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Reflections on beauty standards and photo editing, part two

The golden ratio or golden mean — have you already heard about it? It’s a very popular composition rule in the photographic world. But did you know there is a golden ratio for a face’s beauty as well? What are those ratios based on, and how do people look like with those perfect features? Here’ what I found.

I wrote part one of this series in a very serious vein. Now it’s is time to have some fun.

A revised and scientific procedure

I must confess. I felt quite inaccurate once part one had been posted. I did my Photoshop transformation based on my own perception of actual beauty standards: Large eyes, thin nose, slender jawline, high cheekbones and enlarged lips. But everything was basically coming out of my imagination. I reminded myself I was a professional and I couldn’t leave all those readers living what was simply my opinion of the nature of facial beauty. I knew better. So I did my research and looked for real scientific data to back up my editing standards for beauty. I followed the guide to the best of my abilities and I am strongly positive about these more accurate results.

What’s the golden ratio?

The face features here are based on phi proportions.

OK, let’s try to keep this article’s educational part to a minimum. (It’s all in this one paragraph I swear). As explained in this delightful Looks Theory video (which by the way, provides some equally delightful Photoshop examples), it seems that our perception of physical beauty is based on how close one’s features reflect phi in their proportions. Phi is also known to be called the golden ratio — or golden mean in photography. So without further technical stuf, here is ladies and gentlemen, my perfect new golden phi face:

Perfectly symmetrical, higher eyebrows, wider eyes, narrower nose, bigger lips. No dark circles. Interesting isn’t it? As some of you may know by now I got married last summer. So I thought I might check the husband’s face as well, since I am looking forward to having perfect children.

I don’t know if there’s anything going on between my husband’s name (Phil) and the golden ratio (Phi), but his eyes and nose barely had to be retouched to reach perfection. Needless to say, it made me quite jealous. Just don’t tell him. Please.

If you have a couple hours to spare, you too could create your perfect self or even better, your perfect spouse (because we both know they need it more than we do)! You just have to launch Photoshop, follow a guide and get a very good playlist. The procedure reminds me of some kind of grown-up number paint.

Your point of view

Well, I guess I kind of lied about wanting to make this article fun but in the end, I realized that my ultimate goal was to make people think.

What do you think of those standards? What do you think when you see the pictures of my husband and me after undergoing the digital knife? I know, I know, I was perfect right from the beginning. But look at him! No wrinkles, strong jawline…he looks like a darker version of Brad Pitt! Now I just have to spend a couple thousand to fix him.

I am making fun of this. But the reality is, we no longer live in a world where body enhancements are only created in images. A lot of people look at digitally modified photos in the magazines, on TV and on social media and want (some desperately) to look picture perfect. Some keep it as only a wish. Some get a little “work” done. Some go all the way. And some, sadly, feel the need to go beyond. This global trend is now very common and it became perceived as normal. We live in a world that claims and encourages individuality and yet, so many desire to fit into that unique and perfect golden mask.

What’s beauty? What’s normal? What’s individuality?

What is your point of view based on your values and beliefs?

What’s your intention when you are about to edit your friend’s, family’s or client’s images facing you on your monitor?

I’ve got my own opinion — which I shared in the first part — and I hope these articles will give you the chance to find your very own asethetic as well. Feel free to comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Disclaimer 1: No human has been harmed for the making of this article. Beyond, perhaps a sore wrist and elbow.

Disclaimer 2: The golden ratio editing of your spouse done without asking her/his permission is made at your own peril. If a forthcoming divorce happens to be mentioned in my next couple of articles you must NOT, I repeat, you must NOT reproduce this technique at home.

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