Think about your own definition of attractiveness. Has it changed over time? If so, why do you think it has changed?Attraction is a complicated emotion. It involves much more than physical...

Think about your own definition of attractiveness. Has it changed over time? If so, why do you think it has changed?

Attraction is a complicated emotion. It involves much more than physical appearance. As we age, grow, and change, different qualities become attractive to us

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Attractiveness is a personal preference first and foremost. However, as a society, I think we often perceive attractiveness socially which colors our personal preference. For instance, before television and film, art and fashion dictated what was considered attractive.

The art of painters like Peter Paul Ruben and Giambattista Tiepolo often portrayed women with large bellies and wide thighs, which their culture perceived as beautiful. Some foreign countries still today find fat to be more desirable in their women. And Venus DeMilo had a flat stomach, but her waist was nothing like models for Victoria's Secret. Twiggy, the string-bean model of the sixties, ruined things for the rest of women in this country, who weren't that thin at birth.

Today, reality TV cashes in on The Biggest Loser...Ruben's vision is long gone. The iPhone has an app that allows you to take someone's picture, and by shaking the phone, you can make the face fat.

The age-old question is what is beauty? It is in the "eye of the beholder," but that eye is influenced by elements of society. Bulimia and anorexia are very real. It's is too bad that we cannot see others, and ourselves, based on inner-beauty rather than outward beauty, which fades so quickly.

I think it may get a little easier as we get older. There is a comfort level we gain with age that allows us to be attracted to others who may not reflect the "norm." For me, a sense of humor would attract me where the face was of secondary importance. I can find someone attractive and realize that it has nothing to do with the physical appeal of a face or body, but the person in that body.

I worry for our children: they run this gauntlet at school everyday, based on physical beauty, weight and even dress. Attractiveness sells on TV and in the movies. Kids see this and buy into it. For adults, it's hard to combat those fronts for our kids...but let's face it. For many adults, image is still everything. Plastic surgery is the new "30...40...50."

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We are all affected by the fashion industry and interior designers.  Back in the 1970s dark wood was fashionable; people had their kitchen cupboards in dark shades, the Mediterranean furniture of nearly black wood was popular.  Now, lighter woods are what is put into kitchens and other rooms of homes.  So, people remodel.

Likewise, what is perceived as beautiful changes according to the dictates of fashion.  When so many people were poor, a plump wife meant that a man was prosperous.  But, nowadays being "fashionably slim" and leanly muscled is fashionable.  There is no question that people are influenced in their ideas of beauty; nevertheless, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" still exists.  Certainly, older people do not concur with some of the new perceptions of beauty.

George Bernard Shaw once remarked that it was a shame that youth was wasted on the young.  For, more mature people would be able to sift through the superficial beauty of both objects and people and look more at what constitutes the object or person, understanding that personality and character are far more golden and appearance.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When I think about what was attractive to me in high school (for all friends - not just members of the opposite sex) as compared to what kind of people I am attracted to now (again, generally speaking) it scares me to think about what might have happened had I decided to marry someone from high school.  This is also why I am frequently cautioning my high school students who believe they are in relationships with "the one" to give everything time, lots and lots of time.

More than anything, as previous posts have stated, attraction seems to change with maturity.  I used to be attracted to humor more than anything.  I loved funny people who were good at getting lots of attention.  Now, I find myself craving friendships with intelligent people more than anything.  I am less attracted to those surface qualities that show up more immediately than others, and in search of the deep down good stuff.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Personally, I do not think that my definition of attractiveness (at least in a sexual/romantic sense) has changed over time.  I think that I am attracted (platonically) to somewhat different types of people than I used to be, but when it comes to more romantic attraction, I think I am the same as I ever was.  (I think this partly because I'm still married (at age 40) to a woman I started seeing when we were 17.

As far as platonic attraction goes, I am less attracted to people who are brash and aggressive than I used to be.  I think this is because I have matured and have come to have less of this sort of tendency myself.  When I was younger, I tended to be louder, ruder, more aggressive.  As I have grown up, I have come to dislike people who act in that way because I see it as immature.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think now that I am getting on a bit, my definition of attractiveness has become less ideal and more accepting of things like wrinkles. That sounds really superficial, but for me, when I was young, I had an "idea" image of what it was to be attractive. Now that I am a bit older and I see how unreal this ideal is, by standards have dropped. Also, I think now that attractiveness isn't just about looks - it is also about actions and the way you carry yourself and confidence.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Monogamy is valued in our society for this very reason. As we season and age, physical beauty can fade or morph into something completely different. In a marriage relationship, the beauty of commitment is to grow beyond those first few years which may have been dominated by the physical and appearances. As I am seasoning into my late thirties, I find my husband and I experiences new avenues of our friendship and attraction all the time... but it is hard work some weeks.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At every level of life, people's needs are different--which means what they are attracted to changes, as well. If one is looking for fun, fun is attractive. If one is looking for a more serious partner, the attraction is clearly different. These are the kinds of things which change over time. I've made a lot of significant changes in my life over the last year, and what I find attractive about people right now is their willingness to adapt.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sure.  I think it's pretty natural, too.  When I was 20, perhaps I wouldn't find many things about a 42 year old attractive.  Now that I am 42, I think 42 year olds look great!  I think as we age and mature, we are increasingly attracted to who a person is than what they look like.  Not that looks don't matter at all, mind you, but I think they matter less.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find wit and intellegence attractive in those I choose to have relationships with. I have been swayed by other qualities over time (a weakness for tall men, friendships with the 'fun loving' girls ) but have learnt that the relationships which last for me are with those of like minds.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that when we are younger we tend to look at physical qualities that are attractive to us. As we age and mature most people realize there is more than the physical qualities of people and this is when the change in what we find attractive occurs.

maria-vivanco | Student

My definition of attractiveness haa changed over time. as a kid, I thought someone was attractive when try were physically attractive. Now I've grown more open to that . 

zumba96 | Student

My definition of attractiveness has changed over time because when I was younger I probably that middle school guys were cute and of course they have changed by now but I don't give as much care for physical looks as well as the personality. If you go by personality you'll find the right guy. I thought a guy was really cute in middle school but I talked to him and he was so stuck up, it's personality that counts. 

Wiggin42 | Student

My definition of attractiveness has definitely changed over time as I've grown and matured. I think its a normal part of life for it to change. Guys I thought were cute in middle school no longer interest me. (Of course they've probably changed quite a bit since then!) I do know that I've grown less interested in how people physically look. Now I tend to focus more on what sort of things we can both talk about.