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My Facial Feminisation Thesis

 

Part 9:

Beauty

 

This is a very subjective area but beauty is always a consideration in FFS and whenever you feminise a face and its features, you always and automatically consider the beauty and harmony of that face and its features. Personally I have a very flexible and inclusive notion of beauty and this informs my work.

Quantifying beauty is fraught with controversy and there is no consensus of opinion. We have already discussed some of the attempts to analyse beauty with the classical facial canons of artists like Da Vinci and Durer and the more recent systems like the beauty mask but these are ultimately too flawed to give us definitive answers.

The University of Regensburg and Rostock website that I mentioned in Part 3 has published some interesting research on beauty (here's a link). They reach several conclusions:

 

1. Averageness.
A study published in 1990 by Judith Langlois and Lori Ruggman and based on prototypes, suggested that people find average faces beautiful (you can read that study here) However, the Regensberg study found that this is true to a large extent (you can see from the prototypes featured in this thesis that they are all clearly attractive faces) but one problem is that the process of averaging out the faces on the computer had the side-effect of making the skin perfect and flawless. This strongly biased the results as people do find clear skin attractive. Further studies at Regensberg Uni have suggested that an average of attractive faces is considered more attractive than an average of normal faces suggesting that averageness alone is not the answer.

 

2. Symmetry
They found only a weak relationship between beauty and symmetry despite the widely held belief that they are closely linked. Very asymmetrical faces are rated as unattractive but faces rated as unattractive are not necessarily asymmetrical. Similarly, faces rated as beautiful are not always symmetrical and symmetrical faces are not always rated as beautiful.

 

3. Neoteny.
Baby-faced attributes like big eyes are strongly associated with beauty.

 

4. Beauty attributes.
They found that attractive female faces tended to be narrower, darker skinned with full lips, a larger distance between the eyes, thinner eyelids, longer and darker eyelashes, darker eyebrows and higher cheekbones (bear in mind that paler skin is more feminine even if this study suggests that a tan can be considered more attractive in some cultures).

 

One very interesting lesson from the Regensberg University studies is that the faces rated as most attractive were artificially created ones and did not exist in real life.

Further studies may yet contradict these observations and new studies of beauty are being done all the time. For example a 2009 study at the University if St Andrews in Scotland found that women are considered more attractive if their skin has a rosy glow suggesting well oxygenated blood while a 2009 university of Toronto study of white women's faces found that the most attractive faces had a distance between the eyes and the mouth that was just over a third (36%) of the distance between the hairline and the chin; and that the distance between a woman's pupils should be just under half (46%) of the distance between the inner edges of the ears (these measurements are the actually the same ones you come up with when you average faces).

 

So the study of beauty is very much a work in progress and there is no telling when or even if we will reach firm conclusions. Even if we did know for sure what beauty was, it does not necessarily mean that we can impose those rules surgically on any given face. In the end, we are left with the old saying that “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. It is clear that some faces are attractive to many people and others are attractive to fewer people but perhaps it will never be possible to really pin down a definitive description of beauty. One reason for this is that so much of beauty is about personality so that some technically “beautiful” people repel us while another more homely but very likeable person can seem deeply attractive.

I think it is best to forget about the supermodels and actresses – they are not real. There is a real person behind those images but they are so carefully lit and Photoshopped that you rarely get to see what they actually look like. This is not a new thing either - take a classic beauty like the 30's and 40's actress Merle Oberon. In any film or official portrait she is stunning but actually she suffered very badly with skin problems and scarring from an accident. In fact they even invented a special kind of light called an “Obie” to minimise the appearance of her scarring problems on camera.

Does that mean she wasn't beautiful? No, her facial structure was beautiful, and her demeanour was attractive and many people also overlook superficial problems like scarring but she was not the ideal perfect beauty she appeared to the public. The same is true for modern beauties like Kate Moss or Beyonce – of course they are stunning but not as perfect as their public image might suggest.

It is therefore important not to fall for the con – the people behind these pictures are exceptionally beautiful - such extreme beauty is rare and as I've said, the version of that beauty that the public sees does not exist so aspiring to be one of them will be a waste of your time and will inevitably result in disappointment. I think it was Anita Roddick who said “There are 3 billion women who don't look like supermodels and only 8 who do.”

I would argue that perfect faces can also be a little bland and lacking in character. A good example of a face that is extraordinarily beautiful despite being technically imperfect would be Audrey Hepburn who had a far from perfect nose with high nostrils, very thick eyebrows and an unusually small chin and yet, she was exquisite:

 

audrey

 

In the words of Francis Bacon:

There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”

 

 

Please use the links below to navigate around the thesis:


Introduction

Part 1: Common Misconceptions

Part 2: The Established Research

Part 3: Prototypes

Part 4: Sexual Dimorphism of the Face Feature by Feature

Part 5: Relative Proportions

Part 6: Female Neoteny and Feminisation as a Subtractive Process

Part 7: Objective and Subjective Femininity

Part 8: How Feminine is Feminine Enough?

Part 9: Beauty

Part 10: The Man in the Mirror/Self Perception