Why was the answer to facial beauty so hard to find?

Why have we taken so long to figure out what makes us beautiful.  Even today’s most up to date theories on beauty are based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Neoclassical Canons.  One rule is the rule of thirds where the distance from the hairline to the area in between the eyes is equal to the distance from there to the bottom of the nose, which is in turn equal to the distance from the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin.  His rules go on and on with different measurements.  It has been shown by many researchers that these measurements and rules really don’t define beauty let alone a major percentage of the population (ie Farkas and colleagues). Others have attempted to answer this question by using the greek number phi.  Some have taken great lengths to prove this like Dr Marquadt.  But all this number is, I’m sorry fellow researchers, is really just the proportion of 2/3’s and 1/3’s which many things in nature can be explained by.  Furthermore all of these theories are based on landmarks on the face that are easily identifiable (such as the hairline, inside and outside of the eyes) but really don’t grasp our attention when we view a face.  As I explained earlier, the iris grasps most of our attention and because of this, it dictates almost everything on our face and the basics of beauty are derived from its shape and width.  But these theories did dominate our thinking because essentially it was easier to form a theory based on these easily identified landmarks.  It is much harder to define beauty based on shades of light which the Circles of Prominence is based on.  But these shades of light are what our brains use to determine much of the beauty in our faces.

The other reason beauty was hard to find was due to the many beautiful faces out there that were very close to the ideal but varied from it by very small increments.  Because of all of these beautiful people, easily identifiable elements were hard to pin down.  Furthermore, because beauty is determined largely by these subtleties of light the ideal was harder to find.

The way we sense beauty itself probably has played a huge factor in keeping us from the secrets.  First of all we sense beauty from the right brain.  But, we think concretely and mathematically about our world form the left brain.  In essence, there was a continental divide.  Why is this important? Well our brains are separated from each side based on simple anatomy. The right and left brains are connected by the corpus collusum which is much smaller than the right and left brains.  Hence we communicate with the right and left brains through this smaller conduit and hence a lot of information is lost. The side of the brain that we appreciate beauty is separated by the side of our brain that is trying to identify those elements that we find beautiful.

To further expound on this thought, many parts of our brain sense beauty.  When we see someones lips, the parts of the brain that senses the touch from our own lips is in another part of the brain separated from our right part that senses beauty mostly.  Also the part of our brain that interprets and makes us sense emotions also plays an important part in our interpretation of beauty.  When we see a beautiful person, our hearts beat stronger and our blood pressure rises and this is located in the deep parts of our brain called the autonomic system at the base of the brain.  This part of the brain which senses beauty is even more further from the left concrete and mathematical part of our brain.

More to come…

Thanks for reading, Dr Young

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

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