Today it is possible to use sophisticated software to produce images of faces so realistic that you can’t tell them from photographs of real people. A group of German researchers has taken advantage of this to investigate the precise features that make a face attractive or unattractive.
You can read their work in full on their rather brilliant website beautycheck.
The details of how they go about this are very interesting and would probably justify an article in their own right but for now lets just take a look at their results.
These represent their idea of what constitutes a beautiful female and an unattractive one.
I have to say first off that I don’t find the supposedly unattractive one all that unattractive. I would certainly consider casting her in the role of the initially unattractive girl who is turned into a bombshell at the end of the film like Sandy in Grease. (You know the drill, they start off all shy with a pony tail and big glasses and end up with some make up and more glamourous clothing.)
The characteristics of a beautiful female face according to their research is
– not much fat
– full lips
– dark, narrow eyebrows
– abundant, long and dark eye lashes
– high cheek bones
– narrow nose
– no eye rings
I imagine that most women are thinking that they knew most of this already and that their make up bag is already full of gear to try and improve most of these factors.
Most people already realise that chubby faces don’t appeal as much as thin ones.
Full lips are always popular. If I knew an effective non-surgical way of plumping up lips I would be a rich man by now. Equally, nobody has ever asked me to make their eyebrows bigger. Women, and some men, spend many many hours of their lives making their eye lashes look more prominent.
The high cheek bones and narrow nose are perhaps a little less obvious, but still hardly a surprise.
There are a couple of interesting points. In some other research (note to self – find reference and post it) it was found that the single biggest factor in determining what gender a face is, is the shape of the eyebrows. I was instantly reminded of the line Walk on the Wild side where one of the characters heading to New York to become a transvestite ‘shaved his eyebrows on the way’. It seems that transvestites have already worked this one out.
This work was done by Germans who have been good enough to report it in English, but I can’t help wonder if there is something lost in the translation on the last item. I am not sure what they mean by eye-rings.
I am sure that this is not the last word on attractiveness.
Here is what they found out about what makes a handsome male face.