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You know the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”?

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While fundamentally profound and positive in meaning, when you pick it apart, it can suddenly dampen the mood.

Beauty may, indeed, be in the eye of the beholder, but the majority of today’s beholders are influenced by societal standards, taught to think beauty takes only one form. For decades, new waves of media have changed what we perceive as beautiful. One minute it’s very thin, the next very strong. Dark skin or light skin, curly hair or straight hair, lots of makeup or no makeup, this fashion over that fashion… it’s difficult to keep up, and that’s why you shouldn’t.

Beauty may be a preference, but there are so many layers holding us back from seeing REAL beauty.

And then there is the idea of how culture plays a part. Culture is its own beast, for better or for worse, and it often defines how we see beauty. From country to country, different standards determine what we find beautiful. With this in mind, Blaine, a producer from Cut, traveled around the world asking people to define beauty.

Here are some of the answers to Blaine asking, “When I say ‘beauty,’ what’s the first word that comes to mind?”

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A man from New Delhi says, “If you ask me, like, what’s a sexy thing about a person, it’s his or her intelligence.”

“Elegance,” a woman from Paris answers. “To me, it’s when you don’t know you are beautiful. You feel good about yourself, and you can act natural.”

“When one says beauty, the first thing that comes my mind is women. Everything is centered around women,” a man from Rome says.

A woman from Shanghai emphasizes natural beauty, but says there are far too many people who get plastic surgery today, and it makes them look fake.

“Traditionally big eyes, strong eyebrows, high nose bridge, and a sharp chin is a pretty girl’s look,” says a woman from Shanghai.

Big chests and bottoms on women are also noted, as well as big muscles on men. One man, however, says calling his gender beautiful is offensive.

The participants also describe their ideal partners, honing in on the qualities that make them beautiful, as well as the traditional standards that their cultures insist make someone beautiful.

“It can be outer beauty, inner beauty, or a moment,” a woman from Berlin says. “For everyone it’s subjective and you have to decide for yourself.”

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