Internalizing his standards, I became a brutal and unapologetic beauty critic, dismissing any woman who didn't embody the popular ideal (perfect face, flat stomach, pneumatic curves) and using the word "beautiful" to describe women who, for all I knew, used paralyzed orphans to club baby seals. Read: 9 Things I Learned About Women From Editing Maxim
OK, so I was shallow and evil. But beauty is tangible, beauty is sensory, and beauty is external. People who refuse to admit this need only walk down the street with a beautiful woman. I've done so with ones who are charming, and I've done so with ones who love reality TV and frequently use the phrase "Don't go there."
Their personalities don't matter to the passing men who stumble as they stare, or to the women who look on with admiration and envy, or to everyone who looks at me as though I must have done something extraordinary to deserve such company.
That other famous platitude, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," suggests that there's always someone who will think someone else is beautiful, and always someone who will think that same someone else is ugly.
In other words, everyone is beautiful, and everyone isn't—so objective beauty doesn't exist. It's a nice thought, but scientists have told us for years that humans instinctively equate facial and bodily symmetry with attractiveness, because it connotes health.
Some have even gone so far as to say that beauty is mathematical, and not as in 36-24-36. There's a proportion (approximately 1:1.618), known as the "Golden Ratio"—fans of The Da Vinci Code may recognize it—that can be used to compare an array of human proportions, like the width of the nose compared to the width of the mouth, to create a facial and body structure that is almost universally pleasing.