It is unethical to consider that the beauty of a person is only limited to his/her looks Discuss

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“It is unethical to consider that the beauty of a person is only limited to his/her looks. Discuss


In the beginning of the research paper it is always presumed to explain any and every terminology that could be possibly encountered. Starting with the term ‘Beauty’—its a characteristic of a person, animal, place, object, or idea that provides a perceptual experience of pleasure or satisfaction. Beauty is studied as part of aesthetics, sociology, social psychology, and culture. An “ideal beauty” is an entity which is admired, or possesses features widely attributed to beauty in a particular culture, for perfection.<href=”#_ftn1″ name=”_ftnref1″ title=””>[1]

Perhaps the most familiar basic issue in the theory of beauty is whether beauty is subjective—located ‘in the eye of the beholder’—or whether it is an objective feature of beautiful things. A pure version of either of these positions seems implausible, for reasons we will examine, and many attempts have been made to split the difference or incorporate insights of both subjectivity and objectivity accounts. Ancient and medieval accounts for the most part located beauty outside of anyone’s particular experiences. Nevertheless, that beauty is subjective was also a common place from the time of the sophists. By the 18th century, Hume could write as follows, expressing one ‘species of philosophy’:

“Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them; and each mind perceives a different beauty. One person may even perceive deformity, where another is sensible of beauty; and every individual ought to acquiesce in his own sentiment, without pretending to regulate those of others. (Hume 1757, 136)”

However, if beauty is entirely subjective—that is, if anything that anyone holds to be or experiences as beautiful is beautiful (as James Kirwan, for example, asserts)—then it seems that the word has no meaning, or that we are not communicating anything when we call something beautiful except perhaps an approving personal attitude. In addition, though different persons can of course differ in particular judgments, it is also obvious that our judgments coincide to a remarkable extent: it would be odd or perverse for any person to deny that a perfect rose or a dramatic sunset was beautiful. And it is possible actually to disagree and argue about whether something is beautiful, or to try to show someone that something is beautiful, or learn from someone else why it is.<href=”#_ftn2″ name=”_ftnref2″ title=””>[2]

“Beauty is skin deep” – refers to the fact that one can be beautiful on the outside and mean or unpleasant on the inside.<href=”#_ftn3″ name=”_ftnref3″ title=””>[3] It means physical beauty is superficial. This proverb was first found in a work by Sir Thomas Overbury, 1613:

“All the carnall beauty of my wife, Is but skin deep.” <href=”#_ftn4″ name=”_ftnref4″ title=””>[4]

The phrase refers to the outward beauty of a person. Of course, we must realize that a person can be beautiful on the inside. Such a person is often referred to as a ‘lovely’ person. However, when we refer to something beautiful we are usually referring to that something’s outward appearance.

What the phrase tries to emphasize is that the outward appearance of a person counts for nothing, but it is what lies beneath the skin, the actual person him/herself is what really matters. It means beauty is beyond skin, it’s in the soul. I believe the underlying message of this saying is completely true.<href=”#_ftn5″ name=”_ftnref5″ title=””>[5]

As the course entitled to the class is “Business Ethics”, this research paper covers context not only regarding the specific phrase or saying, “Beauty is Skin Deep” but also the varies array of human nature, behaviour and attitudes, and thinking towards the term ‘beauty’ and how people perceive the characteristics of a beautiful person—such as their behaviour and attitude, whether they are any different than others (people who may not be beautiful), towards everyone.


As stated earlier beauty is a generalized word which essentially portrays the characteristics of a person. From my research, I expect to find that it is totally unethical to consider that the beauty of a person is only limited to his/her looks. I don’t think so that it has got anything to do with today’s or yesterday’s world. What was once beautiful was always beautiful, and so was its depth (skin deep). I agree to the statement. Although we are tend to get initially attracted to things / people which are pleasing to our eyes that we call beautiful. But once we get to know the person, we move on with the looks, as looks for the initial phases of any relationship etc. Thus, when we say beauty is skin deep, it also hold true for such associations. However, momentarily, a thing / person who is beautiful to look at may be beautiful for those particular times. Beauty is not, never limited to the look or the appearance of a person, judging that way would be totally unethical


In order to complete this research paper I have resorted to both primary and secondary data sources and conduct a very brief interview session with the respondents of my primary research. For the primary data, I have conducted a survey on a sample size of 30, from which 20 were undergraduate university going students and 10 working graduates; 20 male respondents and 10 female. The questionnaire used for surveying this sample size had nineteen questions in it.

As far as secondary data is concerned, I have utilized an interview session and its review, some journal articles and some plain articles. Most of the articles deal with the phrase “beauty is skin deep”- information regarding how authors perceived beauty as, what enhances beauty, and obviously whether the phrase is ethically sound or not and some personal opinions regarding the phrase. However, the interview session was quite helpful to understand the small but very important reasons for their specific choice in option of a particular question. All the secondary data were collected from the internet.

The research project is thus a symbiosis of both the data sources, primary and secondary. Not all the questions asked to the respondents are incorporated in the research paper; many of them were there for better understanding.


In my primary research, as mentioned earlier, I had 20 male n 10 female respondents who were asked a total of 19 questions; and the first question to them was the basic concern which is what they think the word beauty means. The graph above shows a statistical analysis of the question; the y-axis showing the number of respondents and the different choices given are shown in the x-axis. The very first question asked to respondents of this research was whether, they believe the saying “Beauty is skin deep” ethical. More than 45% of the respondents believes that beauty comprises of several characteristics of a person- personality, attitude, and behaviour with others and of course the look or appearance of a person.

A second and quite a significant proportion of the group, 30%, think that beauty lies inside the soul of a person. Reason for setting such an option to the respondents was because many famous author and writer has defined beauty to exist, metaphorically, inside the soul of human being, as mentioned in the introduction of the paper. Around 23% of the sample straight chose the first option, that beauty isn’t something that is restricted within the skin of an individual.

As it turned out in the very short interview session, few of the respondents first weren’t much clear about the phrase and ethical understanding of it. However, it is apparent that the phrase “Beauty is skin deep” to the respondents is not ethical. None of them chose option C.

This proves the hypothesis; set at the beginning of this paper, regarding the given phrase “Beauty is skin deep” is totally unethical. People never judge each other on the basis of beauty.

When asked the second question, about 46% of the respondents went for natural beauty i.e. to them natural beauty a person is what beauty actually means. 44% of my total 30 respondents also believed that a person’s overall behaviour, attitudes, characteristics makes a person beautiful. According to the rest 10% or 3 respondents, beauty is something that is revealed by a person’s outlook. The way a person carries himself/herself typically can also be described as his/her beauty. The fourth option, which seemed really horrendous, was actually provided to find out whether this generation considers wearing nice clothes to be beauty, but the luckily findings show that no one actually voted for the option.

The reason for asking the respondents about the definition of beauty was to find out, what are people’s perceptions in general and whether everyone think the same way. To find the moral or ethical obligation regarding the phrase “Beauty is skin deep”, it is necessary to have a clear idea about any terminologies. It is evident from the research that about 90% of my respondents consider beauty to be something that is natural (47%) and also a person’s behaviour, attitude, personality shows how beautiful a he/she is (43%). The result of this question primarily proves that people perceive beauty to be something a lot more than just looks, it not limited just looks.

A rather very awkward question was asked to the research sample as whether, they believe that good lookers are proud about themselves; the highest proportion 40% thinks that there are definitely some who are proud of themselves but those cannot represent all attractive person’s. Even though more than 25% of the respondents straight away voted against the notion, but the rest 35% comprises of the believers who thinks that yes good looking person are proud of themselves (14%) and another 20% thinks most of them are.

This question mainly illustrates the effect that one may or may not have in their attitudes and behaviour just because they look good. Although, it was normal to many, but the finding from this question is quite shocking. This is because a huge portion believes that beauty acts as a factor that enhances individuals pride regarding themselves. Well this can be something that create both positive and negative issue– very helpful self-assurance esteem or make a person overconfident. Both has an impact on the society in which they dwell. A person proud can feel confident and perform a task properly, or beauty can also make person egoistic, feel superior than others just because he/she is good looking.

This nature of the respondent, to think that beauty has an effect over a person is totally stereotype and very much unethical. Just because a person is behaving rudely and the same person happens to look good doesn’t mean it’s because of her beauty. This is quite depressing and at the same time very much practical. During the interview session, many of the respondents shared their opinion and experience that they found both men and women who happen to look better possess typical pride in their attitudes and behaviour. In the next question is pretty straight forward and analyses further whether beauty has an impact over a person’s behaviour.

A very much connected to the previous question, do the respondents think that beauty has an effect on a person’s behaviour, the highest percentage, 40% believe that because of a specific group or class, not all can be generalized and be marked. That is, because of being beautiful some people may have an effect over their behaviour but overall, all good looking people cannot be judged in the same way. Around 26% totally disagrees that looks have no impact over a person’s behaviour. The rest 34% gave a rather interesting and important result. 14% of the sample are not at all bothered about others neither do they give importance to other people. About 20% of my respondents believe that beautiful people try to manipulate people with their looks. This result is quite appalling as such a superior characteristic possessed by an individual can be used in such a depressing way. Analyzing and summing up the result from this and the previous question, as perceived by the respondents, it turns out that the characteristic of an individual- beauty, makes an individual feel proud of themselves (35%); and people takes advantage of being beautiful and manipulate others (20%). Beautiful people, feeling superior to others, try to manipulate them in doing any misconducting activities. This totally depressing actions by human beings who’s misusing god’s one of the finest gift.

The objective of this question was to find out the specific element that the survey sample observes in another individual for the first time. This can be someone whom he/she went out with or a friend or can even be a colleague. 50% of the respondents said that they notice the other person’s personality, his qualities and behaviour. His/her style sense is also one the most important issue as its judged by around 28% of the respondents in their first encounter with others. Stunningly beauty is the second least criteria for the sample as only 12% goes for individuals look. When asked in the interview session the sample mentioned that they believe in ‘love at first sight’, according to them looks are vital when going on a date, or first impression of a person comes from looks. The rest 10% falls under the category who doesn’t notice others, people who are not of much importance.

Human nature towards an individual for the first time is portrayed through this question. To understand the moral values involved in a particular agenda, especially if it is concerning a ‘saying’ it is important to go deep and understand the human nature and perception towards any terminology mentioned in such phrases or saying. Thus, the psychology of the respondents is clear that most of them believes that personality should be the characteristics to judge a person for the first time not outlook; as because, beauty is beyond the skin, it lies in the soul of a person. This also makes it evident that to scrutinize someone based upon beauty is not correct, immoral to many of the respondents.

When asked to the respondents that whether beauty can be factor while hiring an employee, the highest proportion, 47% thinks that it is totally unethical to appoint someone in an office just because of his/her beauty. Employees should be acquired on the basis of talent, intelligence and intellectual ability, according to 33% of the respondents. A portion of the sample 13% believes that such procedure of hiring exists in the society and there isn’t anything that they can do about this. In service oriented industry, specially where direct contact or face to face exposure is high, employers give additional value to the beauty of an interviewee. The rest 7% voted for the option “more beauty a person has better should be his/her chances”. It can be presumed these 7% are people who consider themselves to be good looking, and also may be proud and also having an effect over their behaviour because of their appearance.

In recent times, not only in service sectors or in direct contact professions, employers in general appoint stuffs who have a combination of both talent and beauty. This can be irksome to many individuals who may not think themselves to be good looking and even though they are capable enough for the job, they actually don’t get it. Hence comes the tendency where they feel inferior in front of beautiful people, this is further analysed in the following questions.

Once a person is appointed in a particular position of a company, can beauty be a consideration then? When this question was asked, around 53% of the respondents choose option D, which is, it should only be the task completion capability of an employee. The second highest percentage of the respondents chose the option. Beauty should be the last thing to consider. 12% straight forward selected ‘no’ and remaining 3% voted for its an essential criteria. That is 1 of the respondents either believed that beauty plays an important role in the workplace or it can be a survey flaw, where respondent intentionally choose wrong option.

Whatever the situation is, for the appropriateness of the research, and according to the respondent, it has to be considered that beauty do play some role in an office. However, it is evident that considering beauty, as in promoting an officer or giving preference to an employee based upon appearance in unjustifiable and unethical. Intellectuality and task completion ability can only be a consideration in a work place.

As evaluated earlier in a prior question, the research findings showed that one entity can be feeling inferior over other because of glamorous beauty the other person possess. Around 17% of the respondents voted that in some occasions they feel inferior to people just because of their beauty. However, about 56% of the sample feels that their beauty is unique in their own way; they never feel obligated to others because of looks. 20% are very much confident and proud of their own beauty and the rest 7% don’t interact much with others.

Although it’s quite shocking that in a working environment colleague feel inferior to each other and that also because of physical appearance, it is true, practical and disappointing.


According to the research, “Beauty is skin deep” – means that if someone looks beautiful on the outside, they might be so mean in the inside, or if someone’s ugly, may be nice in the inside. It’s like the saying: Don’t judge a book by its cover, instead, don’t judge a person by its cover, it’s exactly the same! It basically means that the only thing that should matter about a person is their personality. Not what they look like. Just because they are “beautiful” on the outside doesn’t mean they are on the inside; the way they act.<href=”#_ftn6″ name=”_ftnref6″ title=””>[6]

A prime example of “beauty is skin deep”, i.e. someone being judged by their appearance rather than for themselves is Susan Boyle. As she stood on the stage to sing, the judge’s faces told it all. They saw a frumpy middle-aged woman. Her hair was not done in the latest style, she was somewhat overweight, and her average looks were not what stars usually look like. All it took was for her to sing the first note of her song to prove to the judges they were all wrong. The look of amazement on their faces has been shown over and over on television, capturing their disbelief that someone with Susan Boyles looks could possess such a voice. The sad thing is, we as a society, make these cruel assumptions of people daily, and it must stop.<href=”#_ftn7″ name=”_ftnref7″ title=””>[7]

An article was written by Chezza on “beauty is skin deep”. It said: “When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? Do you think you’re beautiful? What is beauty anyway and according to whom? It has never been harder for people to feel good about themselves. Ironically, we have more “things” to help us in the process–technologically advanced makeup, an abundance of expert advice about nutrition and exercise, and even drastic medical procedures such as elective cosmetic surgery. But still, many people in our society feel unattractive and unworthy. Beauty is something that we all crave for – but what exactly is it? Beauty should not be able to be defined by the media. How can one say what beauty is? Beauty, on the outside, is different in every culture. Some may think pale skin is beautiful, or in contrast, tanned skin. Why does beautiful have to mean skinny or tall? What good comes from being a size-zero? The truth is, real beauty is more than skin deep. You will see, in any culture around the world, a loving and caring person is always be favoured over a sour, vain person. Real beauty is seen the same way from every perspective and is not created by the media. Real beauty is what you are on the inside – how good a person you are. We should not be judged from how we look based on the idea the rich and famous people put into our heads through the media.

Too many people, especially young girls, are attacked by the self-consciousness they place upon themselves. The media gives us the wrong impression of beauty. We are all too absorbed in what we can’t have. This is very much unethical in part of media to spread such information. That is, to look like those airbrushed, stick-thin models on the cover of some magazine. Do we all have an unhealthy obsession with beauty? We spend almost every minute of our day consuming some form of media; watching television, surfing the internet, reading a magazine or newspaper, listening to the radio, or just reading billboards while we’re in the car. In every form of media, we are exposed to advertisements.” <href=”#_ftn8″ name=”_ftnref8″ title=””>[8]

Another article was written by Hamkool on this proverb. It said: “What you don’t see is hidden under the skin and it may be more important than physical beauty.” The proverb has been traced back to ‘A Wife’ (c.1613) by Thomas Overbury (1581-1613). The English writing master John Davies of Hereford recorded essentially the proverb’s modern form in ‘A Select Second Husband’: ‘Beauty is but skin-deep.’ The following century, Samuel Richardson echoed this sentiment in his novel ‘Pamela’ with ‘Beauty is but a mere skin-deep perfection.’ ”<href=”#_ftn9″ name=”_ftnref9″ title=””>[9]

In a different article written by Lindsey said: “Everybody is different, but that’s what makes people normal. We’re all human and should be treated equally, no matter what they look like. Actions speak louder than words.” <href=”#_ftn10″ name=”_ftnref10″ title=””>[10]


The limitations of this research paper mainly lie in the following areas:

I) The small sample size: A greater sample size for surveying would have given better results and a much clearer picture.

II) The possibility of dishonest answers: There is a probability that the ones who filled in the questionnaires were dishonest, biased or reluctant while filling them.

III) The lack of secondary sources: If more secondary sources were incorporated in the research project the outcome would have been more fruitful.


The primary research, the secondary analysis and the interview session all incorporated that the hypothesis set at the beginning of this paper is true.

Morality is something that should exist in each and every human being and when a group or society shares the same idea or starts treating an issue, say, immoral it becomes ethically obligated. So the concept of beauty in minds of the respondents or the phrase “Beauty is Skin Deep” is perceived quite differently. Although beauty to many is natural but some also believes beauty to be a combination of appearance, personality, style sense, behaviour, etc. The common phrase is ethically obligated when a person is judge or treat a person in a negative manner or say as found in primary analysis, some believe that beautiful people behave aggressively taking advantage of their beauty. Such a statement is dreadful and at the same time makes us aware of the occurrence of such a situation. However, no matter what people perceive it is never understandable or unethical that beauty of a person is restricted to his/her look.












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