Monday, March 27, 2006

The only kind of math I understand

Studies have shown that the subjectivity of physical beauty (as it applies to the eye of the beholder) actually has roots in facial symmetry. A few years ago I saw a television special that revealed experiments involving head shots of people and then a random sampling of people who were asked to categorize them in terms of attractiveness. It is important to note that they were asked to select from an assortment of pics showing people who were generally agreed upon as being nice-looking. No one put a picture of Lyle Lovett next to George Clooney and then asked them to pick their favorite. And I believe none of the photos were of famous as not to poison the well of objectivity with predispositions toward or against someone.

Apparently, most all of the participants (although secluded from one another) singled out the same people over and over as being the most beautiful. Further analysis of those selected showed their facial dimensions to be mathematically/geometrically close to perfect. Symmetrical. Eyes not too far apart. Not too large or too small. Cheekbones level with each other and eyes that measure the same distance apart. Lips that are shaped just so and the nose is equidistant from the eyes and the mouth. Chins that don't extend beyond the forehead and at the same time don't recede. In other words, identifying a person as beautiful had nothing to do with color of hair/skin/eyes and everything to do with how the features were arranged on the face. It was all a mathematical equation. Facial geometry.

Even infants (who aren't old enough to be snooty about looks), when shown pictures of a really attractive person versus a not-so-attractive, showed particular interest in the "more conventionally handsome/pretty" of the two.

Maybe that's what it is about Dr. McDreamy that has all of us so uncomfortably thrilled with his lovely countenance, and though I haven't had occasion to measure him, I would not object to the task if asked. There's certainly a facial architecture there that makes you want to give Mother Nature a big high-five for creating something so pretty. Despite my last post where I lightly thumped Patrick Dempsey for taking Botox injections, I must hasten to admit that if I was blessed with a face like that, I'd be reluctant to let the mudslide of the aging process render me a wrinkled mess before I was ready. So...yes...I confess: He's prettier than T.R. Knight's character George O'Malley. In fact, he's quite possibly the prettiest guy on television right now.

Having said that, Patrick Dempsey still doesn't get my vote for best looking man alive...or in this case...dead. That's because my all-time idea of the most perfect-looking man ever fashioned by God and nine months of gestational incubation is John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Hands down, JFK, Jr. is and has always been for me the most symmetrical-looking human being ever to draw breath. From his head (with its most excellent hair) to his feet, he was --and remains-- the best Geometry equation ever written...and I'm not even very good in math. When I was a teacher, my classroom supply closet had a photo of him in it (because I put it there). When he died my running buddy and I bought every magazine that celebrated his brief life with a picture on the cover. I still have them. Because JFK, Jr. was a kid when I was a kid, I can attest to the fact that this guy was even a good-looking adolescent. He was also one of the most visible members of my generation, and I still find it difficult to believe that he's now and forever beyond the reaches of the most dogged celebrity photographer.

Yes...Mr. Half knows all about my fixation and I grant him the same latitude when he looks at Keira Knightly (whom he affectionately refers to as Keira his words the kind of woman so beautiful that it makes a man want to crash his car into a wall )

Even my friends who, unlike me, do not share the political views of the Kennedys find it difficult to deny the superior way John Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier's nice-but-nothing-spectacular-looking DNA combined and recombined with such rare and stunning results. In fact, take a look at all of the Kennedy clan...for certainly there are enough of them to populate a small town....if you don't believe me. The Kennedys provide a vast array of "looks"....everything from toothy and homely to really plain. Some nice-looking and even a few really handsome folks. All bear some aspect of the unmistakable family features, but nevertheless, this is a group that pretty much provides a Whitman's Sampler of facial variation.

But surely JFK, Jr. represents a kind of familial savant of genetics where a little molecules of gorgeosity that had been set aside for each of Ted's, Robert's and John's kids were somehow siphoned off into Jackie's uterus in 1960-- the moment the Goddess of Chromosomal Distribution finished the blueprints for the President's son. It certainly would explain the way he stood out in a it his relatives or perfect strangers on a New York street corner.

What he might have done with his life had he not foolishly decided to fly his plane on a foggy night with a cast on his foot is anyone's guess. He was a decent person...and from all accounts...a kind and generous man who took to heart his family's mantra: "To whom much is given, much is required". But the purpose of this post is not to discuss what he might have been...but what he actually was...or at least part of what he was. And what he WAS was so breath-takingly handsome that it makes you blink a little to behold the shirtless young man playing Frisbee in the park or the man in the suit behind the podium or the guy in rolled-up shirtsleeves at his desk.

Because--damn--in my opinion no one else even comes close.


Blogger Mignon said...

To me, JFK jr. was so handsome as to be other-worldly good-looking. As if he weren't even really human, and therefore could not be examined, classified, and compared to other men. Like chocolate should be classified as something other than food, JFKjr should be classified as something other than "just" a man.

I heard someone compare John Kerry's step-son, Chris Heinz, to JFK jr once and nearly guffawed in their face. I went to college with him and know him as a real jackass, and the idea that his looks could even be uttered in the same breath as JFKjr was appalling.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Nic said...

Sigh, he was yummy. Plus he looked like one of those only-gets-better kinda guys, settling into his looks if he had aged. I wish we could have seen it happen.

8:33 PM  
Blogger R. Robyn said...


I've always been a little young for the jr. JFK, but for some reason I remember exactly where I was, and what I was wearing when TV broadcasted the news of his death. Unlike any other celebrities death, his stands out in my mind.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

His body was flawless. His face just OK for me.

To me there's a difference between beautiful and sexy. They don't always go together.

I love Colin Firth, Johnny Depp, Ralph Fiennes, Harrison Ford. Good (not perfect) looks and a certain intensity that's sexy.

2:21 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

Oh you know it sister! JFK Jr. was just bigger than the short life he led. He had that whole mythical Camelot thing going but also turned out to be so down to earth and SEXY. I've read about that whole mathematical symmetry thing to. Guess I should take a tape measure and ruler to the plastic surgeon, ha ha. RIP John

5:14 AM  
Blogger Arabella said...

Totally agree he hit the DNA lottery. He really got the best of both parents.

Aside from the obvious sadness and tragedy of his death, it is disappointing that the world will never get to see him become a sexy, mature man.

5:59 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

You wrote, "I haven't measured Dr. McD yet" Ha!!!! I would've measured ANYTHING on JFK jr. anyday, anywhere, anytime he wanted to. That man was gorgeous. I totally agree with you.

7:57 AM  
Blogger Tink said...

Orlando Bloom is my eye candy. He was even hot in the elf ears.

Keira Knightly is pretty... until she opens her mouth. I hate how she speaks. I used to think she had an underbite or a slight lisp.

8:05 AM  
Anonymous TB said...

I have had a little crush on Patrick Dempsey since 1987 when he made Can't Buy Me Love and In The Mood. He really is coming into his own with GA though, isn't he? It must be at least in part due to the character he's playing.

I was JUST thinking about facial symmetry the other day WordGirl. I have read about that study as well and I was noticing that one of my eyebrows is at least 1/2 inch higher than the other and wondering if it is messing with my symmetry, or if no one notices but me. It's driving me crazy!

10:11 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

MY face is so crooked...I look like a Picasso painting.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Ben Dolan said...

I'm pretty sure I think the same thing along the lines of Jennifer Garner.


She's definitely got the symmetry going.

10:25 AM  
Blogger Sarcomical said...

you have made my day. i hope i can concentrate now, but all i want to do is keep looking, looking, looking.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Nytro said...

JFK = yummy. i agree with the majority of your thoughts on the beauty thing.

but i will assert that for me, if someone that falls into the category of being a symmetrical hottie turns out to be a zit on the ass of humanity on the inside, then they no longer hold any appeal for me. in fact, their looks almost make me vomit. is that weird?

i would like to know what mathematical equation the scientists would come up for that phenomenon.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous LetterB said...

I wonder if JFK Jr. would have used botox? We'll never know.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I saw an article... okay, truth be told, I heard third-hand about an article which said there is a mathematical formula explaining the beauty found in non-conventionall attractive faces as well. The ratio of the size of features and distances between the eyes, nose to mouth, lenght of limbs, etc. all measures up to be exactly 1.618. Which means conventionally attractive people are perfectly symmetrical, but the really exotic and juh-nuh-say-kwah gorgeous faces may possibly have an interesting asymmetry about them.

That's what the rest of us want to hear, right?

3:24 PM  
Blogger theyellowwallpaper said...

Yeah, JFK had that elusive combination of intelligence and beauty. It's seems rare for them to go hand in hand.

7:02 PM  
Blogger CISSY said...

I had missed this post. Yes. Without a doubt JFK Jr. was the most handsome man I've ever seen. It still pains me to think that he is gone forever.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Rock said... sound like Elaine.

Yes he was pretty - but before you go off and make him sound like he had a legacy lost - he was pretty much just a playboy, took him like five times to pass the bar exam - and the George magazine, while a laudible idea - was a commercial flop.

But he was Catholic and Irish - so that's good.

11:13 AM  
Blogger wordgirl said...

Rock- He died too young to really have a chance for a legacy. And it didn't take him five times to pass the bar. Three--yes--but not five.

I'm not about to throw stones because I know I could probably NEVER pass it.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Yup, he was a good looking guy.

6:12 AM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

Yes, JFK Jr. was a god...

But I like T.R. Knight better than Patrick Dempsey. O'Malley is just so sweet ;)

I'm visiting from Leah's blog, btw.

3:04 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home