a remote South American tribe. The men were shown line drawings of female figures with different waist/hip ratios and asked to select the one that appealed to them the most. The figures with the waist/hip ratio of 0.66 were almost always chosen, and the tribesmen's explanation was that these women were more desirable because they were healthier. This confirms research that suggests that people from all cultures naturally perceive a waist/hip ratio of about 0.66 to be the most attractive (i.e., beautiful).

That particular waist/hip ratio means that the waist is about 1/3 the proportion of the hips, the same ratio found in the classic 36-24-36 figure. It also turns out that these tribesmen are correct when they say this is healthy. This waist/hip ratio is associated with having the optimal amount of body fat in proportion to muscle mass. By the way, the optimal waist/hip ratio that is healthiest for men, and instinctively attractive to most women, is about 0.9, meaning that a man's waist measurement is 90% of his hip measurement. In either case, possessing this waist/hip ratio is one sign of good health.

Obviously, there are other ways in which physical health manifests itself as a natural attractiveness or beauty. Healthy skin is naturally beautiful, for instance. Health also manifests as lustrous hair, sparkling eyes, and a striking physical presence or posture. Even though many movie stars are blessed with some nice natural features, most of them have to work at maintaining their health to maintain their attractiveness. That's why many popular figures utilize nutrition, exercise and alternative or complimentary medicine. Their health is part of their natural allure.

So, to reiterate, physical beauty isn't a reliable indicator of a person's character or worth as a human being, but it can be an indicator of health. We are intrinsically wired to recognize the state of health as a state of beauty.

In other words, a healthy human body is naturally beautiful or handsome. When we neglect our bodies they suffer, and we can tell they are suffering because we lose some of our natural beauty. Think of our body as a home for our personality. When our homes are clean and organized and decorated, they are beautiful too, and we feel pleased to be able to show them off. But, when we don't care for our physical surroundings, the resulting chaos and disorder creates a less than pleasing appearance. Our body is a much more intimate home that we live in, but sometimes we are more negligent in its care than we are in the care of our physical houses.

Next, let's look at the relationship between beauty and personality or character.


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