The Beautification Engine

Photo: Lars Klove for The New York Times / Manipulation by Tommer Leyvand

Tommer Leyvand and colleagues have created a "beautification engine," a software program that uses a mathematical formula to alter a person's face into what theoretically is the more "beautiful" version, while retaining "unmistakable similarity" to the original:

Studies have shown that there is surprising agreement about what makes a face attractive. Symmetry is at the core, along with youthfulness; clarity or smoothness of skin; and vivid color, say, in the eyes and hair. There is little dissent among people of different cultures, ethnicities, races, ages and gender.

Yet, like the many other attempts to use objective principles or even mathematical formulas to define beauty, this software program raises what psychologists, philosophers and feminists say are complex, even disturbing, questions about the perception of beauty and a beauty ideal.

To what extent is beauty quantifiable? Does a supposedly scientific definition merely reflect the ideal of the moment, built from the images of pop culture and the news media?


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Well, I know for one thing this will make a lot of plastic surgeons a whole lot richer when they use this to convince a client who came in to fix a scar to fix the whole face.
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Has anyone realised that if symmetry is actually key to beauty, you could take either half of any face image and reflect it, and you would have a beautiful face? This is obviously not the case, and even the most beautiful face put through this procedure gives quite a different result for each side, hence asymmetry. Obviously, the perception of symmetry is an integral part of a beautiful face, but only if the proportions of the features to each other are correct. A beautiful face is close to symmetrical, but a symmetrical face is not necessariy beautiful. If you look on a popular search engine for "beauty mask" you will find reference to a mask for measuring beauty based on the golden ratio which is the basis for all natural beauty as found in trees, flowers, sea shells etc. This is a far more useful and accurate measuring stick than symmetry alone could ever possibly be. Sorry for the long winded response but this attempt to oversimplify the attributes of facial beauty by talking simply about symmetry really annoys me. It's like saying a dog has four legs, therefore if it has four legs, it must be a dog!??
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eh? On the ones in the link I thought they looked mostly the same, but in the one shown here, I think she looks MUCH better in the after picture. Not sure what everyone saying she looked better in the before are talking about...
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Christine, you're only saying that because, like most of the other people here, you don't want to appear shallow. You'd like to think that you're above the notions of beauty that society drums into you. And yet, you still try and improve yourself, you diet, wear high heels and makeup, shave your legs, pluck your eyebrows, and do the myriad other things to make yourself more attractive.
What's the new black this season? Do I look fat in this?
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