The Science of Beauty: Part 3: Photoshop & The Subconscious Standard Of Ideal Beauty

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 2 here

In Original Ideal, editorial photographer Scott Chasserot works to uncover our subconscious beauty ideals through psychology, brain scans, and Photoshop.

Chasserot begins by taking a plain studio portrait of his subjects. In an interview with BuzzFeed, Chasserot said he selects subjects that he finds “facially very interesting. Or that have interesting stories. A few people on the website are transgender.”
Chasserot then creates 50 new images by making small manipulations to the original portrait in Photoshop. These alternations can include tweaking the size of a subject’s eyes, the tone of a subject’s skin, and the width of a subject’s nose and chin.
Chasserot’s subjects are then hooked up to an Emotiv brain scanner and shown the portraits in rapid succession.

Based on whichever portrait the individual has the most “engagement” with, Chasserot determines the subject’s ideal self-image and displays the altered portrait beside the original. Below are the results of the experiment. The photos on the right show the original subject. The photos on the left show the “ideal” alterations, as chosen subconsciously by the subject.

All Photos Courtesy of  Scott Chasserot 


Chasserot can remember the precise moment that inspired Original Ideal.

“What got me thinking was seeing a woman with four toes on each foot, from a congenital disorder. It was a hot summer day and she was wearing sandals. My gut reaction was: Wow, I would never. If I had four toes on each foot, I wouldn’t wear sandals. That vain reaction we all have sometimes.”

“My second thought was: She’s very brave. She’s intelligent enough to not care too much about what other people think of her physical appearance. It made me think about how much we project onto other people, even strangers.”

The project questions: “What do we find instinctively in the human face and how does this translate to self-image? What assumptions would be make about another person if we could see their ideal self-image? Original Ideal combines portrait photography and neuroscience to isolate the subjects’ ideal self-image, a cerebrally sincere preference obtained by circumventing conscience thought.

“The idea is to produce a set of variations that either conform to the canons of beauty that have already been established, or go against it,”saysChasserot.

He goes on to say that, “the real goal of the project is to get people to react in that way. To get them thinking about how much they’re projecting onto the subjects’ ideal self image.”

 What do we define as the ideal face, for both ourselves and others? How does our subconscious influence beauty standards today?

Our subconscious idea of what is beautiful effects every part of our lives. It reflects how you style your hair or how you do your makeup (for example, those who wish for bigger eyes might style their eye makeup in a way that makes their eyes appear wider or fuller). Next time you look in the mirror, challenge yourself to re-think the typical thoughts. Don’t just criticize your appearance. Understand that you are wired to appreciate a specific type of beauty. Learn to embrace that the beauty you see in the mirror is just as precious as the one you subconsciously desire.


Carrie Hammer’s Fashion Shows Are A Beautiful Range Of Diversity

Carrie Hammer is known for showcasing beautiful and diverse models in her fashion week shows.

Karen Crespo is just one example.

The quadruple amputee, who lost all four of her limbs after a battle with bacterial meningitis, recently hit the runway during New York Fashion Week. In doing so, she became the first quadruple amputee to model at Fashion Week.

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 7.24.49 PMKaren Crespo walks at New York Fashion Week 
Photo Courtesy of A+ News

“The emotional part is way worse than the physical part,” Crespo says. “You want to feel loved, you want to feel pretty as a girl, and I don’t feel that way.”

“I guess in a perfect world I would love to be defined as just me,” Crespo said.

Dr. Danielle Sheypuk was another historical groundbreaker, becoming the first model in a wheelchair to grace a New York Fashion Week runway after being featured in Hammer’s show.

Dr. Sheypuk, was also Ms. Wheelchair New York 2012.

“I made the decision to cast ‘role models not runway models,'” Hammer told Jezebel in an email interview. “It is so important to me that women have positive body image and are empowered in work and their life. My line makes dresses to fit women. We don’t make dresses that women need to fit into.”

Sheypuk, who has used a wheel chair since age 2, said she has a longstanding interest in designer clothing. But there was always something missing: enough role models. “People with disabilities need to see it. It’s a confidence booster. It’s like, ‘if she’s doing it, I can do it. Who cares about my wheelchair?'”

Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 7.24.33 PMDr. Danielle Sheypuk on the runway at New York Fashion Week
Photo Courtesy of Jezbel

Dr. Sheypuk said she felt just like another runway model, working her fierceness down the runway.

It is great to see the diversity of different women being showcased in such a national spotlight. By walking in New York Fashion Week, these women are such great role-models for girls everywhere. They truly show that everyone is beautiful, regardless of what others may thing or what “disabilities” others think they have.

Tattoos For A Cause

Women are now showing their support for their cause in a very public and permanent way—by tattooing it on their bodies.

Earlier this year, at the University of North Carolina, two students filed a Title IX complaint with their university, citing the groundbreaking legal provision against sex-based discrimination in their case. These girls spoke passionately about their cause—in fact, the cause is so close to their heart that they even had “IX” tattooed on their feet.

Glamourreported that this isn’t uncommon—many people have tattooed their bodies with their cause, proud to show off what they support.

Many in the animal rights movement have taken to using nudity to make their point that fur and animal skin for clothing is an inhumane practice. For inked-up protestors, they get to make their case two ways, by also displaying their tattoos, as many celebrities and others have done with PETA’s Ink Not Mink campaign. Dani Lugosi took to the streets to raise awareness for the cause, wearing nothing but her tattoos and a sign to promote her cause.

PETA-TattooDani Lugosi raising awareness for animal rights
Photo Courtesy of

Suzanne Africa Engo has been fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa since she was a child, speaking at the UN at the age of 6 as a junior ambassador from her native Cameroon. She has a number of tattoos that represent her beliefs and struggle. Here she displays the name of Dame Elizabeth Taylor that she had inked on her arms in tribute to Taylor’s contributions towards combating AIDS in Africa.

Suzanne+Africa+Engo+Celebrity+Activist+Suzanne+yfGdvLwYgdqlSuzanne Africa Engo shows off her tattoos
Photo Courtesy of Zimbio

Many people who are HIV positive have gotten tattoos, expressing their condition to the world. HIV Positive Magazine reported that, putting it in the public eye forces people to discuss it. It was reported that others feel that the tattoos mark people who have HIV like lepers. Still, many people have chosen to get their HIV positive status tattooed on their body.

tattoos2HIV Positive tattoos
Photo Courtesy of HIVPositive Magazine  

Cancer ribbons are an extremely popular tattoo, showing support for those who have concurred and perished at the hands of the disease. Stephanie Tamez, a tattoo artist at Brooklyn-based parlor Saved Tattoo, said she has tattooed pink ribbons on husbands in support of their wives undergoing treatment. Kelly Davidson made headlines due to her intricate cancer tattoo, which was inked directly on her chest and over the scars of her double mastectomies that has made her fight against this ailing disease a viral sensation, after she posted it online.

Tattoos have always been a form of self-expression and have often made people more confident in their looks. Sharing a cause that is near and dear to their hearts through this medium is only increasing the number of people confident in their bodies and more than happy to show them off to the world.