This post is essentially two things: 1. A follow-up to the much-read post My 40 Year Old Face, Uber Photoshopped (though I am 41 now), and 2. A study in facial symmetry, and probably scaring the living daylights out of you. It still scares me, even though it IS me.
Now that you've hopefully stopped with the "Whoah, what is that?!", I can explain the technique I used to carry out this experiment, which addresses the theory that symmetrical faces are more beautiful. I'm not the first person to create images this way - since seeing it done by photographer Julian Wolkenstein, I've been wanting to photograph my own face and see how it would look in perfect symmetry.
So how exactly are these strange portraits created?
You take a standard portraits of yourself (as above) and create two symmetrical images - one using the right side of your face mirrored, and another using the left. The GIF below shows my face scrolling between the original, the right mirror image, and the left mirror image.
The right side duplicated (my right side)
The left side duplicated (my left side)
It is quite frankly bizarre, fascinating and totally FREAKY all at the same time. I did this experiment a while ago and the results were so frightening I was more than a little hesitant to share them with you. The mirrored right side looks like a creepy, thin alien girl, and the left... Oh, the left. I look like Sandra Bullock on steroids, masquerading as an Olympic shotputter. Not a good look.
“I look like Sandra Bullock on steroids”
I took the original at the same time I shot the photos for my How To Star In Your Very Own Luxury Brand Advertising Campaign post - I was purposely wearing a lot of contouring make up for that project, so I think it's interesting how the very thing that's supposed to enhance your features does nothing to improve the freakish creatures that have resulted. I was horrified when a few clicks of the mouse joined each side with its mirror image, and revealed that I have an uneven jawline, huge differences in each side of my neck, a mouth that's not in line with my nose and one eyebrow higher than the other.
But you know what? I'm sure you're already thinking this, but as with the result of Part One of my Photoshopped face experiment, the "new and improved" version(s) of my face are so much less appealing than the original. (One thing to note: apart from the mirror imaging, I have not Photoshopped my face in any way - so you get to see it completely untouched by the airbrush, pores and all. No amount of make up can prevent the glare of a ring flash that bright, so my face isn't oily, it's reflecting really bright light. In other words, no foundation is as good as it appears in the adverts.)
“Take comfort in the fact that our real faces are more appealing”
If you have a perfectly symmetrical face to begin with, then maybe this experiment would simply prove that symmetry is more attractive - I'd have to see the results from symmetrical portraits created of someone with such a "perfect" face. Otherwise the 99.9% of us that have asymmetrical faces can take comfort in the fact that our real faces, with all their imperfections, are more appealing than the enhanced versions.
So - beauty in symmetry? Not in my case, that's for sure...!