Facial Math

Human beauty is not skin-deep, nor yet something invented by “patriarchy”, but something much more important. It varies widely by time and place, but not to an unlimited extent. No group of people, for example, has ever considered short men, old women, wrinkles or weak chins sexually attractive, and it is most unlikely that it ever will. Beauty can be studied scientifically, for the Golden Section and the Fibonacci Series occur often in nature and are very pleasing to the human mind. The Golden Section ratio is in fact the mathematical basis for the perfect face, fitting hundreds of acclaimed beauties from Nefertiti to the modern supermodels. Stephen Marquandt, the discoverer of this geometrical template to which we are hardwired to respond with aesthetic admiration, says that it is “not strictly an image of beauty, but an actually an image of humanness”. As he also puts it: “‘Beauty’ is essentially the name we give to certain signals processed instinctively by our animal brains in their search for a suitable mate.” That is, the purpose of beauty is to tell us what we should endeavour to mate with; for our tastes may have evolved when we were not the only hominid around. When uglies feel that they are not considered to be quite human, this may be the reason.

(It is a great and thumping fallacy that the lack of a conscious wish to reproduce in any way affects sexual taste. For genetic programming for reproduction by no means requires any conscious wishes. It is altogether dangerous to employ volitional language in these matters, as opposed to mathematical models whereby genes “for” (facilitating or conducive to) behaviour X spread through or are eliminated from a population. No genes for wanting children are necessary, only genes for wanting to fuck and genes for responding to the children in front of one.)

Another approach is that facial symmetry is highly correlated with genes for general physical health. This is primarily because perfect symmetry is hard for a developing embryo to maintain, and so success in this tells us something very important. Secondly, skin and hair are extremely sensitive to illness and malnutrition, so act as early-warning signs of trouble. Thirdly, human perception is finely tuned to detect flaws of symmetry.

In men, symmetry has been successfully linked with more and faster sperm, while symmetrical women have higher levels of the reproductive hormone estradiol. It is, in fact, inevitable that symmetry should be the outward and visible sign of an inward and essential health; for beauty and health are not a matter of genes alone, but of embryological development. Despite all the jokes about dumb blondes, intelligence correlates well with facial symmetry and thus with beauty. Symmetry may thus be a signal that the person was either not exposed to biochemical “insults” in the womb or else was genetically resilient enough not to be affected by them. Contrariwise, asymmetry tells the beholder that the person’s genes and/or foetal development are or were less than optimal; it is no coincidence that a synonym of ugly is “misshapen”. Neither is it without significance that we have adopted the word “model” for beautiful people: the glamour model of either sex is just precisely that, an image of the biological superior human being.

Posted on July 17, 2009 at 08:59 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, The Myth Of "Inner Beauty"

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Ghost in the Machine
    on July 26, 2009 at 12:42

    While I appreciate your general thesis, which really isn’t open to dispute, I would like to offer a few thoughts.

    Examine the faces of mature people, especially politicians and business leaders – first one half of the face, then the other. What you in many instances are likely to see is an astonishing lack of symmetry. This, of course, may be the “wear and tear”, the imprint, of a very imbalanced life.

    As a portrait artist, I observe that it is the “minor asymmetries” that often define the visual manifestation of someone’s character. If the portrayal becomes too symmetrical, it will appear wooden and artificial.

    Many girls that I have considered infinitely beautiful have rather striking asymmetries. The beauty of their character, their charisma, radiates through their features.

    On the other hand, some of the “perfectly symmetrical beauties” just don’t do it for me. But then again, I suppose I need to feel that “someone is home”. 🙂

  2. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on July 26, 2009 at 13:29

    The symmetry work is based on showing photographs to people. Can one tell from a photograph whether someone is at home or not? It’s probably harder.

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