Is Beauty Boring?
April 27, 2012 7:56 AM   Subscribe

18-year-old, Florence Colgate, has been blessed with what has been deemed the most naturally beautiful face in England. Florence, @flo245 on twitter, is the winner of a contest, beating out 8,000 other contestants, for having a nearly perfectly symmetrical face, based on ratio figures that were collected by researchers.

Statistically speaking, there are two main universal keys to beauty for which there is persuasive evidence: facial symmetry and ‘averageness’. According to David Perrett:

"The answer lies not in fancy geometry but in two basic relationships: whether the left side matches the right (symmetry), and whether the proportions match those with which we are most familiar (normality or ‘averageness’). That beauty should lie in averageness is paradoxical, because we tend to think of ‘average’ as mundane. Sure, the most beautiful faces do not have average proportions, but nonetheless learning what is ‘normal’ for the faces around us is a powerful force in defining what for us is beautiful."(previously)

This proves itself when you look at the hundreds of comments at the at the Daily Mail and Huffington Post which refer to Colgate as “boring”, “average”, and “bland”. And if you are wondering how you might measure up, there's an app for that.
posted by hubs (132 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Uncanny valley!
posted by entropone at 7:57 AM on April 27, 2012


Meh. Bit plain.
posted by londonmark at 7:58 AM on April 27, 2012


I don't care for that indentation in the center of the bottom edge of the upper lip.

Sorry, no, send her back.
posted by Trurl at 7:59 AM on April 27, 2012 [16 favorites]


She has sharp knees.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:59 AM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


Invisible straw.
posted by chillmost at 8:01 AM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Experts also believe the relative distance between eyes and mouth should be just over a third of the measurement from hairline to chin. Florence’s ratio is 32.8 per cent.

That isn't just over a third in my world.

Please, let's not do a referendum here on whether some teenage girl is pretty, or pretty enough.
posted by jeather at 8:02 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


hey guys can we not derail the thread with all the boyzone comments about her appearance

oh wait
posted by ook at 8:02 AM on April 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Still, tiny differences matter.

Consider the sisters of Christy Turlington. These are strikingly attractive women. But they just missed the genetic bullseye required to create a supermodel.
posted by Trurl at 8:03 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This proves itself when you look at the hundreds of comments at the at the Daily Mail and Huffington Post which refer to Colgate as “boring”, “average”, and “bland”.

I don't know, I think that's just your usual internet commenting, honestly. They say the same thing about Scarlett Johansson, Beyonce, Marilyn Monroe and whoever else you care to name. Get these people in a room with Florence Colgate and they'll go weak in the knees and start stuttering...
posted by naju at 8:04 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


So amihotornot finally has a winner?
posted by bondcliff at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have an asymmetrical face, especially compared to her, and people seem to like it ok. I'll never be a male model, but that is ok
posted by Forktine at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2012


Really upset that my favorite British word, "boffin," fails to appear in any of the links
posted by theodolite at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Beauty isn't boring, but debating it is.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:06 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


can we not derail the thread with all the boyzone comments about her appearance

This is a case where it would be a derail not to comment on her appearance.
posted by Trurl at 8:06 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a very creepy contest, and the fact that the winner is white, blond and blue eyed doesn't help.
posted by moammargaret at 8:06 AM on April 27, 2012 [22 favorites]


Interesting to note that she has pronounced limbal rings, which is supposed to be considered attractive.
posted by Algebra at 8:07 AM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


As in, "PIFFLE! BOFFINS TAP TOP BIRD"
posted by theodolite at 8:07 AM on April 27, 2012 [12 favorites]


A name like Colgate, and she's not showing her teeth? I smell a rat
posted by Myeral at 8:07 AM on April 27, 2012


Blonde hair and blue eyes, huh?

You know who else liked blonde hair and blue eyes? HITLER!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should make it clear that I was making a old joke about Jessamyn's Cooter Clock, which may predate some Mefites' experience, not an actual comment about the girl's appearance. She's pretty but also young enough to be my child, so no.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


What weird, creepy things we internet citizens do these days.
posted by koeselitz at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]



'Women should not have to feel that they have to wear make-up,' she said. 'I hope people will look at me and think they don't need to. I'm very happy with the way I look and I would never have any plastic surgery or Botox.'

However, I must say I find it very difficult to believe she isn't wearing blush. Does anyone naturally have a flush like that? I have something like it, right after I exercise, but not 24/7.
posted by melissam at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Two words: Wabi-sabi

Or is that one word? Whatever.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Scientists tell us that the most perfect Daily Mail piece can be determined by a formula based on data they have gathered, including variables for a large picture of an attractive female, a vague and sweeping claim that everyone feels qualified to discuss and dispute, and hints of sudden undeserved fame and fortune. In a competition featuring eight million other articles this one amazed the researchers by proving to be exactly average.
posted by Segundus at 8:09 AM on April 27, 2012 [46 favorites]


A common quote says that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” which, followed to its logical conclusion, means that the person who attracts the most amount of beholders would be considered the most beautiful.

A sentence featuring not just the composition skills, but also the grasp on logic of a eleventh-grader finishing his homework during lunch.
posted by griphus at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2012 [39 favorites]


This is a case where it would be a derail not to comment on her appearance.

There is no other possible avenue for discussion on this thread than whether she's fuckable?

Offhand, there are the questions of whether those ratios mean anything, what averageness means, whether the ratios are specific to race, or informed by racism, how this contest was even run . . . but no, let's rate her hotness instead. Sounds like fun.
posted by jeather at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


If I had photoshop I could make that face even more perfect. Which is the thing...if you're going to be obsessed with this shit, you're never going to be satisfied. Which leads us to the covers of most magazines.
posted by spicynuts at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2012


Great...now I have to decide between Cardinal Dolan's Viagra and Jessamyn's Cooter Clock for my new band name.
posted by sexymofo at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


see the joke was that the subject of the thread literally is the girl's appearance so for once those comments would be okay but I timed my post so poorly as to come right after an actual complaint about the boyzone comments so it looks like I was making fun of jeather which was not at all my intention but in order to explain that I have to spoil the joke by explaining it and anyway now that there are what appear to be some actual boyzone comments as opposed to just meta-level boyzone comments that are jokes about boyzone comments it's pretty much entirely backfired on me and I regret having gone there at all so anyway I'll just be going now
posted by ook at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I arbitrarily and unconditionally reject any attempt to force a uniform standard of beauty on the world.

That being said, she looks like a nice girl.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


the person who attracts the most amount of beholders

This module suuucks
posted by theodolite at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2012 [36 favorites]


It's not the most beautiful face. It's the face that most people would agree to be beautiful, according to their rubric. It's like the difference between your favorite movie and the People's Choice Awards.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


No, see, here's the thing: there is something really interesting going on here, and it's not anything to do with whether or not Florence Colegate has a nice face in and of herself or not. All the interesting stuff is going on at a totally different level: what in the world do we consider "familiar" and "normal" and to whom does that apply?

Okay, I'll totally buy that symmetry is important as a biometric marker for possible genetic benefit to offspring. Cool. I'll accept the biological explanation of that. But there is absolutely no biological essentialism that can be derived from the words 'familiar' and 'normal' and 'average'. Who were the researchers asking? What is average in this context?

I'm going to take a wild semi-sociologically informed guess here and say that 'average' in this case means primarily white women and men with gender presentations that match social definitions of acceptable male/female binary boxes. But that's sure as shit not a global average, and depending on where you are, it may not even be the average in parts of Britain! So once again we define 'beauty' as meeting dominant/desireable class, race, and gender standards, only in this case we back it up with statistical methods and a certain amount of biology. I think the ways we go about studying things like beauty-- which are usually ways that reinforce dominant ideologies-- are much, much more interesting than anything we could ever really have to say about beauty itself, in humans, as a "thing" that can be pinpointed.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Does anyone naturally have a flush like that?

I used to work with a girl who, naturally, looked like she was wearing concealer, blush and gloss. Her skin was uncanny.
posted by griphus at 8:12 AM on April 27, 2012


I remember talking about the symmetry thing in one of my college biology classes. My professor printed out two photos of his face. One was unaltered, and one was edited in Photoshop so that the left side was a mirror image of the right, to create a photo with perfect facial symmetry. He showed both of them to his wife and asked which she thought was the unaltered one. He didn't tell her what alterations had been made, just that one was edited and one was not.

I remember he was flattered that she chose the wrong photo. He interpreted that to mean she saw him as more attractive than he actually was (in the strict symmetry sense of attractive).
posted by pemberkins at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Symmetry is overrated.
posted by freakazoid at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting that Trurl brings up Christy Turlington, who I think is one of the most gorgeous women ever, because she actually has asymmetric eyes and eyebrows and an asymmetric jawline. If you were to slice and mirror a shot like the one I linked, you'd have two more Turlington sisters.

I wonder if some element of asymmetry attracts our interest whether or not we're fully conscious of it.
posted by maudlin at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Symmetry is overrated.
posted by freakazoid at 8:13 AM on April 27 [+] [!]


Eponysterical.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


the person who attracts the most amount of beholders

This module suuucks


+3 Face Of Attraction.
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Please tell she's been offered a modeling gig shilling toothpaste.
posted by jonmc at 8:14 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting point, maudlin. Now that I think about it, one of the major features of my most attractive ex had a long, beautiful, very symmetrical face-- except for a slightly crooked, previously-broken nose (swoon.) Good symmetry, with one outstanding assymetrical feature to make it more interesting.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:15 AM on April 27, 2012


Symmetry is overrated.

No...perfect symmetry results in the uncanny valley, and our brains abhor it.
posted by spicynuts at 8:15 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bob Elliot will always be the most beautiful face to me.
posted by plinth at 8:17 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Studies like this always wind up bugging me, and I'm not sure if it's inherent in the studies or if it's just the way people interpret them. But trying to break down something like attraction into these little discrete chunks (you must be symmetrical, you must smell right, you must be ovulating, yadda yadda) always seem to miss the larger point... which is that, in the real world, attraction is holistic. It's not JUST a simple mathematical equation, because it depends on so much, like whether your personality meshes with theirs, or you admire some skill they have, or whether they fit the standards of beauty that you were exposed to growing up, or whether they resemble your first crush, or WHATEVER.

And then we get these studies and suddenly people discount their own, real-world experiences and suddenly everyone on the internet goes 'oh no you just have to taste their saliva and measure their eyebrows and then you'll know whether to be attracted to them or not.' Bah.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:17 AM on April 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Symmetry is overrated.

*deletes draft attempt at comment palindrome*
posted by cairnish at 8:21 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, she's white and blonde!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:21 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


you must be symmetrical, you must smell right, you must be ovulating,

Probably my favorite lyrics in My Fair Lady
posted by Greg Nog at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2012 [52 favorites]


She plucks her eyebrows. She does not like what nature gave her.
posted by EnterTheStory at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I freely admit this is crazy, but if you watch the "nobody is pretty enough" video linked in the comments to the main article (also here) and see the photoshop "after" image, the "before" looks pretty weird.

She is, of course, very pretty. But I've had it with blondes.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:23 AM on April 27, 2012


*deletes draft attempt at comment palindrome*

Etagloc ecnerolf was I ere I saw Florence Colgate
posted by Copronymus at 8:23 AM on April 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


Ill see your Bob and Ray, plinth, and raise you a Charlie Rich.
posted by maudlin at 8:24 AM on April 27, 2012


It's not JUST a simple mathematical equation, because it depends on so much, like whether your personality meshes with theirs, or you admire some skill they have, or whether they fit the standards of beauty that you were exposed to growing up, or whether they resemble your first crush, or WHATEVER.

Yeah, people say that, but I think on a lot of levels we're fooling ourselves if we think we have any clue about what attracts us to people and that science is probably way better than we are at figuring this shit out. The truth is probably somewhere between our two viewpoints.

Also, I will have no idea if she's hot until I can smell her. DAILY FAIL
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2012


Oh, on Madam? No ho.
posted by Segundus at 8:26 AM on April 27, 2012


Oh and I also think women are socialized to suppress their physical attraction so we do end up being like "oh he's so good at X" or "he seems like not a mass murderer!" but then a year later the sex is horrible or nonexistent and no one knows why.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:26 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


"NEXT UP IN SCIENCE: SCRATCH 'N' SNIFF BEAUTY CONTESTS! Can YOU tell if Florence Colegate is ovulating?"
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:27 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Odd, this talk of symmetry, because what I notice first (and appreciate) are the asymmetries. The way the right side of her mouth tilts up more than the left, the way her hair is parted, giving the left side more volume, the right eyebrow slightly crooked.

That said, possibly due to my age, I'd call her "cute" rather than beautiful, but, whatever.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think she's quite lovely, and she does look like a nice girl. I'm not convinced that perfect symmetry is where it's at when people become famous for their beauty, though. Christy Turlington is a great example, and I'm also thinking of Julia Roberts. Now that I'm older and I've seen several fame cycles, it seems like symmetrically pretty actors get a lot of sitcom/commercial work, but it's often more unusual-looking folks like Kristen Stewart who break through to the A-list.

On a sort-of-related note, I make cloth dolls with embroidered faces. They're pretty stylized, but people are always telling me that they "look like real people", and cameras with face-recognition software register them like human faces. It took me a while to figure out that this is because they're asymmetrical. Not only that, but as I've worried less about symmetry, my dolls have gotten more lifelike. A Barbie or commercial porcelain doll is almost 100% mathematically symmetrical, which is one of the reasons they can seem so creepy.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


This proves itself when you look at the hundreds of comments at the at the Daily Mail and Huffington Post which refer to Colgate as “boring”, “average”, and “bland”.

The trick here is to imagine all those comments as coming from jellyfish, who are naturally into radial symmetry and just don't understand all this fuss about someone whose symmetry is merely bilateral.

(Imagining the comments section as a pool full of indignant jellyfish is actually a pretty good coping strategy for media websites in general, but it's especially effective here.)
posted by No-sword at 8:32 AM on April 27, 2012 [33 favorites]


Too hot to hoot.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:35 AM on April 27, 2012


something something petrified something something hot grits something something.

There. Discussion has reached its apex. I'll meet you guys over in the frog-sitting-on-a-chair thread.
posted by Mayor West at 8:36 AM on April 27, 2012


There are a few other pix of Flo on the internets, most of which are better than the one at the main link.
posted by beagle at 8:36 AM on April 27, 2012


To everybody saying "she's Blond," you might want to reconsider. Her eyebrows and hair roots may be saying something else.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:41 AM on April 27, 2012


So no one is going to mention that this girl is not remotely symmetrical? Her smile is crooked, one eye is more closed than the others, the brows go in different directions even the bottom of her nose seems at an angle.

All of these things are fine, but THIS is the most symmetrical female in the UK?
posted by DU at 8:43 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Allow me to quote someone from huffingtonpost.com:

"This is THE most stupidest thing ever. Would they do this to a MAN'S face? And what about women of color? Where is the room for different types of features? Stupid, stupid, stupid."



I'm so over this garbage churned out for pageviews and publicity.
posted by 200burritos at 8:44 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


To everybody saying "she's Blond," you might want to reconsider. Her eyebrows and hair roots may be saying something else.

She's not a natural blonde, but she is blonde.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:45 AM on April 27, 2012


Meanwhile, at the other extreme...
posted by TedW at 8:46 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those who are a bit upset by this particular post.

Here you go.
posted by Fizz at 8:49 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know about "most beautiful," because that seems like a hard judgment to make in a country with thirty million women. (They couldn't possibly look at everyone.) But she is gorgeous.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:02 AM on April 27, 2012


I need to see her face when she is completely wasted to know if she is actually attractive in England
posted by srboisvert at 9:07 AM on April 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


The things that might make her attractive are the imperfections, I think. The way her lips don't quite meet. That thing she does with her hair which used to irritate you, but now she's longer around, you realise you can't live without. And that birthmark on her calf which you still see in your dreams.
posted by tigrefacile at 9:17 AM on April 27, 2012 [8 favorites]


A story in National Geographic last year on Sami reindeer herders had a photo of a young woman who struck me as extremely pretty on the basis of what must be some of those traits of symmetry (and who, for what it's worth, can pretty much out-blond and out-pale anyone on the planet). Of course it doesn't hurt to be photographed by a National Geographic photographer, either. But the world is full of people who look a lot like this, so to single one out as the "most" anything is a bit silly.
posted by Creosote at 9:24 AM on April 27, 2012


"Florence and The Machine"
posted by furiousthought at 9:25 AM on April 27, 2012


I think she's lurvley, but I would also like to see male faces, people of color, etc.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:31 AM on April 27, 2012


Just one question, but did they come to the conclusion that people have a preference for average measurements by averaging people's preferences for measurements? You can see the circular logic right there.
posted by jonp72 at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2012


'Women should not have to feel that they have to wear make-up,' she said. 'I hope people will look at me and think they don't need to. I'm very happy with the way I look and I would never have any plastic surgery or Botox.'

EASY FOR YOU TO SAY MISS-MOST-BEAUTIFUL-PERSON-IN-THE-COUNTRY

Also, I'd say that a prize in this category should go to Matt Bomer, but I'm not entirely sure he's a real human being. look at those eyes, he's like the fucking National Geographic girl
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just love how a sample size of 8000 represents the entirety of England, excluding those who underwent plastic surgery.

I also love how it boiled down to a public vote, after 3 finalists were chosen by the sponsors of this so-called study.

They should put an asterix next to "Most", or at least a footnote documenting the wide variances that lead up to this decision.
posted by CancerMan at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2012


I don't think I'd ever want to enter a beauty contest of any sort, because even if I won there'd be a bunch of anonymous internet people saying "no way, she's totally plain." Instead, I'd like to win a Plainest Face contest and get tons of anonymous commenters say "nuh uh, she's beautiful!"

Actually, scratch that. I'd like no one to talk about my face and the perceived attractiveness thereof. Unless there's a prominent booger or something, and even then, I'd prefer you did that in private.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:34 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly, I think science needs to study Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. Find a formula for THAT.
posted by melissam at 9:47 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a diamond's imperfections that make it sparkle.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:48 AM on April 27, 2012


'Women should not have to feel that they have to wear make-up,' she said. 'I hope people will look at me and think they don't need to. I'm very happy with the way I look and I would never have any plastic surgery or Botox.'

This is the "let them eat cake" of beauty.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:49 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


How did we get this far in the thread without an Infinite Jest reference? She may be the prettiest girl in England, but I want a search for the Prettiest Girl Of All Time, someone who can send people into a catatonic state just by looking at her.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I suppose the question is one of lizard-brain attraction or developing attraction. Perhaps the formula is right -- perhaps, as a species, these are the things we instantly respond to. I find her comely; I imagine many do.

Will I still like her looks a month from now? A year from now? People grow more and less attractive with time. Defections for the formula become the character of their face, marks of character we grow to adore. How is the face when it is mad? How is it when it laughs? How is it when it adores you back? How is it when it despises you?

What is the voice that comes out of the face? What is the mind behind it? Is there humor there? Are there those curious sparks of weirdness that distinguish one person from another? Look at how Hollywood views attractiveness -- the conventionally attractive but untalented tend to get shunted into television shows that feature a lot of character. The unconventionally attractive but talented become movie stars. We learn to love a face like Walter Matthau's. We learn that it is fascinating.

Hers may be too. But it's impossible to tell from a few photos. All we learn is that she's symmetrical.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:00 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Symmetry and evenness are a huge turn-off for people with taste, sophistication and character.
posted by Decani at 10:00 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll accept the biological explanation of that. But there is absolutely no biological essentialism that can be derived from the words 'familiar' and 'normal' and 'average'. Who were the researchers asking? What is average in this context

Actually by "average" they don't mean "we asked a bunch of people and they all said the face looks average" they mean "we took a random sample of faces from the population at large and morphed them together into a statistical average." Which is just as "biologically essential" as symmetry (and, of course, produces symmetry). There have been a lot of studies showing that a face which averages out the distribution of features will float to the top or near the top of people's rankings of attractiveness (i.e., you stick the morphed image in amongst a bunch of non-morphed real people and ask a random sample of people to rate these faces for attractiveness and the averaged face tends to rate consistently high).

That said, it is possible to tweak an average face in various ways to make it rate even higher (the Disneyfication effect--big eyes, slimmer nose etc.), so it's not, in fact, true that the average face is the highest rated face. And it's also the case that many women and men who have been widely regarded as extremely attractive have faces that are not very symmetrical and are quite far from the statistical average.

One of the interesting, and disturbing, features of this research is that these preferences seem to be at some level quite hard-wired and pre-cultural; that is, if you show the averaged face or the "enhanced" average face to a baby alongside a normal face, the baby will tend to look at the "beautiful" face for longer than it looks at the "normal" face.
posted by yoink at 10:05 AM on April 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, she's aiight
posted by cman at 10:12 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


While I think that symmetry and "average ratios" are important in terms of what most people find beautiful, when carried to the extreme we often end up with a sort of uncanny valley thing happening. If people are too symmetrical and too ratio-perfect, then something seems off about them.

Using this site to make an average of all of the female faces produces a face that is almost too perfect and, as such, lands in the uncanny valley for a lot of people; the same is true of the male faces. I recall a similar site (which I can't seem to find) that had images of celebrities that are typically considered very attractive. When you averaged them out you ended up with a face that, while quite symmetrical was also incredibly bland and average in comparison to any of the individual women who made up the composite.

So, while we're off-put by faces that are very asymmetrical, we expect some level of imperfection and may even prefer it to a face that meets the scientific standard of "most beautiful" that is mentioned in the FPP.
posted by asnider at 10:13 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I bristled at the "she's got big eyes, and that's part of being pretty" thing immediately. This is such crap.
posted by cashman at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think she looks charming.

She's at least got a bright future as a motion-capture model for computer animation. Fewer asymmetrical edges to animate!
posted by nicebookrack at 10:26 AM on April 27, 2012


She's super lovely but sort of unremarkable, I guess? I mean, I wouldn't fall down and sob upon seeing her glorious perfection as I would with Aishwarya Rai or anything.
posted by elizardbits at 10:27 AM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


@elizardbits: I agree--Aishwarya Rai is dazzling. If anyone deserves P.G.O.A.T. status (see my comment above), it would be her.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:30 AM on April 27, 2012


Here's a useful site, by the way, with quite a lot of the research behind the "averageness" hypothesis (and why it's at best partially true) explained.

I bristled at the "she's got big eyes, and that's part of being pretty" thing immediately. This is such crap.

Large, wide-set eyes rate pretty consistently highly in attractiveness surveys. There's a reason Disney Princesses all have cow eyes. I mean, if the question is "what is typically considered beautiful in our culture" then "large eyes" is definitely part of that package. Just Google "Renee Zellweger eyes," for example, to see how much negative attention small eyes can draw even for a movie star.
posted by yoink at 10:31 AM on April 27, 2012


Interesting that this image was in amongst the pics of Ms. Colgate at beagle's link...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:31 AM on April 27, 2012


Would they do this to a MAN'S face?

Interestingly enough, averageness may be more important for how people rate male attractiveness than female attractiveness.
posted by yoink at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2012


Large, wide-set eyes rate pretty consistently highly in attractiveness surveys.

If you've got links to them where I can check out the demographics of the respondents and they are something other than like 70% white people, then let me know. Otherwise its business as usual, and surprise surprise, it's the doe eyed white girl that is the most beautifullest thing in this world, and nonwhite women and asian women need to fall back, because just don't "rate highly" in attractiveness surveys white people take.
posted by cashman at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's a diamond's imperfections balanced proportions, radial symmetry, and perfectly polished facets illuminated by point sources of light viewed against a dark background that make it sparkle.

Or alternatively:

It's a diamond's imperfections that make it sparkle special and interesting.
posted by achrise at 10:37 AM on April 27, 2012


If you've got links to them where I can check out the demographics of the respondents and they are something other than like 70% white people

Something like 85% of the British population is white: why would you expect a survey designed to establish the general standards of beauty for Britain to have fewer than 70% white respondents?

That said, there are, in fact, numerous scholarly studies showing surprisingly high consistency--cross-culturally--of standards of beauty. Here's one, for example. The Disney Princess thing works all over the world (and on the wide-set, large eyes standard whites don't actually have a built-in advantage; there's a reason that "doe-eyed beauties" is a standard part off the Orientalist fantasy about Near Eastern women, for example).

The question, of course, is whether this is the result of Western cultural imperialism or some other factor. But to refer to the actual, statistically observable standards of beauty around the world is not to say that these standards are immutable, natural, or "correct." It is simply to observe that the answer to "what are the prevailing cultural standards of beauty" can only be found by asking "what do people by and large identify as beautiful?"
posted by yoink at 10:47 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gotta have booty.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:47 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, what's interesting is how people are judging her looks based on a SINGLE photograph. Many moons ago, I used to be fashion photographer. The thing I could never get over, was how the camera just loves some people and makes them look very attractive in photographs, while in real life, they are either unremarkable or almost freakish. Another factor: makeup. Watching the makeup artists who worked with me, left me with enormous respect for their craft - you can really transform someone withe makeup - and many models absolutely needed the makeup otherwise they would not be judged attractive. Of course, then there was retouching - or nowadays photoshop - and really, the gulf between reality and the photo is enormous.

Getting back to this image. They really picked a photo that shows her to best advantage. There are, plenty of other photographs out there as someone here linked, and most of them reveal many, many flaws in her appearance: she really does need extra length in her face (eyes to mouth) - because especially when she smiles more widely, it foreshortens her face too much, her teeth are no good (too widely proportioned), her ears are trouble, her nose is poor from other angles etc., etc., etc. Now, obviously, she's still quite attractive conventionally, but looking at it from a coldly professional point of view, yeah, I'd say picking an angle on her is critical - and my suspicion is that she's only got one angle - en face. That's not good enough for model material, though she can surely get work in a few catalogues.

The thing is: you can't judge model material based on a single photo - and for that matter, you can't judge attractiveness based on a single photo.
posted by VikingSword at 10:49 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here's a scholarly article that's not paywalled which does a metaanalysis of a great many studies of cross-cultural beauty ratings as well as studies of the social effects of attractiveness (which are extremely powerful--good looking people, male as well as female, are judged better at school, get better jobs, get promoted more readily etc. etc.). If you want to track down scholarly research on the area, it's a reasonable starting point.

Again, recognizing that there are, in fact, widespread standards of "beauty" in our culture (and, indeed, cross-culturally) and that these judgments have powerful social effects is not to say that this is how things "should" be or that anyone is "wrong" for having very different standards of beauty from those of the norm. It's simply to observe the actual social conditions in which we live.
posted by yoink at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's the doe eyed white girl that is the most beautifullest thing in this world, and nonwhite women and asian women need to fall back, because just don't "rate highly" in attractiveness surveys white people take.

P.S. I just Googled "Aishwarya Rai" and "doe-eyed" and got 1.7 million hits.
posted by yoink at 11:06 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


If you want to see how symmetrical YOUR face is (and therefore, is more attractive), try this.

Who has Metafilter's Most Naturally Beautiful Face?! I am dying to know.
posted by rachaelfaith at 11:27 AM on April 27, 2012


The knees, they are a-jerkin' today!

First, the woman is flat-out gorgeous; I find it sadly hilarious that some people are rushing to point out her alleged massive "flaws" as part of a larger effort to make some muddled point about the silliness of beauty standards. She's beautiful, maybe not the most beautiful person in the world or even England, but she'll never have someone she adores decide she's just not... "dating" material because of how she looks. Certainly no one in this thread (although the first few comments were the "sharp knees" level of satire, the rest seemed sincere) who was single and looking to date women would meet this woman on a first date and react with disappointment about her looks. You might decide she's not for you after the date for many other reasons, but you'd certainly not start out thinking she was anything less that physically stunning, or remotely consider her looks a negative point out of the gate.

Second, I think men in the modern western world (note how I said modern and western in there- I'm talking about 21st century city life, people!) are judged just as harshly for their looks as women, it's just not something people usually talk about.

Third, not sure if it's been linked on Metafilter before, but there was an interesting pop-science-y BBC show a few years' ago hosted by John Cleese about Beauty (goes to a 6-part playlist, total viewing time is about 35 minutes although the third section is the most interesting). And... honestly, I'm fairly convinced from that documentary that some of the proportions talked about are universal, and do lead to definitions of beauty held on some level by everyone- and these ratios apply to men and women of all ethnic backgrounds. In that case, the ratios weren't averages, but relations of the golden ratio found all over the face.
posted by hincandenza at 11:30 AM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, I'd say that a prize in this category should go to Matt Bomer, but I'm not entirely sure he's a real human being

I went to the NY reading of Dustin Lance Black's 8, and the male plaintiff couple was read by Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson. It was way too much beautiful in one spot at once; in a brief haze of confusion I almost switched teams and opposed gay marriage just to prevent the possibility of two such beautiful people hoarding all their beauty genes in one family.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:31 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoops- meant the fourth section, not the third.
posted by hincandenza at 11:31 AM on April 27, 2012


Most beautiful woman in England? I have no idea. But boring or average? I'm moving where you live. Except I'd probably never get anything done and would live my life in a haze of pure stupefaction. Which might not be so bad, really.
posted by Justinian at 11:38 AM on April 27, 2012


Who has Metafilter's Most Naturally Beautiful Face?! I am dying to know.

I just tried it, and it said "an error has occurred while submitting your results", so I guess I was hot enough to break the software.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:41 AM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Beauty is in the eye of the camera. Compare the lighting in the submitted headshot to the flash-lit red-eyed Twitter profile pic...
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 11:46 AM on April 27, 2012


Beauty is in the eye of the camera.

That's still a picture of a very attractive young woman, but with crazy sexy devil eyes. And a couple of glasses of white wine inside her. If anything she looks better. What's your point?
posted by tigrefacile at 12:17 PM on April 27, 2012


'Women should not have to feel that they have to wear make-up,' she said. 'I hope people will look at me and think they don't need to. I'm very happy with the way I look and I would never have any plastic surgery or Botox.'

I also spouted such tripe when I was 18. "Let them eat cake" is about right, but I didn't know any better.

Now I say, "do whatever you want to make you happy." If I had money, wasn't lazy, and didn't mind pain, I'd probably be into plastic surgery myself. (And never say never, I say.)
posted by small_ruminant at 12:23 PM on April 27, 2012


She's cute, this contest is very silly, and that divot in her upper lip that lets her teeth peek through is just completely adorable.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:30 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not a girl, it's a photograph of a girl. Huge difference. People are three-dimensional, and move through time and space as well. If you took forty photographs of her in that same studio setting, all from different angles, in some of them she'd be as pretty as she is in the head-on shot, and in some of them she'd probably look like your average British cow. You can't tell squat from a single photograph. Most people are able to look not just different but like entirely different people in different photographs.

I submit that no one involved in this contest or this discussion here knows what she looks like. Most of us would have trouble picking her out of a roomful of similarly blonde white girls.
posted by Fnarf at 12:39 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I volunteer for this experiment.
posted by Justinian at 1:02 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the topic of facial symmetry, I cannot help but recall Darth Vader. In the original Star Wars, the Darth Vader helmet was handmade and terribly asymmetrical. But, as you can see, still very imposing, terrifying, nightmare fodder.

Then Lucas decided to "fix" the helmet in the prequel trilogy installment Revenge of the Sith. This included making the helmet symmetrical. Take a look at the comparison yourself. The original helmet, in my opinion, looks more real, and better representation of Darth Vader's twisted soul.

Of course, I'm talking about Darth Vader in a thread about beauty. My point, though, is that this whole "symmetry=beauty" and "asymmetry=ugly" thing is a shameful lie. Symmetry is false, as noted above; it is the uncanny valley.

Ms. Colgate's face, by the way, is not that symmetrical at all. But that only makes her all the more attractive.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:45 PM on April 27, 2012


She looks a lot like Rebecca Romijn. Like everyone else, I'm totally SHOCKED to see that the most beautiful face is white.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:32 PM on April 27, 2012


I see Florence has taken her chance now I've moved abroad.
posted by Abiezer at 4:38 PM on April 27, 2012


But boring or average? I'm moving where you live.

There is, of course, no logical connection between averageness and boringness; that is, there's no reason that the average should be common or unexceptional. The average coin toss is half heads, half tails, but results where the coin lands and stays on edge are anything but boring. The average Zebra is, presumably, gray all over. The average moon is an exact half moon--which occurs no more or less frequently than any other state etc. etc.

The vast majority of people deviate notably in some way from the average; for someone to do so very little makes them exceptional and striking.
posted by yoink at 4:42 PM on April 27, 2012


Like everyone else, I'm totally SHOCKED to see that the most beautiful face is white.

This is in a country which is more than 92% white. I hardly think it is fair to criticize them for picking someone who represents more than 92% of the country. Wouldn't it actually be rather surprising if the winner was in the other 7.x%?
posted by Justinian at 4:49 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


in some of them she'd probably look like your average British cow.

WTF?
posted by yoink at 4:52 PM on April 27, 2012


Here's a scholarly article that's not paywalled which does a metaanalysis of a great many studies of cross-cultural beauty ratings as well as studies of the social effects of attractiveness (which are extremely powerful--good looking people, male as well as female, are judged better at school, get better jobs, get promoted more readily etc. etc.). If you want to track down scholarly research on the area, it's a reasonable starting point.

Thanks for the link. Actually if you (or anyone else) wants to link to any study, I should be able to get access to it. Thank you for taking the time to search for, locate, and link this study. That said, I see where they briefly reference what we're talking about, but do you see anywhere in the paper where they draw conclusions and make a statement related to race, regarding the findings? Can you copy/paste it, or give me the paragraph and the gist of what it says? I looked through all 34 pages and I didn't see anything like what I'm describing.

Again, recognizing that there are, in fact, widespread standards of "beauty" in our culture (and, indeed, cross-culturally) and that these judgments have powerful social effects is not to say that this is how things "should" be or that anyone is "wrong" for having very different standards of beauty from those of the norm. It's simply to observe the actual social conditions in which we live.

I feel like you're discussing this in good faith, so I'm sure you're cringing at what you typed, but this is basically saying a white standard of beauty is the norm. It is not. But I get what you're trying to say.

Something like 85% of the British population is white: why would you expect a survey designed to establish the general standards of beauty for Britain to have fewer than 70% white respondents?

And here's where you have to come to my point of view a bit. Because we know good and well that this is getting trumpeted and posted as "This woman is the most beautiful". Not the most beautiful white woman. Not the most beautiful white woman in Britain - the most beautiful woman.

And that's what happens with so many studies and articles and items like this. White is so default, so "norm" as you write, that many people truly believe that it is okay to leave off those qualifiers. There will be American studies that are surveys of essentially all white people, but the results are never framed with "In a study, whites thought x" where race is not a part of the examination.

Is this post called "Is white beauty boring?" I tried to do a search for mainstream new publications that referenced this story, but I only came up with a couple:

Does this woman have the perfect face? - San Francisco Chronicle.
Most Beautiful Girl in the World? Why She's Naturally Perfect - ABC News: Good Morning America.
ABC Madrid says "La más bella, matemáticamente". What's the translation?

But I think you are quite familiar with what I mean. And I get what you're trying to say as well. Another thing I thought about which makes it even worse and invalidates saying "Oh look, nonwhites find her attractive too" is the same topic Chris Rock made a movie about. Due to who sits in positions of power in our society, we get a skewed view of what beauty is, so that you have little black kids hating black dolls and wanting white ones. I'm guessing you're familiar with that, and you're saying it isn't right in your comments.

So yeah, back to my comment, yes I think this is stupid, and trying to say there is some kind of scientific basis where this woman is unquestionably beautiful, does not work. Unless you're limiting it to be non-generalizable, or agreeing that "beautiful" is meaningless because of most of these studies, skewed values based on a skewed society, and so forth.

The more I see the story isn't showing up in a lot of reputable news sources, the more I realize I've overanalyzed a silly fluff piece, but all this stuff adds up, and it gets annoying. The story is going around like she is scientifically the most beautiful woman on earth. Perhaps that's the problem of people who don't read the details, but I guess my point is that it seems to happen a lot where it is some white standard that gets foisted on everyone else, and the publisher(s) never say this only applies to white people. It is off the radar for a lot of people, but on some occasions it becomes evident that the features of the nonwhite face are often invisible to the white gaze.
posted by cashman at 5:09 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


P.S. I just Googled "Aishwarya Rai" and "doe-eyed" and got 1.7 million hits.

Given Aishwarya Rai's level of fame, adoration and lust-inspiration in the second most populous country on earth, that's hardly remarkable. Google "Aishwarya Rai" and literally anything at all, and you'll be amazed at the results:

"Aishwarya Rai" + "noodles" = 4,030,000 hits
"Aishwarya Rai" + "postage" = 5,560,000 hits
"Aishwarya Rai" + "ophthalmologist" = 721,000
"Aishwarya Rai" + "anything at all" = 1,050,000

posted by gompa at 5:55 PM on April 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oops, borked my last link:

"Aishwarya Rai" + "anything at all" = 1,050,000

(Never mind symmetry - some of us are born with flawless comedic timing and note-perfect execution, and some . . .)
posted by gompa at 5:59 PM on April 27, 2012


And here's where you have to come to my point of view a bit. Because we know good and well that this is getting trumpeted and posted as "This woman is the most beautiful". Not the most beautiful white woman. Not the most beautiful white woman in Britain - the most beautiful woman.

The first sentence in the FPP:
18-year-old, Florence Colgate, has been blessed with what has been deemed the most naturally beautiful face in England.
I feel like you're discussing this in good faith, so I'm sure you're cringing at what you typed, but this is basically saying a white standard of beauty is the norm.

I'm not sure that you are discussing this in good faith--given that the statement you're quoting says nothing whatsoever about these standards being "white" standards.

You seem to think that I was somehow referring to the standards by which this particular young woman was selected in that statement (which I was not--I was talking in general terms about the existence of discernible shared cultural norms of "beauty"). Had I been talking specifically about the English context, however, the comment would still have been unexceptionable. That the prevailing cultural norms of "beauty" in a country that is overwhelmingly white would be "white" norms seems self-evident. That the norms prevailing in England will not be those prevailing in Botswana or Ulan-Bator also seems self-evident. Somehow I don't suspect you would think it shocking and wrong that the winner of a contest to find the "most beautiful person in Ulan-Bator" would be very unlikely to turn up someone who looks Florence Colgate. In fact I imagine you'd find it rather disquieting if it did. Nor would you suggest that a comment to the effect that their selection reflected the prevailing beauty norms of Ulan Bator somehow implied that those norms must prevail in every possible context throughout the world.
posted by yoink at 6:00 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps that's the problem of people who don't read the details

Irony.
posted by yoink at 6:02 PM on April 27, 2012


I said a lot more than you responded to. Linked a few things you didn't respond to. Didn't see anything in that article you linked. But I guess we're talking past each other at this point. It's a flawed exercise at this point.
posted by cashman at 6:14 PM on April 27, 2012


If two eyes on one side of the face was beautiful enough for Picasso, it's beautiful enough for me. Who needs symmetry?
posted by Schmucko at 6:16 PM on April 27, 2012


mrgrimm: “Like everyone else, I'm totally SHOCKED to see that the most beautiful face is white.”

Justinian: “This is in a country which is more than 92% white. I hardly think it is fair to criticize them for picking someone who represents more than 92% of the country.”

Well, she looks more than 92% white, though, doesn't she? So that still can't be right. If she were really representative, she'd be precisely 92% white.

Of course, the other problem is that she's supposed to be representative of a country in which about 14% of people have beards. So to be truly representative, she'd have to find 14% of a beard somewhere.

Okay, yeah, I still find this who exercise completely ridiculous. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 6:20 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


If two eyes on one side of the face was beautiful enough for Picasso, it's beautiful enough for me. Who needs symmetry?

We're floundering here...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:26 PM on April 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


Of course, the other problem is that she's supposed to be representative of a country in which about 14% of people have beards. So to be truly representative, she'd have to find 14% of a beard somewhere.

The photo is of her head only, but I'm willing to go way out on a limb and speculate that she might have 14% of a beard, somewhere.
posted by Forktine at 7:38 PM on April 27, 2012


It sure was depressing coming and reading this comment thread, directly after reading the Sexy Baby comment thread.
posted by Joh at 9:24 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Symmetry and evenness are a huge turn-off for people with taste, sophistication and character.

Agreed, nothing screams sophistication louder than strict demands for physical appearance.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:55 PM on April 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I said a lot more than you responded to.

You completely misread the FPP and you flagrantly (and insultingly) imputed claims to me that I never made. I'm not sure why you think I would want to get into a detailed point-by-point argument with someone who is building their argument on utterly mistaken premises.

Didn't see anything in that article you linked.

I linked two articles. One, paywalled, specifically on the question of cross-ethnic judgments of beauty. You seem to have simply ignored that one. The other, non-paywalled, a meta analysis of a wide range of beauty research. If you want to find the stuff specifically about research into cross-ethnic standards of beauty you might try searching for, oh, I don't know, "ethnic" or "cross-ethnic." If you actually have any interesting in learning something about this (which, frankly, does not seem to be the case) I would suggest finding the articles in their bibliography which they compile under Appendix A "Studies Included in Meta-Analyses of Cross-Cultural and Cross-Ethnic Reliability." Studies, for example, such as "They don't all look alike: individuated impressions of other racial groups." From the abstract to that article:
Reliability, content, and homogeneity of own- and other-race impressions were assessed: U.S. White, U.S. Black, and Korean students rated faces of White, Black, or Korean men. High intraracial reliabilities revealed that people of 1 race showed equally high agreement regarding the traits of own- and other-race faces. Racially universal appearance stereotypes--the attractiveness halo effect and the babyface overgeneralization effect--contributed substantially to interracial agreement, which was only marginally lower than intraracial agreement.
Finally, you might want to ponder the implications of the fact that the Chinese refer to Europeans and those of European extraction generally as "big noses." Were the Chinese to run a contest to find the "most beautiful woman in China" you could bet any amount of money you want that that woman would have a nose strikingly less pronounced than the European average. That is a prevailing "norm" of beauty in China. I take it that you don't mind me pointing out that just because this is a prevailing norm in China, that does not mean that those who hold to alternative norms are 'wrong' to do so? Or is this a brutal imposition of sino-normativity onto a poor, unsuspecting world?
posted by yoink at 5:48 AM on April 28, 2012


One, paywalled, specifically on the question of cross-ethnic judgments of beauty. You seem to have simply ignored that one.

Study 1 (of their 3 in their 1995 paper):
The three groups (Asian/Hispanic/White) did not display a significant consensus concerning the Black women
For study 3:
Participants. Sixty-three male students (29 Black and 34 White; M
age = 21.09 years) were volunteers in this study to partially fulfill course
requirements.
But the research does suggest (low N and all) that a larger eye area is attractive across multiple cultures. Then you get into the effect society has had on black men
A large nose area reduced attractiveness ratings by Blacks and had a marginal impact on Whites.
"Who taught you to hate yourself?" - "Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose?" (1962) I don't think we can unpack these ratings from the context they are in. The authors of this study say as much, even as they make an attempt to. They say they tried to tease out the effect of western culture, but that the students were already exposed in preparing for study in America.

One that that was interesting was Figure 1 (page 266). Things like section 23 (hair width) - it would be interesting to see how that played out. In other words, to see how people reacted to black women not straightening/perming their hair. The 5 images they used for black women were from Barbados, the Bahamas, Paraguay, New Guinea, and Trinidad. I wish we could see the images used. The 2 authors say "The Asian, Hispanic, Black, and non-American White target women had been participants in an international beauty contest and, as such, had been selected by members of their own culture as being attractive." Interesting, because that could also mean they were selected for having the best chance at winning the international contest. I didn't see in the study where they disclose what international beauty contest this was, but here is a link to a wiki description of the top 4:
Major international contests for women include the yearly Miss World competition (founded by Eric Morley in 1951), Miss Universe (founded in 1952), Miss International (founded in 1960) and Miss Earth (founded in 2001 with environmental awareness as its concern). These are considered the "Big Four" pageants, the four largest and most famous international beauty contests.
Miss Earth didn't exist in 1995, so looking at Miss World, Miss Universe and Miss International combined it is not surprising that that although the push is for the belief that there isn't a skew against black women, that only a handful of black women have won any of these contests. So yes, again, the black face is so many times invisible to the white gaze. Things are skewed.

take it that you don't mind me pointing out that just because this is a prevailing norm in China

Again, it is known to many that white standards get trotted out as default. This article and articles like it get passed around as being default. Are you saying you are unfamiliar with this? It happens all day every day.

In fact, it just happened. Look at this post from a few hours ago. In DeHann's study 1, there are 89 participants. Two are black. In study 3 they have 189 participants. 9 are black.

Are the results presented as the beliefs, actions, attributes or behaviors of white people? No. This happens all day every day. If all the study participants were Chinese (since you used that in your post) American, do you think that the study would reliably be passed around as just a general statement on attitudes? How about if it was almost all black people?

Believe what you want. This stuff happens all day every day, and has gone on for decades. I get upset when I see these stories because I know how they get passed around and discussed. Just like the post from a few hours ago. If I had another few hours to play with you, I could go down a list of metafilter posts that link to research articles, how the participants are mostly white, and how the results get reported as general findings, because white is viewed as default. But believe what you want. I have things to do.
posted by cashman at 8:36 AM on April 28, 2012


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