Upon its release, "Beautiful" received acclaim from music critics, who have ranked it among Aguilera's strongest material. It won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 2004 ceremony. "Beautiful" was also a commercial success, topping the charts in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, where it was certified gold for 500,000 units shipped.
"Beautiful" has been widely embraced as an anthem by the LGBT community for its message of self-empowerment and inner beauty. An accompanying music video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, and earned Aguilera a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of gay and transgender people. In 2011, UK LGBT rights organization Stonewall named "Beautiful" the most empowering song of the previous decade for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. In 2009, Rolling Stone and VH1 listed it as one of the best songs of the 2000s.