Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Most of us are keenly aware that the majority of Movie Stars owe their good fortune to sheer luck and DNA. For many actors having a 'perfect' or interesting face somehow compensates for the absence of any acting abilities. I would dare to say that most careers on the silver screen have been created and sustained on looks alone.

Why do we tolerate this?

Homo escapeons love to look at faces. Last night I watched John Cleese present the science behind our insatiable desire to view others in The Human Face on PBS. TheHumanFace

Apparently a staggering 97% of humans aged 4 - 80 from every corner of the globe share a universal agreement on the rules of beauty!

The usual suspects are listed clear skin, high cheek bones and forehead, full lips and most of all symmetrical features.

In it's totality the human face advertises general health and our evolutionary psychology drives us to look for 'perfect' mates.

For 4,000 years makeup has been applied to enhance features and disguise blemishes. historical link.

Enhancing the eyes and lips of the female face is all about sex.

Darkening the upper eyelid is an effort to highlight the drooping eyelid effect (bedroom eyes) that occurs just before orgasm. Embellishing and reddening the lips mirrors the swelling of the stimulated labia. Plump lips are a sign of youth because they shrink as we age.

The infamous Golden_Ratio of 1:1.618 is the key to perfection from Fingers to Pyramids to the number of Petals on a flower to the zenith of Creation, the Human Face. Fibonacci link

The relationship between the key ingredients that make up the perfect human face, nose width, eye separation, cheeks, mouth to jawline all magically fall into this mathematical formula.beautyranges link

In Long Term Relationship searches Physical Appearance hovers around 3rd or 4th place in amongst the other important factors such as Intelligence, Dependability, Understanding, Emotional Stability, and Kindness. contemporarybeauty.

In Short Term Relationship searches when our 'looks' are regarded as optmized, from ages 14 to 24, Physical Appearance is generally rated as the ten most important factors by teens and young adults.

For over 100 years people have been bombarded with images of 'perfect' potential mates in advertising, magazines, movies, TV, and now the Internet. This is quite contrary to life 500 hundred years ago when beautiful people would have been more of a rarity. Talk about Shock The Inner Monkey. Physiologically this is devastating because people are secretly overwhelmed by the subconscious knowledge that thousands if not millions of 'better' mates are available to forward their DNA.

This perfect storm conditions of available beauty could explain a great deal about how superficial our modern culture has become. Why are we so obssessed with gorgeous Celebrities? Why do so many relationships fail now, too many options? How else can you explain wealthy paparrazi?

Obviously the advent of modern cosmetic trickery, the logical mathematical creation of more so called 'perfect' looking people (there are over 6 billion of us now do the math) and most of all, the technological wizardry of modern communications overexposes us to all of these beautiful retouched, unblemished, faces 24/7.
Homo escapeons aren't designed or have yet to socially evolve, to a level of sophistication that can handle all of this visual stimualtion.
Does it really matter if all of this phenomenon is an illusion?

Aside from the written word, is there ANYTHING on Earth as powerful as the image of the human face?


  1. "Shock The Inner Monkey"

    which one - the one that sees no evil?

    (what's an inner monkey?)

    personally, I like quirky faces

    altho, somewhat interestingly, "good looking" faces also indicate "good" fertility and "good" healthy strong genes (or so I have read in New Scientist magazine)

    and then of course there is the aspect that we each choose a mate on the same level of "good" looks as ourselves. . .

    a fascinating topic

  2. What? You missed the photos of a few plastic beauties? What else one can expect from you?

    I would say...(in)human faces are more popular. Whatever you may make of that!!

  3. Arguably there is little else with such power as the human face.

    An interesting radio programme on symmetry which touches on our ideas of beauty and how this is measured (or not) mathematically:>

    Or you could just try this out:>>

  4. i like the view,
    We are totally hardwired to respond like this.
    As a species humans have not had enough time to refine many of these qualities that served us so well when we were hunter gatherers living in segregated small clans.

    Most people do not fully appreciate that technology is WAY AHEAD OF US and we will probably never catch up...the technology will 'slow down' now and then to collect those humans worth keeping and breeding for maintenance purposes but we have pretty much designed our own obsolescence.
    Think the Terminator was far out?

    What are you implying? This is a serious scientificky thingamabob!

    Hard as it may be for you to accept but Salma, Monica, and Angelina, are not just impossibly beautiful, but they are fine examples of how 3.5 Billion years of evolutionary trial and error has succeeded in eventually perfecting the human face.
    Their bodies ain't bad either.

    The symmetry aspect is really bizarre...symmetrical athletes run faster! When they overlay that face chart it fits perfectly on most of the people that you would expect to find perfectly balanced faces like Movie Stars and Super Models. Perfect.
    Alrighty then! I had better have a look at your sites.
    I would guess that nothing else has ever been photographed, sketched, painted, or filmed, than the human face.
    It is THE ultimate cosmic artpiece.

  5. i love that "shock the innder monkey thing" dude!
    i actually thought that 1.618 thing was an advertising gimmick...
    i'm simply gawjiss, in fact- angelina and i are close personal friends and people often confuse us!

  6. Dios mio! So many questions WHERE do I start? Wait! Is this a quiz? Hmmm? ;-P

    Very well put... funny thing is that theh uman face has been on my mind as of late, what with so much sad talk of plastic surgery escalating...

    Plastic faces scare me. They really do. I have pondered deep and long over why and the only answer I arrive at is this... plastic faces do not register with my brain. The people behind the atrocity of the stretched-and-cut-and-sewn-and-lord-knows-what-else faces seem alien to me and their faces do not register and they fail to make an impression to me and what's more... yeah, you got it they scare me.

    So how such an atrocious, and growing, fad registers with others beats me...

    Which would raise the question of what beauty, true beauty is. Point well taken on the statistics and the perfect faces... I agree... but at some point it all must come to a stop, the physical may serve to catch much needed attention, whether on an evolutionary or emotional or purely physical scale, but if we do not move past it, it is all fluff for what such shows and studies fail to investigate is the soul, emotions, that energy behind the flesh...

    Rather than a plastic surgeon, I would recommend those seeking "perfection" visit a shrink because inevitably, we are all doomed to the same fate and that is the decay of the body and, ultimately, its death.

    And I for one have no problem with that!

    Another very thought provoking and brilliant post amigo mio! K-POW faboo FO SHO!

  7. YES! Salma Hyacks bod!

    That simple.

    Me so shallow.....hehehe

  8. When I see a beautiful face, I pause and admire it because it is pleasing to the eye. Just like I would admire a stunning landscape, a sunset, a pretty flower....all very pleasing to look at.

    Personally though I prefer a face that has something interesting about it and it must have at least one flaw like a scar for example. Its those faces that stay in my mind for more than a few moments.

    As for those that succumb to the knife in the name of defying old age and the ravages of time....people you look like hideous freak shows who can no longer show any emotion because your skin is so goddam tight it would split if you even grimaced.

    Now that I've put my 5 cents in I will move along and find a mirror to admire myself in....*giggle*

  9. Ah, you're just another pretty face. Weren't you considering a facelift just a week ago?

  10. Totally agree. THE FACE says is all..wins it all.

    I like Salma's looks..she's HOT.


  11. Serious scientific facts go above my head.

    Stick to simple laymans language.

  12. So sex is the reason I made effort to put makeup on today then? Wow!!!
    Eyes are the most important feature to me in the human face.

  13. I would do Keith Richards.

  14. angel-ina,
    Of course you are dahling! That Golden Rule 1:1.618 thingamabob is a bizarre coinky-dink that somebody was bound to latch onto or invent.
    Today I read that if your ring finger is longer than your index finger that you received more testosterone and are better in math and spatial skills...

    see, we are constantly trying out new theories on everything!

    miz bohemia,
    Greetings! You'll never guess who was on that program talking about the 'work' that she had done on her face, Joan Rivers!
    Yes. Other than Katherine Helmond's drumskin stretching facial makeover in the movie Brazil, I don't think that any human has ever had as much attention drawn to her face tuck as Joan.

    Now Joan is a funny lady and she has great gags about the whole thing but I would have loved her anyway because she is so funny.
    She can do whatever she wants to but it would be nice, as you suggest, if people deal with aging as a normal event..

    but we hate that and we don't want to get old or die!

    THE Michael,
    Ja Ja, Zalma es 'uber' SCHWING!

    angel without wings,
    I often wonder how many people would get a little work done if it was covered by our Healthcare?
    Suppose the government wanted everybody in the country to be beautiful so that they could lure more investment and tourism dollars...
    oh yeah I forgot California already does that...
    or as their Guvernator says, KAHLEEFORNYAAARH!

    without prejudice,
    Why would I tamper with this puss?
    Are you mad? Once my 'looks' go I will be forced to live by my 'wits',
    and then I will be totally f*%$#@!

    Helen of Troy had a face that launched ten thousand ships! Which reminds me WHY did they use Helen Kruger in TROY?
    Why didn't they spend a few more shekels and get an A Lister Stunning Beauty like Monica B-B-B-B-Belucci ((faints))

    As If! Gautami, I know that you could run mathematical rings around my logic until the numerical value of π was truncated to atleast 50 decimal places, which would be about 3.14159 26535 89793 23846 26433 83279 50288 41971 69399 37510!
    And yes I know that doesn't make any sense!

    Makeup is all about bringin' the sexy back...or as Meg Ryan would say,"YES YES YES!"

    Eyes that shift up and to the left: LIAR! Unless of course you are a true sociopath in which case you actually BELIEVE your own spin.
    Like Politicians who have told the same lie so many times that they actually start to think that it is true.

    Keef will be too hot for the likes of you once Pirates III comes out so you had better hurry.
    Oh yeah!
    He may also need another blood transfusion to get back into Canada.

  15. So what are you saying???? You are gonna go under the knife?


    We're still gonna die, regardless... bwahahahaahaaaa! ;-P

  16. miz bohemia,
    Dios Mio! No way are they touching this puss!
    I actually never gave it any thought because I have already surpassed my life expectancy based on my family genetics and the last thing that I ever thought of was survivng old age..never mind looking good when I am old.

    No sireee, everyday is gravy. I still fool the age/weight guessers at the summer carnival so that is good enough for me.
    What am I talking about don't men actually look more distinguished and and handsome when they get a little grey?
    Look at Clooney he has been grey for a decade and he ain't too hard on the eyes.

  17. Anonymous10:35 a.m.

    This is a Dove advert I thought was appropriate.

    The human face is a very powerful tool, agreed. But what about all this veil-related stuff (and please tell me if I'm talking out of my ass here). Isn't part of the whole muslim veil argument that it's a clash of cultures because in Arabic culture it is the eyes that do all the talking, not the face?

    I didn't put that very well but never mind.

    We have lots of arguments in Top Floor Teilhard about who is/isn't attractive. I think that Debbie Harry epitomises beauty, with Kate Moss coming a close second. Half the group, however, think that Moss is butt ugly. I think they're jealous.

    We all agree, however, that Johnny Depp is the most breath taking thing we have EVER seen...

  18. fathorse,
    The veil is 100% pure misogynistic bullying especially when forced upon all 4 wives allowed under the so-called rules.
    Don't get me started on that..anyway Christopher Hitchens is doing a marvellous job of questioning it in his new book God Is Not Great.

    Naturally uber model Kate Moss fit the mask perfectly on the program in question but personally I don't get her? I don't see one enticing feature..nothing clicks.
    Of course Mr. Depp had his day in the sun with Miss Moss so what do I know?

    If a fellow like Depp, who could have any woman in the world, and picks her, then I am obviously missing something.
    Heroin Chic is just not my cuppa tea is all!

  19. Our lips get smaller as we age? Holy hell mine are small enough already. I put lipstick on and half an hour later it's ridden up above onto non-lip areas. I have actually thought about getting collagen in my lips so they actually show - it's probably vanity but I think it would balance out my face! It's for me though - the BF would be horrified that I ever thought of doing such a thing.

  20. Anonymous1:24 p.m.

    Hmm, a veil debate would be very interesting :D The philosophy behind it is more to do with convenience than repression. But I sense I may be fighting a losing battle. Also, I'm only a whiny first-year, and I'm afraid of having my arrogance corrected...

  21. fathorse,
    Bring it on sista! Let's not forget to talk about the necessity of separating women from men at every level because of their obvious inferiority and uncleanliness!

    Those austere warmongering montheists in the barren desert were the polar opposites of the creators of goddesses who lived in the verdant, lush, edenic, surroundings of fertile river valleys and estuaries where life was a cyclical, consistent, joy and not a life and death challenge to survive from minute to minute((gasp)).

    We now return to our regular programming:
    Why can't women have 4 husbands?

    ps I know that you are kidding and obviously wonderful, bright, charming, open minded and fantastic,
    but speaking in general from experience
    most young people need to embrace their arrogance while it lasts because within a decade or so Life is going to render their cosmology completely useless.

    oh how I miss knowing everything like I did when I was 20!
    Damn, Life was simple and now it's all questions.

  22. Anonymous5:15 p.m.

    Meh - we can wait while you repress us. You're days are numbered. Soooooon you shall allll be bred out of the human race! HAHAHAHAHAAAA!

  23. What if you are like me with a face only a mother could... um.... like?

    I am a bit odd in my tastes, i tend to go for the freaks, and the oddities, people with real character...Looks are only skin deep.

    Sad exclsuion from the post is the injection of sausage toxin in to the forehead to look pretty, things we do for fame.

  24. fathorse,
    Don't I know it. We mutant males won't be necessary once females finally wrestle all economic and political power and quickly neutralize and disarm the males.
    Here in the WEST it won't be so tough but Pakistan, Iran, Somalia...big surprise.

    I'm glad that you used the expression meh..I am intrigued by it.

    I hope you realise that I am totally in favor of women taking over the universe..I constantly remind everyone (ad nauseum) that all vertebrates are created as females and males are therefore mutants.

    When my file comes up during the future roundup and elimination of males, please consider how supportive I was of your cause and put in a good word for me. Thanking you in advance,
    yours truly,

    I'm a shallow sonofabitch to admit that I am in awe of Monica Belucci and Salma Hayek but so be it.
    I am surprised that you would try to irritate the ladies by reminding them how much they desire an 'injection of sausage'.

    Your exact words not mine.
    Let's see you get out of that one!

  25. H.E. I wouldn't be persuaded to have any kind of plastic surgery even if it was covered by the health system or in fact, if someone paid for me to do it.

    My parents gave me this face, life gave me my character lines (I refuse to call them wrinkles) and I'm quite happy to go to my grave with the same face I was born with.

    The only thing I do to alter what age has dealt me is I do dye my hair. Grey is such a dreary colour.

  26. Sprinkles some water on HE's FACE! :)


  27. We're visual creatures for the most part, I guess. But it can only hold you up to a certain point (of course there are exceptions). For instance, I appreciate gorgeous men like any other female but attitude and intelligence count for a lot with me. I so get bored by attractive men who care more for their "toys" and who they play golf with.

    Plus it's relative. Agree with you re: Kruger's casting as Helen (isn't her name Diane?). Monica's much more arresting even deglamorized for Passion of the Christ -- my jaw dropped when i saw her in The Matrix.

  28. he, what an intriguing post this is. i've learned from watching american idol (ok, ok i admit it) that most people have average appearances that can easily be made attractive. i guess it depends on how someone wants to look and what their resources are.

    as for me, i know i'm not gorgeous but i do have a kind interesting face and most people are nice to me. for what that's worth!


  29. angel without wings,
    You are beautiful and getting rid of grey is the priviledge of your gender. Gentlemen do not speak of such matters in public.

    Why are you sprinkling me? Are you christening me? What? What?

    Monica in the Matrix..are you kidding me! Have you ever seen such perfection? Even in the passion.. dios mio!

    If we had access to all of the resources like those A list Stars we'd look pretty damn good too!
    This is weird but I actually hate seeing those Stars without all of their makeup...keep the illusion going.

  30. Was that a compliment or insult? Not that I care either way.

    Keshi was sprinkling water to spook you, I think.

    For someone who writes so much anthropological stuff, how come you missed my "Embalmed" post?

  31. gautami,
    "Not that I care either way."

    OUCHEE-You cut me deep Shrek!

    Dear Lady why must you persist on pouring salt on the gaping wound that is my heart.
    I am but a delicate, fragile, creature who is still young and impressionable and just finding his way in this wicked, wicked, world.

    I fear that I shan't go on but for another moment should your soul stealing reckless disregard for my emotionally fragile emotions continues.
    Quit playing games with my heart and what is left of my mind!


  32. Three other things I think are cool about humans and faces:

    Human babies naturally try and concentrate on anything that even resembles the construction of a face.

    The human face is broken into perfect geometry -- even those who are not beautiful. Check it out: The space between one's eyes is equal to the size of one's eye. the face is broken into thirds down its center: top of forehead (original hairline) to browbone, browbone to under nose, under nose to bottom of chin. I learned this from figure drawing class.

    And humans naturally try and see faces in most abstract arrangements.

  33. Cool post.Let's face it; I found this post fascinating even though none of the info is new to me. It makes me want to talk to you right now! I love anthro info, especially when combined with opinion, good philosophical questions, and ahhhhh, those Fibonacci numbers. (This artist also teaches math.)

    I'm sure in your research you found that more attractive people are deemed by the general populace to be more intelligent, more truthful, market items better, and a host of such "positive" characteristics attributed to them, based solely on their looks.
    Perceptions are, indeed, interesting.

    That said, your post is one of the many reasons, my blog doesn't show my face...(besides the probability of a global internet crash from such exposure ;)

    Oh: the person who said the human face is symmetrical is partially correct in that those measurements taught in figure drawing class are guidelines, but the statement that our faces are symmetrical is incorrect.

    No one's face or body in real life is perfectly symmetrical. That is also taught in figure (and life) drawing, besides picked up upon by those of us (artists or nonartists) who observe or draw others or ourselves. That asymmetry adds interest to each individual. Often, the asymmetry is very subtle, but it is there.

  34. Anonymous9:15 a.m.

    Apologies to the commenter above. I misread the word "geomtery" as symmetry. That person is correct since (obviously) geometry doesn't = symmetry. >>>>Wallops my imperfect eyes with a reminder to read more carefully!


  35. Mutha,
    Holy Rorschach Batman!
    Excellent info!
    I saw a doc that stated that the faces of human babies look like their fathers,
    this evolutionary adaptation is essential because paleo-Mommy can 'disguise' her fertility and paleo-Daddy has no other way of telling if it is his offspring, hmmm sort of looks like me....
    or as Michael Jackson sang
    "the kid is not my child WOOOO!" and moonwalked off to find another mate at the next clan.

    Outstanding. I understand that. Whenever they do a mirror image of a face there are two very distinct people staring back at you. We are lopsided. It is very strange.
    They were measuring the ears of sprinters because those with as close to perfect symmetry are FASTER! I suppose that the balance on a microscopic level plays out in some sort of tenth of a second advantage at the finish line.

    The handsome/honest effect is a bizarre adaptation? It is certainly a bonanza for televangelists and politicians.

    Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney is a present day example of how this effect comes into play
    (handsome is as handsome does)
    but the best example was the Kennedy/Nixon debate..
    those who watched on TV thought that JFK won and the Radio listeners believed that Nixon won.

  36. A perfect recent example of this whole phenomenon is football player Jesse Palmer.

    He's from Canada, played in the NFL as a quarterback for a bit, but was mostly a backup.

    His fame came when he was the so-called "star" on The Bachelor. He's a great-looking guy and he really launched that show into the ratings stratosphere.

    Could he play football, though? No. He just retired this become a pretty talking head on NFL broadcasts.

  37. but who or what is the Inner Monkey?

  38. without winning,
    See it is better to LOOK good than to feel good. The camera does love a handsome or pretty face and for whatever reason we are more likely to believe them than an ordinary face.
    Which makes me believe that NAKED NEWS, where the luscious lady announcers take off their clothes while they read the news, is definitely the wave of the future.

    I like the view,
    OK it is just some garble I made up that incorporates Desmond Morris's famous book the Naked Ape and Peter Gabriel's song Shock the Monkey.

    Stir that in with all of the New Age inner child drugstore psychology crapola and you've got yourself a phrase.

    Since we are all armchair sociologists these days it seems perfectly natural to make up stuff.

  39. I thoroughly enjoyed that show, he.I also found the hideous faces that were shown interesting as well -couldn't believe what I was seeing.

  40. I'm liking the Inner Monkey!

  41. Who wants an ugly face?

  42. I just want u to wake up LOL!


  43. lee,
    No kidding. I felt so sorry for those women. It was right out of the Elephant Man.


    Whaddaya mean wake up?

  44. H.E.-
    "Naked News": ROFLMAO!!!!
    (You're such a man!)Did you invent this or is there such a thing? Do tell.

    (Before other female readers rally to your defense and deem me sexist, I'm joking with you, b/c I relish visuals, even when not drawing nudes... but I am compelled to razz you.)

    Of course, how could I EVER believe you since your face is uh, rather assymetrical ( the photo here on the blog?)

  45. remember u fainted :)

    **A Lister Stunning Beauty like Monica B-B-B-B-Belucci ((faints))



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