The Quest of Beauty

Last weekend, I went to see a live beauty competition show – Miss Sydney Chinese Pageant – with two of my friends.

I can’t say the show was fantastic, but it was definitely very interesting and entertaining.

The 12 contestants were judged in terms of beauty, talent, personality, and their answers to the judges as judged criteria.

My friends and I, each of us, made a guess who would be the winner of the contest judging by our standard.

Check this out: China Beauty Pageant

Going to a show like this triggered me to contemplate on what true beauty really is? Is beauty only a judgement of taste?

Is beauty completely and purely relative to individuals? Or can there be absolute standard? In other words, is beauty a subjective matter or is it objective?

In a beauty contest show like the one I mentioned above, perhaps some might say beauty are judged by agreements of cultures. That is to say that what everyone considers as beauty is beauty. In modern Asian culture, this refers to big dark eyes, a sharp nose, a small face, fair skin and a perfect body. No wonder one cannot tell these Korean pageants apart.

Translation: 21 Korean Pageants – the same dream, the same face
Miss Korea 2013
Source: The Korean Pageant Contestants Who Look Insanely Similar Finally Competed

In some other contexts, I suppose one may even suggest that beauty is judged only by one’s desirability, which is also a relative term. Our perception of the world changes over time, so what we consider beautiful now may be different from what we consider beautiful in the future.

So…it seems that beauty is only a matter of relation.

Although I am quite certain that I did not take any philosophy classes on aesthetic judgment, but I suppose that the great philosopher Plato would disagree on this claim. The typical idealist Plato would say that there is an absolute Form of Beauty. In other words, beauty is an objective matter, and that everything that we say is “beautiful” is only a reflection of properties of the Form of Beauty through our sensory experience.
(This is only my interpretation of Plato’s view, please feel free to correct me if anything incorrect.)

Annnnnyway, let’s go back to the beauty contest.


For me, it is not an easy job to choose one of these pageants to be the winner of the show given that they all have different attributes, and also that my mind is busy debating with myself what true beauty really is. I am glad that I am not one of the judges who has to make a decision on who the winner is.

At the end, it is just an entertaining show, I really enjoyed the show and I had a great time with my friends who went with me.


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