A 2004 study by Exeter University developmental psychologist Alan Slater revealed that contrary to the popular adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” objective standards do exist.
Slater found that newborn infants spent more time looking at photographs of people with attractive faces than of people with average faces.
“Babies are born with a detailed representation of the face that allows them to detect and recognize faces,” Dr. Slater said in New Scientist. “So attractiveness is not simply in the eye of the beholder, it’s in the brain of the newborn infant right from the moment of birth, and possibly prior to birth.”
Three researchers from Northwestern University and Smith College, wrote in “The Political Gender Gap: Gender Bias in Facial Inferences that Predict Voting Behavior” that our preferences might be ingrained because of our evolutionary history and expectations imposed by society.
They found that we naturally associate certain facial features with attractiveness, dominance, and affiliation or approachability. For example, “facial attractiveness in females has been associated with higher estrogen levels,” meaning a woman with a beautiful face is more likely to produce offspring.
We also find some facial features more attractive due to expectations imposed by society, according to their research. For instance, they write that females are considered more attractive when their faces have “baby-faced” features like small chins or thin eyebrows because society has labeled women as less physically strong and assertive than men, whose faces are more attractive when they have thick eyebrows, square faces and large chins.
So should people without the so-called desired facial features deal with it? Do you play the hand you’re dealt, or do you ask for a reshuffle?
A new ABC show called “Dating in the Dark” poses that question to three male and three female contestants in each episode. As the name implies, they get to know each other without the lights on, taking looks out of the equation. They later have the opportunity to see what their date looks like. Most of the contestants have chosen to not go on another date after seeing someone even though they had connected in the dark.
While I’m not planning on getting cosmetic surgery, I can’t speak for a duckling ditched one too many times. If someone believes altering physical appearance will improve his or her quality of life, I say go for it.
A study by the University of Buffalo professor had 133 college students turn in essays about a comment someone made that stuck with them. The essays about negative comments were mostly related to physical appearance. The authors expected to be rejected based on their appearance. Many were interested in cosmetic surgery.
Over 10.2 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the United States in 2008, according to the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Botox was the most popular overall with 2,464,123 procedures.
2.2 million, or 22 percent, of the cosmetic procedures performed in 2008 were for patients between the ages of 19 and 34.
Maybe cosmetic surgery is drastic; maybe you should work with what you’ve got. But I’m not going to blame someone for throwing their cards down on the table and demanding a better hand.