In the 15th and 16th centuries, Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci adhered to the concept of Divine Proportion (also known as the Golden Section), which uses mathematical ratios to predict whether or not an object or a person is aesthetically pleasing.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci adhered to the concept of Divine Proportion (also known as the Golden Section), which uses mathematical ratios to predict whether or not an object or a person is aesthetically pleasing. Da Vinci saw beauty as a combination of symmetry and proportion, perceived to be objective and universal.
Beauty has an entirely different meaning today based on the results of a study by the Yale School of Medicine. Factors such as ethnic and cultural background are much more important than any Divine Proportion, according to Dr. Peter Niclas Broer, former resident at Yale Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “It is now commonly accepted that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” he says. “How can it be that we have such different perceptions of beauty? As a European, what I find attractive is not what, say, Americans might find attractive. We wanted to get data from different countries to evaluate and potentially objectivize aesthetic preferences of the face.”
1,226 people (39% of them women and over half of them plastic surgeons) from 50 nations completed a short interactive form where they could modify a face according to their personal preferences.
The researchers needed a way to display the results and highlight global disparities at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. Sabrina Juran, Census Analyst at the United Nations Population Fund, had been working since 2010 with a data visualization tool developed by the UN called DevInfo; she felt that its mapping software was ideal to showcase differences among geographic locations.
“As soon as you have variables broken down by geography, it makes sense in any kind of realm to use DevInfo,” she says. While government departments, UN agencies, and development partners are usually the ones interacting with the database system, Ms. Juran decided to work with Yale physicians in order to create maps such as this one:
Note: the researchers are currently expanding the scope of the study to include additional respondents.
Click here to access and take the survey.
Data making a difference.
For more information, please contact Ms. Sabrina Juran, Census Analyst, UNFPA, at firstname.lastname@example.org.