World's beautiful women deny the law of averages

BABY-FACED women are considered beautiful because of Darwinian evolution rather than the influence of Hollywood, a study by psychologists suggests.

The assets of the typical screen goddess or catwalk supermodel - high cheek-bones, large eyes, full lips, clear skin and a cute chin - send an age-old signal to all races of youthfulness and fertility.

A scientific study of female faces flatly contradicts new-age feminist ideas, epitomised by the American writer Naomi Wolf who has argued that there is no such thing as a quality called beauty which 'objectively and universally exists'.

Researchers have found that female facial beauty appears to be universally accepted and transcends racial and national boundaries. The work suggests the appraisal of beauty has a deep-seated biological explanation.

The psychologists used computer-enhanced pictures of Caucasian and Oriental female faces in a survey of men and women from Japan and Britain. The men and women in both countries agreed on the same features which made a face - whether from their own or another racial group - more appealing.

The results of the study, published in today's Nature, also contradict an idea dating back more than a century - that a beautiful face is appealing because it is a collection of average features. In fact people in the survey invariably found certain key features, such as size of eyes, more attractive if they were not average.

David Perrett, a psychologist from the University of St Andrews in Fife, said the advent of computer graphics, which can distort a face slightly and produce a single composite image from a number of different faces, has revolutionised the study of attractiveness.

'It was thought for some time that attractiveness of faces was the result of a combination of average features. Our results are a flat contradiction of this. If anything there is an evolutionary direction away from the average,' Dr Perrett said.

He and his two colleagues - Keith May and Sakiko Yoshikawa - have discovered a tendency to like those traits associated with youthfulness in women.

As a woman becomes older the lower half of her face begins to fill out and her eyes begin to appear smaller because the skin around them becomes less elastic. There appears to have been an evolutionary advantage in looking younger, with high cheek-bones and larger- than-average eyes, Dr Perrett said. 'A lot of cosmetics are designed to accentuate cheek-bones and make the eyes stand out more.'

(Photographs omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot