Thursday, October 4, 2007

Facial Symmetry- Piercings and Beauty Spots

As we have all learned in social psych and cognitive psychology- our brains prefer a symmetrical face. Whether we agree with it or not, there seems to be a wealth of literature stating that facial symmetry is a sign of beauty.

There are two issues that i am perplexed by...

BEAUTY SPOTS (MOLES)- If facial symmetry is so important, then why do some of the most beautisul women in the world have beauty spots.. these are clearly not adding to the symmetry of the face.

Many 'beautiful' celebrities have beauty spots-- sarah jessica parker, angelina jolie, cindy crawford etc etc...

See the pictures below and decide whether you think the beauty spot makes a difference-

PIERCINGS- This time, a voluntary way to make your face non-symmetrical- Think fergie, Pink, Kelly Clarkson- Do you think it adds to their facial attractiveness or detracts from it?

What do you think about symmetry?
Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia about facial symmetry and evolutionary theory
Edler cited research supporting the claim that bilateral symmetry is an important indicator of freedom from disease, and worthiness for mating. Facial asymmetries and minor physical anomalies begin to appear early in embryonic development, mainly the first trimester of pregnancy, and can be a sign of instability during this growth. Fluctuating asymmetry (random differences between two sides, as opposed to the deliberate natural asymmetry in some animals) develop throughout the lifespan of the individual and is a sign of the phenotype being subjected to some levels of stress.
The ability to cope with these pressures is partly reflected in the levels of symmetry. A higher degree of symmetry indicates a better coping system for environmental factors. While the visible signs of this may not be particularly apparent, it is thought that they have at least a subconscious effect on people's perception of their beauty. Zaidel et al. in an empirical study upholds the claim that facial symmetry may be critical for the appearance of health. Their study disputes, however, the beauty or attractiveness claim.
Facial symmetry is neither the only trait nor is it necessarily the most important trait of what a culture considers attractive. The competing aesthetic theory of wabi sabi posits the existence of beauty through imperfection.


Carla said...

Wow Beck!It is very interesting that symmetry naturally seems to be begin in fetal development! It now makes much more sense to me why symmetry can be associated with health and lower levels of stress and why this is evolutionally instilled as having so much value.

Though this said, since the lecture and readings last week I have been troubled by the way in which people place so much value on appearance and facial symmetry. It was really reasuring to hear that there is also theory supporting the alternate hypothesis of Wabi-sabi. While I don't think this theory is perfect either, being based around the idea that nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect sits reassures me that there are at least some individuals who do not either conciously or unconciously place so much value on appearance. Thanks sharing this information!


Erin said...

Hi Beck,

Your blog is always so interesting to read! I think it's funny that the way people value beauty and attractiveness really changes as you get older. I think back to primary school and high school years where being "pretty and thin" meant you would be popular and if you were considered ugly you were a loser. Who determined who was pretty and who was not?? I agree that real beauty is on the inside although many people these days still do not see this. I actually find that sometimes you can think someone is really attractive but they become less so when you get to know them, as well as someone who you may think is pretty ordinary and of average attractiveness becoming so much more attractive once you get to know them because of their personality.

ZPeel said...

Hey Beck,
I found this post very interesting as it reminded me of when I studied Psychology in College and this topic came up. I remember watching a video surrounding face symmetry and perceived levels of attractiveness. In this video it showed that some of the top supermodels have symmetrical faces - something quite rare, and they showed that the symmetry probably contributed to their success as a supermodel. I found this interesting at the time, because the girls they showed were very beautiful, but in comparison to the example shown within the lecture I preferred the other face as it looked more natural.
This is an interesting concept as many people do have piercings or beauty spots which create an unbalance in this sense; however I think (some, usually most) piercings and all beauty spots are interesting and look good. In reference to your comments on beauty spots I remember hearing somewhere that when Cindy Crawford first started modeling they told her she would have to get her mole removed before she would ever make it....well I guess someone was wrong as you can see by her success. This makes me think that whoever told her that was trying to balance her face symmetry as this would create a different perception... in their view anyway. I think natural beauty spots are great (I have two) as they help to create a little bit of individualisation and uniqueness. This is an interesting topic as everyone would have a different concept on what they perceive as beautiful.


cicilya said...

Hi all,
This Blog is an intresting one because it is discussing about piercing and beauty spots...moles are always the part of a beautiful of a woman...piercing changes the looks of a woman,i mean the face looks pretty....