Personal Beauty and Personal Agency

Philosophy Compass 18 (12):e12953 (2023)
  Copy   BIBTEX


We make choices about our own appearance and evaluate others' choices – every day. These choices are meaningful for us as individuals and as members of communities. But many features of personal appearance are due to luck, and many cultural beauty standards make some groups and individuals worse off (this is called “lookism”). So, how are we to square these two facets of personal appearance? And how are we to evaluate agency in the context of personal beauty? I identify three ways of responding to these questions: beauty advo- cacy, beauty skepticism, and beauty revisionism. Advocates connect an honorific sense of beauty with personal charac- ter. Skeptics focus on beauty standards, and primarily offer a social critique of beauty standards. Some skeptics suggest embracing other aesthetic ideals – even ugliness. Revision- ists critique beauty standards, but retain an honorific sense of beauty. Each position offers tools to evaluate personal agency as aesthetic agency, whether first-personally or through our appreciation of others' appearance.

Similar books and articles

Saving beauty.Byung-Chul Han - 2017 - Malden, MA: Polity Press.
Feminist Aesthetics and the Neglect of Natural Beauty.Sheila Lintott - 2010 - Environmental Values 19 (3):315 - 333.
The boundaries of beauty in pre-Qin confucian aesthetics.Qian Zhang - 2009 - Frontiers of Philosophy in China 4 (1):52-63.
You Are Beautiful: a story about self esteem.Todd Snow - 2021 - Chicago, Illinois: Sequoia Kids Media. Edited by Melodee Strong.
Beauty.James Kirwan - 1999 - New York, NY, USA: Distributed exclusively in the USA by St. Martin's Press.
ORLAN Revisited: DIsembodied Virtual Hybrid Beauty.Peg Brand Weiser - 2013 - In Peg Brand Weiser (ed.), Beauty Unlimited. Indiana University Press. pp. 306-340.
Beauty.Nick Zangwill - 2003 - In Jerrold Levinson (ed.), Oxford Companion to Aesthetics. Oxford University Press.
Symposium: Beauty Matters.Peg Zeglin Brand - 1999 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 57 (1):1-10.
What is Beauty and Wherein Does Beauty Lie?Hung I.-Jan - 1974 - Contemporary Chinese Thought 6 (2):69-84.
Introduction: The Place of Beauty in Contemporary Aesthetics.Ingrid Vendrell Ferran & Wolfgang Huemer - 2019 - In Wolfgang Huemer & Íngrid Vendrell Ferran (eds.), Beauty: New Essays in Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. München, Deutschland: Philosophia.
Foreword: Cutting Two Ways with Beauty.Eleanor Heartney - 2000 - In Peg Zeglin Brand (ed.), Beauty Matters. Indiana University Press.
The Persistence of Beauty.David E. Cooper - 2005 - In Claes Entzenberg & S. Säätela (eds.), Perspectives on Aesthetics, Art and Culture. Stockholm: Thales. pp. 69–80.


Added to PP

369 (#55,228)

6 months
229 (#11,156)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Madeline Martin-Seaver
University of South Florida

References found in this work

Moral Beauty, Inside and Out.Ryan P. Doran - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):396-414.
Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal.Heather Widdows - 2018 - Princeton University Press.
On Beauty and Being Just.Elaine Scarry - 1999 - Princeton University Press.
Sex Objects and Sexy Subjects: A Feminist Reclamation of Sexiness.Sheila Lintott & Sherri Irvin - 2016 - In Sherri Irvin (ed.), Body Aesthetics. Oxford University Press. pp. 299-317.

View all 51 references / Add more references