Female beauty has inspired great poetry, great art, great music, and in this Internet age great arguments. Is beauty objective, does it subjectively lie in the eye of the beholder, or does it defy any description.
We can describe beauty in an objective manner by discussing symmetry, harmony (how the individual features work together), and balance (proportion etc.). However, that is not the full story. Just as nature and nurture do battle so does objectivity and personal taste.
When men talk of female beauty they usually mean female attractiveness. It is for sexual attractiveness, the dazzling moment, the 10,000-volt shock, the reeling smack to the head, that men create much of the art (and even war). The surge in his loins and not detached admiration motivates a man.
Attractiveness relates to beauty but is much more in the eye of the beholder. Nobody is perfect, so attractiveness is how pleasing those imperfections are. Attractiveness is also heavily dependent on individual taste (facial shape, boobs versus booty, blonde versus brunette, blue versus brown eyes, etc.). A perfectly beautiful woman may not always be the most attractive. An attractive woman may not be perfectly beautiful. However, the two remain related thus allowing the argument to rage forever.
On top of the physical is character. Character and personality animate those features. A beautiful face without a smile is less than an average face with a radiant smile. It is the difference between bright and sparkle. An average woman with sparkle will be just as, or more, attractive than a beauty who lacks that sparkle. A warm smile does not just light up a face; it can light up a room. A twinkle in the eye can suggest so much more than perfectly formed bone structure.
Lest anyone think I am arguing against dogma, I will say that looks are still important for a woman. They are not the only thing, but they are an important thing. Looks can take her so far, but is the sparkle that creates the magic. Despite the dogma what most men are looking for is the magic. What man wants a beautiful ice sculpture, perfect in every way, when he can have a wonderful warm woman that lights up his life but lacks perfect symmetry?
Objective, subjective? Who cares? I believe that this one area that the “I know it when I see it argument” is good enough. Is she beautiful or merely attractive? If you are not attempting to sell her at Sotheby’s or Christie’s, does it matter?
There is no doubt that ceteris paribus youth is more attractive than age. However, ceteris is rarely paribus. Apparent age is more important than actual age in determining sexual attractiveness. That is where the age dogma falls down; a twenty-something that looks forty does not beat a forty-something that looks 25. Women can remain sexually attractive well past thirty. There is no reason why an attractive women in her twenties cannot still be attractive in her forties. The only problem is childbearing. Obviously, a man that wants children will need to look towards a younger woman. In that case, youth does win (but again only with other things being equal what man wants a child with an unattractive woman?).
Looks do count for a man but they are not the important thing. Indeed beautiful men may arouse certain suspicions. However the same principals do apply, an ugly man had better bring some great personality (or wealth, fame, status) the table.
Was this post beautiful, attractive, or merely functional? I am not sure; perhaps it is all in the eye of the beholder.