We’re editing and filtering in a desperate bid to make ourselves look more beautiful but, according to science, we’re making ourselves ugly.
Why might you be attracted to one face over another? It’s an age-old question thought to be too subjective to be worth any real scientific scrutiny, perhaps.
The multimillion-pound cosmetics industry demonstrates the huge level of interest in how we look. But attractiveness is not, as you might at first think, linked with distinctiveness. According to leading Harley Street cosmetic doctor, dermatologist, hair surgeon and award-winning author, Dr Max Malik, it’s actually quite the opposite.
‘Our preference for attractive faces exists from early infancy and is robust across age, gender and ethnicity’ explains Dr Malik. ‘The quest to define facial beauty either by the size or shape of isolated facial features (e.g., eyes or lips) or by the spatial relations between facial features dates back to antiquity, when the ancient Greeks believed beauty was represented by a golden ratio of 1:1.618’
Now, according to Mr Malik, there are new golden ratios at play when it comes to facial beauty and, as such, he has developed his own, trademarked ‘normalisation ratios’.
And when presented with a patient’s face his aim may be to achieve the perfect look – but only within a certain realm of beauty.
He says, ‘generations of healthy mate selection may act as evolutionary averaging process. This process leads to the propagation of healthy individuals with physical characteristics, including faces, that approximate the population average. As a result, we are biologically predisposed to find average faces attractive.’
But now, with the introduction of social media and face editing software such as FaceTune and Snapchat, Dr Malik suggests that we’re actually taking our looks past this normal realm and we’re making ourselves, well, ugly. Furthermore, people are then opting for cosmetic enhancements like lip fillers to take their looks into the abnormal with alarming results. And while we may have now been preconditioned to see this as socially acceptable online – our deeper, innate understanding of beauty and attraction will be somewhat marred by an oversized pout and too angular jawline.
‘Beauty is never abnormal’, he says.
He points to celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Scarlett Johannson who have amplified their looks but remained within the realms of ‘normality’ and contrasts this to celebrities who have openly acknowledged overstepping the line – such as Courtney Cox and Meg Ryan.
Dr Malik is keen to share case studies whereby patients have opted for a look which is beyond this normal realm to then see Dr Malik to have fillers dissolved and their faces balanced to bring their faces back into the normal realm of beautification. He also is happy to invite journalists into his clinic too for a complimentary treatment to further demonstrate his ‘normalisation ratios’ and beautification techniques.