How I started to discover the answer to facial beauty

This is a follow up to my discussion about how I began to do what I do and what my fascination is regarding facial plastic surgery.  During residency, we were required to write a scientific paper.  These beginnings into research gradually directed me into my current strong interest in the field of facial aesthetics or the theories regarding facial beauty.  I knew that I wanted to make a strong contribution to my field but I didn’t want to write on a frivolous subject.  So I looked into issues that could make a big impact.  In one of my blogs, I talked about how I found that our current understand of facial beauty were still based on theories that were from the 1400’s with little improvement in our understanding.  These rules that we were still basing our decision making on were called the neo classical canons from Leonardo Da Vinci.  It has been only recently in the past few years that we have begun to find in our scientific discovery that these rules don’t differentiate the beautiful from the average.  Dr Farkas wrote a lot of papers on this subject.  Some people have found that averageness is beautiful.  Another author found in his study of inmates, to look for facial characteristics that would suggest a greater tendency to commit crimes, took the average proportions of the inmates to look for these traits. What he found was that the average proportions actually created a face that was more beautiful than the rest of the inmates.  This is were averageness is beautiful as an idea became popular.  Further studies by Perett and colleagues, published in Nature, have shown that something more than average creates beautiful.   But we still didn’t know the answers.

One night, when I was in Syracuse for an interview. I couldn’t sleep.  My mind was busily thinking about the answer to facial beauty.  It was then that I had an “aha” moment, when I discovered the Circles of Prominence.  I knew that a theory had to be based on something that we concentrated on a lot when we look at the face.  Naturally I looked to the eyes.  But what was it that was important.  I concluded that it was the iris, the colored portion of the eyes.  That is probably the reason why our whites are so stark white to bring out contrast of the iris color.  The other idea that I found very useful during my studies in mathematics is the values zero and infinity.  Most all numbers are between these to extremes.  In the face there has to be an ideal from zero and infinity.  If we spend so much time looking at the iris, my feeling was that the iris was that ideal between zero and infinity.  Hence the width of the nasal bridge, nasal tip size, distance from the nose to the upper lip, the height of the lower lip are all one iris width.From there I started thinking about the other rules of facial beauty.  You can read more about this by reading my paper.

Thanks for reading, Dr Young

Dr Young specializes in Facial Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery and is located in Bellevue near Seattle, Washington

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