However, four scientists from Tel Aviv University think differently. They recently unveiled a new computer program that contains a “beautification engine,” which uses a mathematical formula to alter a face in a photograph to a theoretically more attractive version. According to the programmers, the program maintains an “unmistakable similarity” to the original. The software program is based on the responses of 68 German and Israeli men and women, age 25 to 40, who viewed photographs of white female and male faces and picked the most attractive ones. With this data and an algorithm involving 234 measurements between facial features, like the distance between eyes, scientists trained the computer to determine which distances were the most attractive for each individual face and choose the ideal closest to the original face. They have not developed a program that will be a “beauty estimator” for nonwhite racial and ethnic groups.But is real beauty sacrificed by this computer program? After viewing before and after photos of faces altered by this program, Dr. Lois W. Banner, who has studied changing standards of beauty, said the original faces were more attractive. “Irregular beauty is real beauty,” said Banner, adding that culture drives us to attempt to measure beauty in the hopes of making everyone look alike. What can be lost are the quirky features or character that makes someone attractive in the first place.
For example, a photo of Brigitte Bardot was put through the program and her full and pouty lips were deflated, and her beauty seemed less striking. Also, a couple of women that had their likenesses altered said they preferred their original faces.
Tommer Leyvand, one of the developers, said there were practical uses for his software, including advertisement, films and animation. But I believe the use of this program in advertisement and entertainment will take us back to the days when there was only a few acceptable ideals of beauty, especially since the program ignores the majority of people on this planet. Quirky features add character to a face. I’m sure we’ve all seen people that don’t fit the traditional standard of beauty, but are somehow attractive, making it difficult to stop staring. That’s why, I think, models like Alek Wek, Lauren Hutton and Agyness Deyn have been so successful. [New York Times]