The Perception of Human Beauty: Current beauty standards are superhuman.

I posted a longer article on my Medical Spa MD blog here but I thought this was interesting.

The current standards for human beauty are not only impossible to reach for the masses, they're impossible for anyone. It appears that we humans are 'hardwired' with what we consider attractive traits. Now technology is allowing us to realize those standards in visual form through digital aids. You can imagine in the not to distant future that computer programs and motion picture digital aids will be able to: Make Tom Cruize taller, take 15 pounds off the female lead, and create hyper exaggerated sexiness. (Perhaps the real life Jessica Rabbit.) But these manifestations of beauty will be confined to the digital and motion picture worlds... At first.

It may be that these hyperbeauty standards will accelerate the move to genetically engineering of human beings. (This is inevitable for many reasons.) With society setting the bar impossibly high, I can imagine that it will increase both the speed and pressure. Gattiaca is not far off.

What makes beauty?

From the study: Who is the most beautiful woman in Germany? An official jury tries to answer this question each year. In January 2002 it chose Miss Berlin to be the most attractive woman (left picture). But is she really the most beautiful one? The results of our study suggest - at least in theory - to be far from the ideal. 

For this reason we cooperated with Pro7 (a German television channel) and managed to get portrait photos of all contestants of the final round of this national beauty contest. In contrast to their live evaluation on the catwalk, the beautiful women could not show a particular sexy way of walking or put on a charming smile but had to comply with our scientific requirements: Frontally photographed face, hair tied to the back, neutral facial expression - and especially: no make-up! 

A selection of the 22 contestants of the final round of the contest

Miss North-Rhine/Westphalia 


 Miss Thuringia


 Miss Bavaria


Miss Bremen

Miss South Germany

Miss Baden-Wuerttemberg

Based on our previous research results we computed a new face out of all original faces by using the described morphing software. The resulting “virtual” beauty as well as all other original faces were evaluated with respect to their attractiveness by a representative sample of people in a local shopping center. 

More beautiful than Miss Germany 

The results are clear. The virtual face was rated by far as being most attractive. On a scale reaching from 1 (= very unattractive) to 7 (= very attractive) it obtained the highest score with an average of 6.2 and let Miss Germany lie far behind having an average score of just 2.8. None of the 47 asked test subjects rated the real Miss Germany as being more or at least evenly attractive than the virtual one. The highest score of the real faces obtained Miss Bremen (4.9 points), but also Miss Bremen lies clearly and statistically most significantly behind the computer beauty. 

"Real" and "virtual" Miss Germany in comparison:

On the left: the “real” Miss Germany 2002 (= Miss Berlin) and on the right: the “virtual” Miss Germany, which was computed by blending together all contestants of the final round and was rated as being much more attractive. 

Read the entire study here.