The Human Face – Is Beauty Really In The Eye Of The Beholder?

I’m back with yet another TV recommendation: The Human Face which is, shockingly, about our face! It’s a 4-part series which aired on the BBC and presented by John Cleese (who’s just no Michael Mosley) that reveals the story behind everything related to the face: expressions, features and appearance, and celebrities using the help of true life stories to illustrate the points.

Though I was not immediately taken by this programme (mainly due to the cheesy and not very humorous “jokes”), I was fascinated by their 3rd episode: Survival of the Prettiest. The statement “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” has been reiterated many times but this programme challenges this theory by revealing how the majority of people find the same features attractive. The prettier a face, the better health it implies, suggesting that the person is more fertile so a better mate. Call this vanity or just living in this superficial world, I was fascinated by what was seen as the most beautiful face: a combination of adult characteristics (like high cheek bones) along with baby ones (most obviously big eyes). Make-up is made use of in order to accentuate aspects of your face. One fact that astonished me was the reason for having “smokey” eyes:

The other thing that  intrigued me was, being a mathematician, the degree to which maths plays a part in deciphering the “perfect” face: the golden ratio (1:1.618) has been used to geometrically figure out all the proportions of the face to form a map of this face, known as the “Beauty Mask” (which are often used in plastic surgeries with facial deformities).

The other episodes are Here’s Looking At You where you discover the mysteries of identity and face recognition; Fame And Infamy which demonstrates what memorable elements agents look for in a face, Secrets And Lies displays how expressions communicate with people.


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