Thursday, May 25, 2006

It is all in the face

According to research conducted by Dr Lynda Boothroyd of St Andrews University, an unhappy childhood has an impact on your face. Girls who grow up without a father, or where parents argue, are likely to look "masculine". Girls with happy parents are more likely to develop into women perceived as "feminine". Women participating in the study were separated into 3 groups and asked about their childhood. Photographs were the taken of the women. The faces of women who had happy childhoods have a more "oval shape, more curved eyebrows and bigger eyes" and "this is clearly a more feminine face" than women who had an unhappy childhood

As Dorothy Parker said, what fresh hell is this? So a woman who had a happy childhood looks like a cast member from the telly programme, Hollyoaks and a woman, like myself, who had a difficult, unhappy and traumatic childhood, looks like the bride of Frankenstein.

Firstly, why was the research only focusing on women and not men? Men too can have unhappy childhoods. And how do the researchers interpret beauty? Are they saying women who look "masculine" are ugly and women who look "feminine" are beautiful? I have looked at the some of the examples of the photos and I can't tell the difference.

This bizarre and deterministic notion is purely based on sexist assumptions on how a woman should look as we live in a society, which is saturated with images of the "perfect woman". This so-called scientific investigation just exaggerates this myth. Does it matter how we look and shouldn't research concentrate more on how an unhappy childhood impacts on later life?

There is an assumption as well that girls growing up without a dad will ultimately cause them unhappiness. I really despair at this simplicity as many people have different experiences, good and bad, of growing up with or without both parents. This study seems to me to be holding up the heterosexual nuclear family as a shining example of happiness.

Yes, stress and unhappiness takes its toll on adults as well as children, along with the daily grind of life and it will have an impact on how you look but to reduce it to gender stereotypes and the beauty myth is utterly foolish. It is all skin deep.

Cheers Dr Boothroyd, you made my day

I have used the picture of Elsa Lancaster as the Bride of Frankenstein as I like it and think she looks stunning.