Beauty More Than Just Skin Deep?
When it comes to the human face, the definition of beauty is elusive. We often hear patients who are not that far out of their forties—or even their thirties—complaining, “I just don’t feel beautiful anymore.” (What they really seem to be saying is, “Make me young again!”
Many of us answer that call any way we know how, by using our professions to help our patients feel better on the inside and the outside. This may be one reason that Americans today spend more money on beauty products than they do on social services or education. Nevertheless, the question “What is beautiful?” confounds us.
Women feel more beautiful when they are young
What, then, is beauty? Of course, there is physical beauty, which we see from the outside. Yet as cultures and cliques change, so too does our definition of beauty. The plump Rubenesque beauties of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe have given way to the current chant of “thin is in.” What of the face, however? Can the size of your facial features play a role in your perceived beauty to others and, possibly, yourself?
According to a study by Karl Grammer and Randy Thornhill on human facial attractiveness and sexual selection, published in the 1994 Journal of Comparative Psychology, the answer could be yes. Grammer and Thornhill claim, “The human face contains. . . facial features that develop or increase in size at puberty. . . .Enlarged jaws, chins, and cheekbones in men are examples of facial secondary sexual traits that are influenced by testosterone . . . largeness in these features are considered sexually attractive because of advertised immunocompetence.”
Enlarged jaws, chins, and cheekbones in men are examples of facial secondary sexual traits that are influenced by testosterone
So where do all these studies, quotes, and experts leave us? In our clinical practices, our focus is to improve areas on the face that stand out and detract attention from the eyes. The eyes should be the focus of the face, especially in social interactions. Features that are out of proportion to the rest of the face tend to draw the focus away from the eyes and create an imbalance to the face.
For instance, a large bulbous nose, sagging jowls, angry frown lines, and poor skin quality all tend to be distracting features. Using the latest in technology and computer simulation, we can now more clearly reveal what someone would look like after surgery; making side-by-side comparisons of before and after photos, we then decide together what the most ideal and natural outcome would be. People are often surprised by how even small changes can have a significant impact on one’s youthfulness and beauty.
Even small changes can have a significant impact on one’s youthfulness and beauty
Beauty Is Harmony
“Beauty is harmony.” So says the noted maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Stephen Marquardt, who has even created a scientific method of defining beauty to prove his theory. After years of studying beauty in a variety of cultures and
eras, from ancient times right up to the present, Dr. Marquardt concluded that the groups in question worship basically the same perceptions of facial beauty. Here is how he arrived at this conclusion:
We computer-analyzed photos of thousands of “attractive” faces from every geographic race on the planet. This analysis included a deconstruction of these faces to determine their precise geometric constitution and how these faces differed mathematically from average and unattractive faces. We then applied hundreds of geometric algorithms to the faces to determine a mathematic and geometric commonality between these images. Ultimately, this led to the construction of an entire series of unique geometric forms, which appeared to “predict” high attractiveness or “beauty.” We called these unique geometric forms “Archetypal Facial Mask Templates” or “Masks.”
Archetypal Facial Mask Templates
This sounds convincing, but can any equation based on hard measurements and empirical science really define something as esoteric and elusive as beauty? Or is it up to each individual to determine what beauty is—within oneself and about others? In the course of his studies, Dr. Marquardt developed and patented the “beauty mask.” This mask is a result of his cultural surveys on beauty and, according to Dr. Marquardt, reflects the fact that all groups have an international standard of beauty.
What Dr. Marquardt calls the Golden Proportion drives the construct of the mask: all the defining angles and features of a beautiful face—eyes, nose, brow, forehead, cheeks, and chin—are proportionate to one another. The doctor explains, “With the use of mathematics, computers, and massive databases of ‘attractive’ faces, we have been able to quantify facial attractiveness in a consistent mathematical computer model.” There are different masks for men and women, but both are built on the mathematical equations and the database of attractive faces.
Archetypal facial masks templates are built on the mathematical equations and the database of attractive faces
Amazingly, this mask aligns perfectly with beautiful faces throughout the ages, from Queen Nefertiti to Marilyn Monroe to Elizabeth Hurley. The mask is a perfect mathematic and geometric creation, and no biological system, or face, is perfect. However, the more closely any face fits the mask, the more beautiful it will be judged to be by other humans. Dr. Marquardt states that he has never found a face that is perceived as highly attractive or beautiful that does not closely correlate with the form of the mask.
When It Comes to Beauty, You Are the Beholder
We concede that, like harmony, beauty is a pleasing notion that’s equally hard to define. What of inner beauty, however? We all know that even though it’s hard to define, inner beauty is often as obvious as outer beauty. There are people who not only look more beautiful because of the passions and motions they hold inside, they also make us feel prettier just by being in their presence.
We are often introduced to people who are not attractive on the outside, according to social norms; however, after spending a few minutes with them, we realize their inner beauty. This inner beauty can instantly overpower outer features. Conversely, we often meet so-called physically beautiful people, such as actors or models, with whom we spend enough time to realize
that they are so lacking inside, it begins to diminish their outer beauty.
Lacking inside begins to diminish outer beauty
In our offices, we see beauty constantly. There are the classic beauties we can spot instantly, such as actors and actresses, models, or hosts and hostesses; they fit the very narrow definition of beauty as it applies to height, weight, skin, hair, and symmetry. Then there are the radiant beauties who defy convention yet still manage to be attractive through a variety of demonstrable features such as athleticism, enthusiasm, fitness, and overall health. Finally, there are the hard-to-define beauties, those whose inner beauty radiates throughout and not only overshadows theirphysical imperfections but makes one forget about the very qualities they are coming to correct.
We chose to write this chapter on youth and beauty for one simple reason: most people who come to us want to feel more beautiful or recapture their youth. You might be coming to this book with the same sentiments. If we were to equate one single word with beauty, it would be confidence. Above and beyond all the physical parameters, measurements, and definitions that we can apply to physical beauty itself, it all comes down to this: those patients who walk into—or out of—our offices feeling more self-confident than ever before are resonating the meaning of true beauty, in our opinion.
Beautiful people feel more self-confident
As physicians, we listen to the patient first—and counsel second. Far from fitting the stereotype of Beverly Hills dermatologists and plastic surgeons who counsel “more, more, more,” we often counter with “less is more.”
After all, what a patient often thinks is an imperfection can actually be a huge part of his or her charm. The best part about our job is that we serve only to make the patient happy. In our one-on-one consultations, we discuss all options: surgical and nonsurgical, extreme and casual, temporary and permanent. Each patient receives a specific diagnosis because each patient is
a unique individual.
Now you know what we can do to make you more beautiful, but what can you do? Can what you do influence how people think you look? Can what you do influence how you think you look? Research seems to indicate that the most effective method of self-beautification is also the easiest and the cheapest: smile.
Smile is the most effective, easiest and cheapest method of self-beautification
According to a 1999 article in the European Journal of Social Psychology, “it was found that smiling increased rated attractiveness when compared to a non-smiling neutral expression…. It was also demonstrated that smiling subjects were attributed greater degrees of sincerity, sociability, and competence.”
A report in the February 1984 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reiterates these findings: “Target persons were less attractive when posing sad expressions than when posing neutral or happy expressions, which did not differ. . . . Both facial and bodily attractiveness were predictive of overall attractiveness, but the face was a slightly more powerful predictor.”
Make yourself feel more confident
That’s good news, because confidence is internal, not external. Yet you feel it when you see it, and this is where we often come into play. Everyone has physical imperfections that he or she would like to improve. Our goal with our patients is to help them feel better about themselves and, in the process, more confident.
Today, tomorrow, and the next day, you are already a wholly unique and beautiful individual. What can we do to make you more beautiful? The answer is equally simple: make you feel more confident.