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Anatomy of Beauty . Anatomy 5217 Richard Wassersug Fall, 2007. Symmetry. The Concept of Fluctuating Asymmetry a measure of developmental stability examples, breast asymmetry, pelvis, leg length, dancing styles Scoliosis, back pain Voice quality and symmetry Implication to fitness

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anatomy of beauty
Anatomy of Beauty

Anatomy 5217

Richard Wassersug

Fall, 2007

  • The Concept of FluctuatingAsymmetry
    • a measure of developmental stability
      • examples, breast asymmetry, pelvis, leg length, dancing styles
    • Scoliosis, back pain
    • Voice quality and symmetry
  • Implication to fitness
    • Symmetry reflects “breeding qualities” such as disease resistance, desirable genes, healthy diet and potential reproductive success.
on averaging and esthetic
On Averaging and Esthetic

Computer morphing and beauty—the more faces used to “morph” a common face, the more attractive the face is generally judged to be.

Hence, humanbeauty is closer to theaverage than to an extreme.


Under stabilizing natural selection, the averageindividual is likely to be the most fit.


Androgyny and Michael Jackson

  • …or on looking pretty, but not looking normal.
    • Examples:
    • An androgynous appearance is “averaging” of male and female traits. This can appear “pretty,” but at the same time not necessarily normal or natural.
    • Michael Jackson = mix of male/female,
    • black/white features.
more on morphing faces
More on “Morphing” Faces
  • Photographs of human faces judged most attractive are typically also most symmetrical, and the degree of facial symmetry generally coincided with body symmetry.
  • However manipulated facial photographs of people where mirror images of left and right sides were matched to produce perfect symmetry were not invariable selected as most attractive. Hence some asymmetry in a person’s face may enhance beautiful…or at least help make it look “natural.”
  • Swaddle JP & I.C. Cuthill, IC 1995 Asymmetry and human facial attractiveness: symmetry may not always be beautiful. Proc. Roy. Soc. London B 261: 111-116.
the golden mean
The Golden Mean
  • A________________C_________B
  • such that: AB/AC = AC/BC = 1.6180339875...  

With respect to human body proportions, the navel divides the body’s height at the Golden Mean. There are several other examples in the human face and body; e.g., ratio of phalangeal elements in human hand.

Also about where most people part their hair.

log spiral
Log Spiral

1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…

fibonacci series
Fibonacci Series

Fibonacci numbers & the Golden Mean

  • If we take the ratio of two successive numbers in Fibonacci's series, (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, ..) and we divide each by the number before it, we will find the following series of numbers:
  • 1/1 = 1, 2/1 = 2, 3/2 = 1·5, 5/3 = 1·666..., 8/5 = 1·6, 13/8 = 1·625, 21/13 = 1·61538...

Female Beauty & Sexual Attractiveness

Youthful —> high fecundity.

Virginal appearance/status —> assurance of paternity for male.

Waist to hip ratio —> esthetically most appealing ratio does have the highest fecundity.

Breast —> fat stores plus mammary glands

Fat reserves for fetus

Milk for young


Male Beauty

Measures of strength

• Shoulder width, height

Facial hair

• Accentual jaws; which are important anatomical structures used in fighting and killing.

Pitch of voice

• Women and children: high pitch

• Men: low pitch

• Due to hormonal influences at puberty

false versus true advertising
False Versus True Advertising
  • In males…
  • In females…
  • What do humans do to enhance beauty/attractiveness?
  • Cost/benefits?