Beauty - or the power of the genes

Beauty - or the power of the genes"Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder", goes the saying. Our contemporary beauty standards are set by TV stars or famous models. Beautiful is who looks like Heidi Klumm or Brad Pitt. But what mechanisms are really behind our perception of beauty? Are we the victims of genetic programming? The most recent scientific studies support this theory.

Yesterday in the English Garden, a woman walked towards me. Blue eyes, a blonde head of curls, the perfect nose and delicately-chiselled cheek bones. There was a light smile on her face and her freckles shone on her tanned skin in the setting sun. This face was beautiful, awe-inspiringly beautiful - but this is exactly the problem.

Countless women have blonde hair, blue eyes and delicately-chiselled cheek bones. And yet we do not perceive all of them as beautiful. In this woman's case, we experienced the "power of beauty". Why? Because she attracted our glances, she became etched in our thoughts.

Let us ask ourselves honestly how many decisions we make everyday in order to look more beautiful, to be more attractive. From the very process that goes on in the bathroom every morning, where we try to conceal the traces of time passing, to looking in every mirror to check our appearance, to the hope of being attended by the gorgeous brunette at the bank. We even prefer to receive our daily dose of pessimism from the evening news from a female anchor. One thing is certain: The search for beauty - which sometimes turns into addiction - is a powerful driving force of our actions.

But why? When say "beautiful woman" or "handsome man" - do we secretly mean only one thing? There's a lot of evidence in favour of that.

Behaviour biologists have analysed the following question: Does beauty have a use, and if yes, which? The univocal answer: Yes - Sex! Scientists claim we identify the optimal reproduction partner by their flawless body. It is a sly trick of nature: Our addiction to beauty insures the success of evolution.

The result of the research conducted by behaviour biologists is that the same mechanisms are involved, both for animals and for people. Beautiful feathers, a silky, shiny fur or a loud, domineering roar - for animal females, these are clear indications of health, strength and thus the presence of "good genes".

The Viennese ethologist Karl Grammer states: "Our obsession with beauty comes from evolution". The ideal age for a beautiful woman is - according to representative surveys - 24,8 years old. An age when women secrete the most estrogen, and when they have the fullest lips and the most pronounced breasts - so the perfect age for procreation.

Women are a little more differentiated in their perceptions. During ovulation, women prefer men whose angular profiles and strong muscles indicate a high level of testosterone. In other words, healthy, dominant genes for the offspring of alpha males. The rest of the time, scientists claim, softer types are also wanted. The reason for that is that the drive for reproduction and thus the risks of unfaithfulness are lower in the case of men with lower testosterone levels. They also have a more pronounced inclination towards caring for their offspring. The macho moves on to the next female, the softie stays with the offspring.

Psychologists at the Scottish St. Andrew's University identified symmetry - the balance between the right and left side of the face and body - as a basic principle of beauty. With the help of a computer they merged a large number of women's faces. The result was a perfect average face, well-proportioned, harmonious, with smooth skin. All interviewees perceived this face to be considerably more attractive than all of the original individual pictures. English scientists repeated the tests with three to six-months-old babies. They wanted to test if these preferences were inborn or acquired. As a matter of fact, the babies also gave the well-proportioned artificial faces considerably more attention than the original faces.

In the last years, we, the consumers, have been flooded with such standard beauties. Billboards and TV commercials tried to outdo each other - a part of the magic was thus lost. The researchers of St. Andrew's confirmed this development: the most recent studies report an even higher increase in the perceived beauty of these artificially-merged faces, when "tiny faults" were added to the end result - the eyes a little too big, a mole here, a small scar there.

Armed with this knowledge, we recognize in Claudia Schiffer or Heidi Kllumm the perfect representatives of the symmetrical beauty. There isn't the slightest fault that could disrupt this harmony. The male equivalent is Tom Cruise, whose strong chin, well-built body and steel eyes suggest to every woman that he could defend their offspring from predators. But who also looks for the unique in beauty, understands the fascination of Cindy Crawford's upper-lip mole. And they also understand why Heidi Klumm felt attracted to the scarred face of singer Seal, a guy with a crater face, which many women find "sexy" or "so strong".

American sociologist Susan Sprecher claims: "The beautiful live more beautiful lives, as well". Beautiful children receive more attention already beginning in the maternity ward, and they sense that. Beautiful children are allowed to play more, and people tend to ignore their mistakes more easily. They have an easier time through school, because they get better marks for the same accomplishment. They have more friends, because we all prefer to surround ourselves with beautiful people. And later on, when they begin to work, beautiful people will earn more. According to a British survey, handsome men make up to 15% more money on the job and beautiful women up to 11%.

Small wonder that nowadays looks are ever more important and that many people will stop at nothing in order to "meet the requirements". In 2002, German men alone spent 660 million Euros on the presumed "optimisation" of their bodies, and if we were to believe the beauty industry, this is just the beginning.

 

Last update cosmetic beauty on 01.04.2016 09:55.

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