Symmetrical faces are usually considered to be more attractive. One theory is that the trait is a signal of genetic quality or fertility.
Researchers used photos of Europeans, the Hadza of Tanzania (one of the last hunter-gatherer cultures), and macaque monkeys. People were asked to judge the masculinity of the most and least symmetric pictures. Symmetric males had more masculine facial proportions and symmetric females had more feminine facial proportions.
These findings support the claim that the masculinity or femininity of faces is linked with symmetry, and therefore advertise good genetic quality. Beauty is something that many people covet. It’s the reason why in 2007 nearly 12 million cosmetic procedures were performed, and why millions of men and women across the globe allow themselves to be nipped and tucked, despite the risks, pain and high costs involved. It’s all in the name of beauty.
And while I certainly don’t advocate any surgery that isn’t absolutely necessary, the fervent search for beauty that many people undergo may not be entirely in vain.
One study in the Journal of Economic Psychology found that people who are the most attractive make 12 percent more money than those who are less good-looking. They even found that attractive people tend to be less selfish, more successful, and treated more positively than their less attractive peers.
But what exactly makes someone “attractive,” and can it actually impact your health?
Beauty in Symmetry
A person can be beautiful or ugly for any number of reasons, but for the purpose of this article, let’s define “beauty” as a well-formed, symmetrical face. Numerous studies suggest that people tend to prefer symmetrical faces to more imperfect ones, but why?
Does a symmetrical face really mean that you have a better life expectancy or a healthier future than someone with a slightly asymmetrical face does?
Well, if you look back on the research of Dr. Weston A. Price, it just might.
Dr. Price is best known for his work on dental health. His classic book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration is full of wonderful pictures documenting the perfect teeth of the native tribes he visited who were still eating their traditional diets. But among the photos of perfectly straight and white teeth, you will also notice very well-formed facial features.
These people from regions as varied as Africa, the Swiss alps, the Polynesian Islands and even the Arctic Circle, also were remarkably free from the diseases that are plaguing people today: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hemorrhoids, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more.
Now, there is a very interesting article on the Weston A. Price Foundation’s site, and if you have some free time I suggest you read it in its entirety. It’s written by a holistic dentist, Dr. Raymond Silkman, and it delves into the relationship between proper form and development and proper physical functioning of your body.
According to Silkman, “children or adults who have faces that are narrow and long, who have lower jaws that are not developed properly, or who have a profile view showing a very weak chin” or crowded teeth may face hardships because of musculo-skeletal strain and an improperly developed skull.
What types of hardships? Silkman lists:
- Flat arches and an increased need for hip and knee replacement surgeries
- Negative effects on brain function and mental clarity
- Vision problems such as astigmatism or myopia
- Snoring, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders
- Chronic ear and sinus infections
- Dark patches under your eyes, sagging and wrinkles
How Do You Get a “Well-Formed Face”?
Going back to the pictures in Price’s book -- the ones of the well-formed faces -- these features began to diminish when the native cultures strayed from their native diets (and began to eat processed, nutritionally inferior foods instead).
Price’s work suggests that our faces are literally showing the ramifications of eating a mostly processed food diet over the course of generations. Now, Silkman says, the features of a truly well-developed face (a well-developed lower jaw, a broad middle portion, smoothness under the eyes, such as in the photos from Silkman's article below) are usually found on people from rural or isolated areas -- or among those who have consumed much more traditional diets.
And, he says, these people are often “involved with professional sports and/or jobs we consider menial, such as doing our gardening, housework and construction work, and even raising our children -- people who are able bodied and capable.”
These changes occurred slowly, over the course of many generations, but a more obvious example of the link between facial features and health is a child who was exposed to alcohol while in the womb.
Fetal alcohol syndrome almost always results in facial abnormalities such as small eye openings, a thin upper lip, a sunken nasal bridge and a short, upturned nose. These children also suffer from related heart defects, vision problems, mental retardation and hyperactivity.
So when it comes to facial features and health, the link can be quite strong.
What Does All of This Mean?
To me, it’s one more great reminder of the importance of eating traditional, whole foods. If you are a woman who is planning to have children, you especially can nurture your future child by eating the foods that nature intended you eat.
But even for yourself, and no matter what your facial features are, you can help to nourish your body in this same way, simply by eating the right foods.
I think you’ll agree that when you do this, you’ll feel vibrant and alive, and the healthy glow that results is one of the most beautiful features that any person can hope to achieve.