Inner beauty, which is often called true beauty, is a concept that arises in many different contexts, including discussions of self-esteem and religious situations. The most generic definition of it is a type of beauty that does not rely on the visible features. Essentially, this type of beauty is a feature of a person's personality that is, in many cases, perceived as visible by people who are close to the individual. There are thought to be many ways of cultivating inner beauty, and possessing this quality is usually considered a positive personal feature.
Much like outer beauty, the qualities that define inner beauty are different in different cultures. In most cases, positive personality features in any given culture can be part of inner beauty. This includes not only the ways a person behaves toward others, but also the way he or she feels about his or her own life. Additionally, this type of beauty is often very different for men and women. Some qualities often associated with this type of beauty include gracefulness, kindness, and intelligence.
One of the most interesting features of inner beauty is that it is thought that internal features can change a person's perception of outer features. A person who is kind may appear more beautiful than a person who is mean, particularly to friends and people who know the person well. This is because a person is typically not perceived in any truly objective manner, and knowing a person intimately can influence the features someone remembers.
Various religions often emphasize and praise a type of beauty that emanates from personal qualities rather than physical features. People who possess this type of attractiveness are praised over those who cultivate outer beauty, because true beauty is available to all people who are willing to seek it. While religions often specify what features constitute this type of beauty, the interpretation of those features can change over time. Religious texts typically contain explicit descriptions of a religion's envisioning of true beauty.
Problematically, people often use the term inner beauty to indicate that a person lacks outer beauty. This usage creates problems when a person possesses both inner and outer beauty. Many people believe that great outer beauty reduces a person's need to create inner beauty, but many people who are conventionally beautiful also possess many attractive inner qualities. The conflict between inner and outer attractiveness can make judgments of beauty more difficult to make, particularly when someone is looking for a potential partner.