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Quackcast 610 - Beauty!

Ozoneocean at 12:00AM, Nov. 22, 2022

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“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, so the saying goes but it's absolutely true. There is a layered subjectivity to it based on personal preference, the cultural standards of your community, the ethnic traits of you and your peers, prevailing global fashions in appearance, the dominant archetypes in the media and so on. All these things combine to form our personal subjective ideas of beauty. You can see this yourself if you look at paintings, statues, masks, frescoes and other artifacts that have been produced by all the diverse cultures on earth over thousands of years: there IS no standard, eternal, objective of beauty.

Years ago a plastic surgeon thought he'd cracked the secret. He wrote a book about the idea of a mathematical, objective beauty model based on symmetry. Of course any artist could have told him it was absolute nonsense for any number of reasons, but popular books based of pseudo-science gain a lot of traction among the majority of people that don't tend to be able to think too hard about these questions and crave easy solutions.

There are two competing, rudimentary forces at the base of the idea of beauty:
One part is based on conformity: becoming the most generic, simplistic, ordinary, average version of something. Symmetry is a big part of that. This is what that sort of cosmetic surgeon specialises in. We can surmise this comes from the drive to find things that look like us (i.e. our tribe), and is the best representation of “us”.
The second part is based on novelty: What makes this person stand out, what makes them different and unusual.
And then cultural standards, popculture, fashion and many other factors add layers of complexity to these.

*A note on symmetry:
Part of the mistaken notion that inflated its role in “beauty” was the idea that it's an indicator of health or “good genes”, which is false. The reason for symmetry in bodies is just to make the coding simpler. Recent studies have confirmed this: just like when an artist wants to save time by using a mirror or copy, pasting and flipping to make a face or body, nature does it for the same reason.

We talk about it in much greater detail in the Quackcast! Who do you find beautiful?

This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to Phineus Teen Wizard - Thrumming 80s groove. Synthesised neon soft pink glow in the midnight blue fuzz. We’re going back in time… roll up the sleeves on your red leather jacket, slip on your fingerless gloves, lace up your hightops, get on your BMX bike and peddle back through the decades to 1983!

Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
The Faceless Comics Set 1 -

Featured music:
Phineus Teen Wizard - - by Phinmagic, rated E.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace -
Ozoneocean -
Kawaiidaigakusei -
Banes -
Tantz Aerine -

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Jason Moon at 11:49AM, Nov. 24, 2022

Some people can come off as really beautiful looking when you first meet them but that can fade away the more you get to know them. Attitude and personality play a huge factor in how you overall judge a persons appearance.

Ozoneocean at 7:02PM, Nov. 23, 2022

@Dpat57 or Burgess Meredith XD

dpat57 at 1:16AM, Nov. 23, 2022

@Ozoneocean sure, everybody has their own facial geometry preferences, likely influenced by tribal, regional, ethnic factors. Just as well, otherwise we'd all be fighting to the death over the perfect partner. I could as easily have said Julie Newmar or Lee Meriwether or 100 other geometrically interesting faces.

Hapoppo at 8:29PM, Nov. 22, 2022

I read this and all I could think of was the crazy plastic surgeon in the first Bioshock. "This one! Too... SYMMETRICAL!"

hushicho at 5:50PM, Nov. 22, 2022

Beauty comes from far more than just a pretty face or symmetry. Beauty is in the way a person is, and who they are, and perhaps what they are. Being pretty is easy. Being beautiful is very rare. And health? Pff. Vampires and the undead can be among the most aesthetically pleasing beings in all creation, and they could be considered to be not very healthy by human standards.

Ozoneocean at 5:17PM, Nov. 22, 2022

@paneltastic - wow! That's short, pithy and perfectly to the point. Quite clever :D

Ozoneocean at 5:17PM, Nov. 22, 2022

@plymayer - very, very true!

Ozoneocean at 5:16PM, Nov. 22, 2022

@Dpat57 - that's more individual and culturally influenced than you think. For example, Florence Pugh is not beautiful to me. She's sort of weird to my eyes XD There's just something about her, mouth too small?I don't know. And we know all those proportions are quite different across history, time and different ethnicities. i.e. Certain peoples will have eyes quite far apart as an ethnic group, some will have longer faces, compressed faces, rounded faces, long noses, wide noses, short noses with a flat bridge, and all have different ideas of beauty based on what they commonly look like.

Ozoneocean at 5:11PM, Nov. 22, 2022

@Marcorossi - yeah, I think it has a rougher influence on "beauty" than is commonly thought, rather than facial beauty it's more about overall bodies.

Ozoneocean at 5:09PM, Nov. 22, 2022

@Banes- yep, copies pasties! So if you come out decorated with your own original set of red glittery pasties with the nice olden tassels on them... BAM! She copies them. The unoriginal cow.

paneltastic at 12:30PM, Nov. 22, 2022

My response to the symmetry being healthy comment is that if you look like a basketball, even if you're round on both sides, you're still probably unhealthy.

plymayer at 10:52AM, Nov. 22, 2022

Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.

dpat57 at 9:41AM, Nov. 22, 2022

I say to my dear missus, whenever she is assessing the beauty rating of an actress or other famous person on TV, that they have good facial geometry. It's like there's a golden ratio of the face, you know? Which factors in things like the width and depth of the forehead, width and shape of the eyes, distance between the eyes, width and length of the nose, width of the philtrum (that lovely groove between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip), width and thickness of the upper lip and ditto the lower lip, shape of the chin. Florence Pugh. Alas young enough to be my granddaughter, but such lovely geometric proportions, I can't help but notice. I try to duplicate this in my limited art but never quite seem able to "get it" as good as Nature does.

marcorossi at 6:13AM, Nov. 22, 2022

I think the "health" part about beauty and symmetry is not that wrongh (the same for youth and beauty), however symmetry conveys the lack of accidents/illness rather than genes, plus obviously there are so many more layers of cultural influences on beauty that the original "health" thing, while IMHO true, is also a very small part of the total. That said, one thing that fascinates me is that thing in shojo where the lead is supposed to be a normal girl, the opponent is super beautiful, but every male falls for the lead: the "evil beauty" is more a sort of social role (alpha femaling?) than beauty per se.

Banes at 6:11AM, Nov. 22, 2022

Wait - mother nature copies and pastes? This leads even more neatly into the Doppelganger 'Cast next week! Izzat synergy or what?

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