The Science of Beauty

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.