Home > Media Influence, Methodology, The Face > Asymmetry in Supermodels

Asymmetry in Supermodels

November 1, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

A common goal in most oculoplastic procedures is to increase symmetry. In an effort to establish baseline measures in attractive subjects, Ing et.al. (2006) measured ocular asymmetries in male and female models’ photos in fashion magazine advertisements (e.g., Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Vogue, Gentleman’s Quarterly, etc.). They found significant asymmetries in:

  • horizontal fissure width (1)
  • upper central lid fold (5)
  • upper temporal lid fold (7)
  • central eyebrow height (9)
  • temporal eyebrow height (11)
  • medial canthal to midline distance
  • pupil to midline distance
  • orbital distopia (asymmetrically displaced eyes)

While I applaud the effort to establish realistic expectations of beauty, I do not believe that the methods used in this study can reach valid conclusions regarding each of the numbered measures in the bulleted list above. Each of these measures can vary based on facial expression (if you like, you can demonstrate this point to yourself in front of a mirror). Even in cases where fashion models’ expressions appear neutral in a magazine ad, we cannot assume that subtle asymmetries are not the result of subtle expressions – as opposed to assuming they result from structural asymmetries.

That being said, attractive models are not always perfectly symmetrical. A cursory visual inspection of beauty shots (essentially, close-ups of faces intended to look beautiful) will reveal asymmetries in beautiful models that are visible to the naked eye.

Wayne Hooke

ResearchBlogging.orgIng E, Safarpour A, Ing T, & Ing S (2006). Ocular adnexal asymmetry in models: a magazine photograph analysis. Canadian journal of ophthalmology. Journal canadien d’ophtalmologie, 41 (2), 175-82 PMID: 16767204

  1. December 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

    Studies have also shown that people find perfectly symetrical images of people to be unnattractive so this study does not point out anything new or unheard of. Also studies also show (and it only takes common sense to see they are right) that too assymetrical is also unnattractive.

  2. whooke
    December 19, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Good point. Most current beauty research is done using neutral expressions, flat lighting, etc. It’s possible that these researchers wanted to get more “real-world” data.

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