A new approach to human beauty values

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

A study by Sunwoo Kim and Yuri Lee has proposed a new concept on why women want to be beautiful. It is focused on the socio-cultural phenomena of South Korea, China, and Japan.

According to Rokeach, a value is an enduring belief that a specific mode of conduct or end-state of existence is personally or socially preferable to an opposite or converse mode of conduct or end-state of existence. However, different disciplines have adopted or adjusted this definition. Some of the developed fields as cultural value are those of lifestyle, value in social adaptation and roles, consumer value, or social activity value. Moreover, these values can be an appropriate method to understand socio-cultural phenomena related to cultural values.

The researchers of this study have defined human beauty values as a cultural product affected by socio-cultural contexts, and similar aspects of HBV could exist in various cultures.

The participants in the study included women between 20 and 33 years old from South Korea, China, and Japan, because these countries have maintained independent political structures for more than two thousand years and have retained unique languages, history, and customs. Moreover, the participants were only women because compared to men, they suffer more from social anxiety, prejudice, and inequality based on their appearance.


Superiority, self-development, individuality, and authenticity were the four examined dimensions in order to understand the women approach regarding beauty values.

Superiority of human beauty values consist of surpassing others in appearance and physical beauty. This value was found on 77.78% of the Korean participants. Moreover, Korean women have gradually believed that they could achieve more with limited social resources through superior beauty. Previous studies have found that a beautiful appearance creates a competitive advantage that helps the individual acquire limited social resources such as an easier job search, the selection of a spouse, and higher income levels.

Finding meaning in the process of improving beauty through constant effort and management, is called self-development HBV. Therefore, women’s beauty is a barometer to estimate how much effort she exerts for self-development. For example in China, elderly women are more respected when they manage their appearance and make an effort.

The individuality HBV is the pursuit of women’s beauty through distinctive individuality. Therefore, the ability to discover the proper type of beauty considering one’s personal image and physical features is crucial for women’s self-perceptions of beauty. Moreover, authenticity HBV emphasizes that natural beauty is not about being decorated or imitated artificially. Women from the three countries stated that the authenticity HBV was not achieved through artificial methods like cosmetic surgery.

Source: Why do women want to be beautiful? A qualitative study proposing a new "human"
Sunwoo Kim, Yuri Lee 2018
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