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Chins Prove There’s No Such Thing As Universal Beauty

Dartmouth researchers studied chin shapes of 180 recently deceased male and female skeletons from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe

Photo: Helga Weber

The Greeks set the bar on ideal, universal beauty back in the pre-Socratic days of Pythagoras. Beauty, these mathematically inclined philosophers and scholars concluded, depends upon proportion and symmetry  regardless of whether it applies to a woman’s body or a Greek palace.

In the Renaissance, these ideas were taken up with a new fervor and this time applied more directly to judging the human form. The Renaissance ideal of “classical beauty” survived the years, defining the standard of both male and female beauty that has endured until today, especially in the West. More recently, studies reinforced the idea of a shared universal ideal for human beauty based upon symmetry’s underlying indication of good genes.

Chins, however, may be the exception. New research published in PLoS One proves that there is no global consensus for what makes an ideal chin. 

Dartmouth researchers studied chin shapes of 180 recently deceased male and female skeletons from Australia, Africa, Asia and Europe. Chin shapes, they found, differ significantly in all of these regions. According to what researchers call the universal facial attractiveness hypothesis, some facial features are preferred across cultures because they’re a good signal of mate quality. If chins were indeed an important factor in determining a mate’s attractiveness and quality, they reasoned, then over the years human chins of shared proportions would have been selected for and become the norm, regardless of location.

“Our results suggest that chin shape is geographically variable in both sexes, challenging the notion of universal sexual selection on chin shape,” the researchers say in a statement

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