In the west, models reflect our society's particular standard of female beauty. The perfect female beauty should have the following characteristics:
Of course the woman described above probably doesn't, and never has, actually existed. Even supermodels have defects and the media representations of perfect women are illusions generated at great expense by make-up artists, lighting, photographers, computers, etc.
Who is the Fairest of them All?
In November 2001 the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) revealed the results of a poll of its membership.
According to the Academy, Catherine Zeta-Jones is the "ideal face of femininity". Nicole Kidman came in close second with 22 percent of the votes, while Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow tied for third place with 11% of the votes.
In an effort to help better understand the dynamics of perceived beauty, the AAFPRS surveyed its membership - facial plastic surgeons, true face specialists - to rate the facial features of several celebrities. "While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, there is a real mathematical equation for measuring a person's attractiveness. In fact, the skeletal proportions are the true determining factors," says AAFPRS President Dr. Shan Baker. "Not only should the face have high cheek bones and a clean complexion, but a well-proportioned face will be divided into equal thirds when horizontal lines are drawn through the forehead hairline, the brow, the base of the nose and the edge of the chin. And when analysing the face vertically, the length of the nose should occupy one-third of the total vertical height of the face."
So, why was Catherine Zeta-Jones chosen as the ideal face of femininity by
27% of the facial plastic surgeons? "The face of Catherine
Zeta-Jones displays many features of the ideal face of femininity,"
says Baker. "She has a short delicate jaw with small chin and nose,
all of which are desirable for an attractive female face. Her lavish lips,
well-developed cheek bones and prominent eyes give her the face of the new
And as for Academy Award winner Julia Roberts ... her eyes have it! Twenty-three percent of the AAFPRS surgeons believe that Julia Roberts has the ideal set of eyes. "Large eyes with ample space between upper eyelashes and brow are attractive features," says Baker. "This combined with expressive animation and framed with strong arched brows gives Julia Roberts the perfect set of female eyes."
Relative Importance of Physical Characteristics
[Note: This section gives the results of QueenDom's on-line survey on physical attraction, this compiled the opinions of more than 10,000 visitors to arrive at a rough image of the Venus and Adonis of the 21st century.]
Here is how Men and Women rated individual features in the opposite sex. The numbers represent the mean score of men, women, and the two combined.
The voting was on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 is a turn-off and 5 is very attractive.
Preference for hair length varies between men and women is probably due to cultural influences. Women don't like shoulder length hair on a man, but men don't mind medium or short hair on a women, in fact very few men find short'ish hair to be unattractive. Women, in general, don't like baldness.
Men are more enthusiastic about blond hair than women are (70% of men find this above average on the attractive scale, compared to 47% of women). So maybe blond women do have more fun!
Women are much less tolerant than men of red hair. 57% of women didn't like red hair, compared to only 25% of men who found this to be unappealing.
Everybody likes clear skin, since it is an indication of health. In general, more men and women seem to find dark or olive skin more attractive than pale skin. Perhaps pale skin suggests unhealthiness to many, while darker skin is a sign of health and robustness. But the cultural idea that tanned skin is healthy is slowly changing as the incidence of skin cancer rises from sun bathing and sun beds.
Freckly skin is viewed with reserve. Women are more likely than men to find freckly faces less attractive.
People feel quite strongly about white, straight teeth. The main concern is definitely hygiene. Yellow, stained or rotten teath and the bad breath that might accompany them is for most people a rather unappetizing image.
In contradiction to
other studies, the poll shows that most men claim to prefer a thin woman -
although the hip-to-waist ratio isn't shown.
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Copyright (c) 2002, Annie Richards
Last updated: 2 September, 2002