Article contributed by author Victoria Strander, beauty consultant and researcher.
What Makes a Face Beautiful?
But those against this kind of manufactured beauty often angrily ask, "Who has the right to define what is beautiful?"
The answer is quite simple, actually. Studies have shown that nature does.
Although we'd like to believe that beauty is on the inside, we can't help but think of outward appearances at the mention that someone is beautiful.
More specifically, we tend to think of someone's face. And regardless of ethnicity, race, culture, or time period, facial symmetry is the key aspect of ageless beauty. This has been confirmed by even babies, who prefer to look at symmetrical faces, which illustrates how recognition of symmetry is innate.
For decades, people have been curious about what contributes to beauty and preserving attractiveness for middle aged beauties, leading to extensive research. There has been evidence that physical attractiveness in childhood leads to more attention from teachers and better opportunities and higher salaries in adulthood.
In all this research, one intriguing fact has continued to come to light: a woman's facial beauty is mathematically measurable.
In 1980, Dr. Michael Cunningham, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, conducted a study where participants ranked women's facial beauty. With the rankings so consistent and precise, Dr. Cunningham was able to calculate the "ideal" measurements that epitomize a beautiful face.
Keep in mind that these measurements only exemplify a standardized ideal and not an actual face. Even so, Dr. Cunningham discovered that this perceived beauty could be thrown off considerably by even a slight difference in ratios. For example, considering if the ideal mouth consists of 50 percent of the face's width, a women would be perceived as much less attractive if her percentage differed by even a few points.
Around the world, it is clear that facial symmetry is among the most desirable facial features in young, old and middle aged beauties. However, in addition, different cultures each possess their own unique preferences in how to 'dress up" a beautiful face.
Some examples include:
Our perception of beauty is innate, and in discovering what beauty signals to our unconscious minds, we take a look at sex and reproduction.
Men value physical attractiveness in a mate more than women do (women value money and the ability to provide). However, it's surprising to see what physical attraction actually means to the male brain.
With exposure to things like pathogens, disease, toxins, and parasites during development, as well as genetic factors like inbreeding and mutations, facial symmetry decreases. Therefore, if women are developmentally and genetically healthy, they have greater symmetry and thus are perceived as more attractive. With this, they are more likely to rear and nurture healthy offspring.
So, when a man thinks that a woman is beautiful, his primitive brain is really thinking that this woman is parasite-free and could produce healthy babies.
Lastly, men are also attracted to youthfulness, a low waist-to-hip ratio, and breast size, which too, are evolutionarily significant factors to producing and nurturing children.
With our modern times, there are a variety of procedures, treatments, cosmetics, and products to help enhance our symmetry and beauty.
Many women desire a lifetime of ageless beauty, particularly as they age. Middle aged beauties are more apt to look to more invasive remedies to preserve their appearance. We may have been born with a certain face or hand, but we don't have to live with it.
As Helena Rubenstein, the cosmetics tycoon, said, "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones."