Is beauty a quality of the world or merely our perception of it? In the eyes of the beholder alone or reflecting some universal truth?
How well we know the power of cultural trends and media to dictate what is considered beautiful. Historically any art lover recognizes that the rounded, full-fleshed beauties of Dutch painter Peter Paul Reubens would hardly be acknowledged as such today. Likewise anthropologists can point to numerous examples of cultures with elongated necks from ring insertions, tatoos and piercings are regarded as erotic adornments.
But human beings may inherently respond to certain facial proportions. This seems to have been demonstrated in newborns from a variety of races and cultures.
When it comes to our fellow creatures, we clearly have a bias towards certain 'cute' animals such as baby pups. kittens, bears, tigers and lions. While octopi, squid, spiders, snakes, jelly fish and others make us squirm. Yet clearly to a member of the same species–they would have no other mate!
Yet to human beings, beauty has a meaning which transcends mere physical form. Our language displays this deeper metaphysical understanding. Compassion,faith, peace-seeking, courage, self-sacrifice, kindness, charity and cooperation are universally regarded as acts of beauty.
So while we may be victims of certain cultural biases–we know what true beauty is–when we experience it. Rather than state beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, we might consider it to be in the heart of all who choose to be awake.