Vanity camshow

One blond woman is more conventionally attractive on one side — her eyes more catlike and farther apart, squinting slightly in a Tyra Banks–style “smize”; her nose narrower and pointier at the tip; her cupid’s bow more defined — and more androgynous on the other, her overall countenance less taut.

Studies have shown that photographs of faces manipulated to be left-symmetrical (so both sides are the left side) are routinely judged to be more attractive than right-symmetrical faces, both in terms of reported “pleasantness ratings” as well as according to unconscious responses such as pupil dilation.

One theory supposes that this is because the left side of the face shows more emotion: “Our results suggest that posers’ left cheeks tend to exhibit a greater intensity of emotion, which observers find more aesthetically pleasing,” researchers wrote.

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I have a snaggletooth, my upper right lateral tooth, which began twisting out of line as soon as my braces were removed. The glass sliced my chin open, from lower lip to jaw, requiring 15 stitches. My right side seems to be aging faster, inexplicably — the nasolabial fold is more pronounced — though the left side gets more sun exposure in the car, and when I sleep on my side, I usually turn to the left.It was only recently, however, that I realized I automatically look at my good side in the mirror.In my teens, a mole appeared in the middle of my right cheek.It’s not small enough, pigmented enough, or close enough to the mouth or eye to qualify as a “beauty mark,” providing Barthesian punctum, the poignant accident; it merely mars the profile. One morning just before my 27th birthday, I fainted and fell into a French door, breaking one of the panes with my face.

“Our findings provide support for…the notions of lateralized emotion and right hemispheric dominance with the right side of the brain controlling the left side of the face during emotional expression.” The photographer Julian Wolkenstein did a series of “Symmetrical Portraits” in 2010, showing each subject’s right-symmetrical and left-symmetrical photos side by side.The portraits are somewhat unsettling; the resulting faces look related but not identical, like sisters but not twins.


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