Beauty trends come and go, but one iron law of psychology remains: People with symmetrical faces are considered, by study subjects, to be more attractive. For years, the prevailing theory has been that this is because we use symmetry as a proxy for health, and thus, good genes.
Whether or not you spent every January of your childhood wheezing under the covers likely reflects on your countenance in subtle ways. Supposedly, these minuscule changes later warn potential suitors—likely subconsciously—to stay away.
Much to the delight of ashthmatics everywhere, a new study pokes holes in the idea that facial symmetry and good health are synonymous. Using health data from 4,732 teenagers, psychologist Nicholas Pound at Brunel University London correlated each participant's history of rashes, aches, and infections with their facial symmetry, as determined by a 3-D scan.
The result? The more symmetrical teens weren't necessarily the healthiest ones. "This study does not support the idea that facial symmetry acts as a reliable cue to physiological health," the authors wrote.
Take that, Gisele Bundchen! Or should I say, Typhoid Mary. The wildly askew schnoz of Adrien Brody might be a better picture of well-being.