The Science of Beauty is a new feature on The Mirror Reflects. This 3 part-series will dive into the mathematics of beauty, what is considered beautiful, and how that is achieved in 2014. It looks to shatter the myths of conventional beauty and promote the ideal that everyone is beautiful. Check out part 1 here and part 3 here.
With the millions of plastic surgery procedures and the countless over-the-counter cosmetic treatments, the entire world seems to be looking for a fix-all when it comes to their faces. Scientists across the world have been scrambling for the definition of a beautiful face. Since the earliest times, scientists have believe that facial beauty can come be reduced to one simple formula and that portions of an attractive face should follow certain defined ratios.
Neoclassical Canons view the face in proportions and have been proposed by artists dating back to the renaissance period as guides to drawing beautiful faces. It has a lot to do with symmetry, the distances between certain parts of the face and proportions — how different features measure up against each other. Dr. Kendra Schmid, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, uses a formula based on 29 different points on the face to calculate beauty. He experiment also involves symmetry. By plotting these 29 points on the face, they are able to measure symmetry in an objective way. Every separate calculation configures into the total, which is out of ten. Each separate facial feature gets examined. For example, Lips and their fullness. If your lips are very thin or extremely thick, your score will lower. Symmetry is considered ideal- your nose should be as long as your ears, the space between your eyes should be equal to the length of each eye, etc.
Angelina Jolie-Pitt’s face, with the 29 points plotted on it, to measure for symmetry
Photo Courtesy of The Huffington Post
To get a perfect score, the distance between the eyes should be equal to the width of one eye, the nose is the same length as an ear, and the overall face is in line with the Golden Ratio equating to 1.618. The closest thing to the perfect face found in nature today, is Brad Pitt. Out of a total score of 10, Pitt scored a 9.67.
Dr. Stephen Marquardt created the Golden Mask, which he deems to be the template for the most beautiful face. He’s all about ratios. For example, he told The Washington Post that the width of the front two teeth in a supermodel’s smile is 1.618 times the height of each tooth. For each part of the body, he has a defined ratio. If, and only if, a body part matches his ratio, then it is deemed beautiful.
An example of how the Golden Mask is used to increase beauty
Photo Courtesy of Refinery 29
In 1990, psychologists Langlois and Roggman conducted a study about Averageness in order to show that a composite image of many overlaid faces (= the average) is in most cases more attractive than each individual face. There are also studies that suggest that it does not even matter if the faces used to create the composite are from allegedly attractive or unattractive subjects. The more faces are being used to create a composite face, the less pronounced an irregular feature or flaw would show up; so as a result of blending many faces into one individual blemishes and undesired skin complexions disappear. Further, any other irregularity such as asymmetries and large features would blend into a homogenous flawless (as in there is nothing unattractive about it) face.
Two faces morphed together to create a more “beautiful” face
Photo Courtesy of Refinery 29
Even scientific analysis cannot correctly quantify beauty. From the beginning of time, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are plenty of people who are beautiful, whose face won’t fit in the “golden mask”. In the averageness study, they blends many faces into one individual to remove blemishes or more striking features, but those striking features can often make a person look beautiful and unique. Overall, while the studies are interesting, they show the emphasis that our culture places on physical beauty. Rather than focus on the exact formula for the “most beautiful” face, rather than setting standards for beauty that are impossible to meet, our society should focus on creating a culture of acceptance and tolerance of all beauty. Because everyone is beautiful.