Nowadays, beauty ideals and physical perfection are everywhere, but can you point to one woman who exemplifies the ideal that we should all strive for? Our ideal is sort of all over the board, but in 1934, one woman wholly exemplified the ideal face: actress Sylvia Sidney. She was chosen as the gold standard for being a good-lookin’ female at a conference for film makeup artists, and was especially noted for the symmetry and oval shape of her face.
An annotated photo of Sidney’s face from that very conference gives us a rubric for grading female beauty:
1. Length of face equals length of three noses.
2. Width of an eye between the eyes.
3. Upper and lower lips are the same width.
4. Symmetrical eyebrows conforming to the line of nose.
5. Space from lower eyelid to upper eyelid is the same as space from upper eyelid to eyebrow.
6. Eyebrow begins on same line as corner of eye nearest nose.
7. Width of face across cheeks equals two lengths of nose.
We all know that there’s only one way to be beautiful, so how would other ladies stack up against these guidelines? I’ve picked women (from this weird list) who were most
jerked off to celebrated for being stone cold foxes in the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00′s, and today. I’ll score them on a scale of 1 to 7, based on the criteria above. Important note about rules: I used a front-facing photo of each actress to conduct these tests, so I know it’s accurate.
1970s: Farrah Fawcett
Fawcett wins points for having lips that are roughly the same width, symmetrical eyebrows, and a face width that equals two noses. Her score? 3/7. Not great.
1980s: Bo Derek
Bo Derek earns herself some points for her face length and width, which are 1934-perfect, and her lips are relatively the same thickness. Her score? 3/7. So far we’ve got a tie, and it’s not looking great for conventionally attractive women.
1990s: Claudia Schiffer
Noted unspeakable troll Claudia Schiffer doesn’t even come close to measuring up, scoring a measly 2/7. She is the first person on this list, however, to gain points for having eyebrows that begin that the inner corner of her eyes, so hopefully that’s some consolation for her.
2000s: Scarlett Johansson
Thankfully in all of this ugliness an actual beauty has emerged. Johansson’s only flaw is that her eyebrows don’t conform to the line of her nose, even though I’m not actually sure what that means. 6/7 is the number to beat, dummies.
Today: Kerry Washington
Finally, a perfect score! Washington scored a 7/7 for her face width/length being in perfect proportion to her nose, her eye spacing being spot-the-hell-on, and her lips are the exact same size. She even scored well on the controversial and challenging eye height-to-eyelid size ratio. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! This is what beautiful looks like.
Obviously, these women are all gorgeous, and this illustrates just how silly the concept of beauty ideals is. When I first saw the criteria that made Sidney the pinnacle of beauty back in the 1930s, I thought it was silly to draw seemingly arbitrary geometry-based standards to consider a woman beautiful. But nowadays we’ve even gone further: our standard doesn’t even exist! It reminds me of this passage from Tina Fey‘s Bossy Pants:
Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits.
How about we all agree to move past 1934 and decide that there is no specific definition of beauty, and the forms that beauty takes are as diverse as the people that exemplify them?