Helen of Troy is widely known as "the face that launched a thousand ships".
This has given rise, slightly tongue-in-cheek, to the unit measurement of beauty called the millihelen, where 1 millihelen is the amount of beauty needed to launch a single ship.
As well as launching ships, beautiful people are considered friendlier, more intelligent, more interesting, and more socially competent.
So what is beauty?
Beauty can be considered a combination of qualities, such as shape, colour, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.
In actual fact it is very difficult to define. And yet we know it when we see it..
Geometrically the ideal "beautiful" face is feminine. Developmentally all human faces begin as feminine - even if genetically male. The exposure to testosterone in puberty changes the face to the male configuration.
As such the female is considered the more attractive sex. And not just to men but to all humans including children and infants. Does this also explain why all children are considered beautiful?
In both sexes, beauty is strongly associated with facial 'averageness', 'symmetry' and sexual dimorphism (the differences in appearance between males and females of the same species).
Evolutional biologists state that, rather than having outstanding looks, having 'mathematically average' features advertise a more diverse set of genes and better reproductive health. That said, while average faces are attractive, very attractive faces usually have some strangeness in their proportions.
Reportedly the most important factor, however, is symmetry because having a face which is equal on both sides is a potent biological advert for good genes.
The female 'ideal' features a mixture of central baby-like features and peripheral mature features:-
- Large eyes
- Prominent cheekbones
- Thin arched eyebrows
- Small nose
- Small jaw and chin
- Full lips
The male 'ideal' of beauty is similar to that of a female but with subtle differences which make him appear more intimidating and protective.
- Prominent brow resulting in the appearance of deeper set eyes.
- Flatter narrower eyebrows.
- Eyes slightly less "wide open".
- Slightly longer and/or wider nose.
- Slightly thinner lips.
- Square/angled/larger jaws.
To add another layer of complexity, there are 3 basic ethnic variations in the 'ideal' including Caucasian, Asian and African variations.
So, to a significant extent beauty is genetic, but living a healthy lifestyle and practising good skin-care will definitely increase 'attractiveness'.
I would argue that Beauty is Essentially A Component Of Health (BEACH!) which is why investing in your general health will ultimately increase beauty.
And let's not forget doing what makes you happy - because there's nothing more attractive than a smile!