According to a “study” by Dr. Julian De Silva at the London-based Centre for Advanced Facial Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery, this is the perfect female face:
Notice anything about it?
Yeah, it’s kind of creepy.
The facial representation was generated by using Phi, the so-called “Golden Ratio.” The study, first reported by The Daily Mail, used facial mapping to determine which celebrities had the most “perfect” face, meaning which faces abided most by Phi. Amber Heard apparently has the best female face in the world, followed by Kim Kardashian and Kate Moss. Men weren’t included in the study.
Phi was first defined by Euclid in “Elements” 2,300 years ago. Basically, it means when a number in a sequence is the sum of the two preceeding numbers, the ratio of the numbers next to the sequence can be defined as a number called Phi. It’s an irrational number; if you tried to write it out, you would be writing forever. The first four numbers, though, are 1.618, so sometimes you’ll see it written out that way.
The number is thought to have some kind of magical properties that relate to beauty. “The Phi ratio of 1.618 has long been thought to hold the secret for beauty,” Silva told The Daily Mail. “But now with the computer mapping we can calculate how it applies to real women.”
That’s bunk science.
As you can see clearly by the creepy “ideal” picture above, a Golden Ratio-defined person looks inhuman.
That’s because the Golden Ratio is inhuman. The tradition of trying to apply Phi to aesthetics traces back to Adolf Zeising, a Germany psychologist who wrote a book about it in the 1800s. He was a crank. He drew conclusions about the Golden Ratio when none existed, like that the human body is based on the Golden Ratio. It got a renewed wave of popularity when Dan Brown figured it heavily into “The Da Vinci Code,” which is a work of fiction.
But more importantly, it makes no sense to apply the number to the aesthetic world. Phi is a mathematical concept. As an irrational number, it’s impossible for it to show up in reality.
“The Golden Ratio is like pi. Just as it’s impossible to find a perfect circle in the real world, the Golden Ratio cannot strictly be applied to any real world object. It’s always going to be a little off,” as Keith Devlin, a Stanford professor working on a study about phi, told Fast Company last year.
Most damningly, people don’t actually prefer shapes that use the Golden Ratio. The Fast Company article cited a study Devlin is working on where he and other scientists interview hundreds of Stanford students about their favourite shape and asked them to pick their favourite ones.
Rather than picking rectangles that were closest to a “golden rectangle” — meaning a rectangle where the ratio between the length and width is phi — their picks were random. And when they repeated the excersise, they picked different rectangles. “It doesn’t show that the Golden Ratio is more aesthetically pleasing to people at all,” Devlin said.
The results were backed up by another study, at the Haas School of Business at Berkeley, which looked at the package shapes preferred by consumers. On average, consumers liked rectangles with a ratio between 1.414 and 1.732. The golden rectangle is within that range, but the golden ratio itself didn’t stand out among the options.
Beauty isn’t a matter of gaming the numbers until people think you look great. It’s more complicated and subjective than that. And it definitely doesn’t include the Golden Ratio.
The Centre for Advanced Facial Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery didn’t reply to INSIDER’s request for comment.
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