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Confidence Is Beautiful

Riddle me this—if the classic beauty of Angelina Jolie is considered ideal, why is it that Jennifer Aniston is almost universally preferred by red-blooded American males? It turns out the scientific answer holds great news for the average American female (and suggests some promising tips on how to feel better about your appearance).

Don’t believe us that Jolie is the more classically beautiful of the two actresses? There’s a great comparison at guff.com that rates Aniston against the Golden Ratio, a formula for judging the balance of a person’s facial features against a mathematical ideal. According to Guff, Aniston’s facial analysis is as follows:

  • Her facial features are too scrunched togetheraellucilleball
  • Her eyes are set too closely together
  • Her nose is too long and too wide
  • Her lips are not full enough
  • Her chin is too narrow

Ouch. According to this rating, Aniston seems pretty average—the lucky gal. It turns out, according to a 2006 study, that humans have a natural affinity for mathematically average faces. We begin at infancy to categorize facial features and log what a nose looks like or what a set of eyes look like and how those features fit together to form a face, and once we’ve developed a set of expectations, we feel rewarded when a new face matches the model we’ve locked into our brains. In other words, we prefer the kind of face we’re already familiar with. Apparently there’s a biological advantage to this preference, as average faces tend to belong to individuals with the kind of diverse genetic make-up that generally ensures better reproductive ability.

So what does this mean for the vast majority of us with imperfectly average faces? Maybe it means a few tweaks is all it would take to feel confident in our beauty. (Hint—confidence is an excellent beauty booster!) Again, science has some helpful takeaways from real world studies:

Be kind. According to research out of the University of Texas, kindness is one of the most attractive traits in a mate and separate research has shown it to be one of the most common traits in happy longterm relationships. Kindness to others is important but it also pays to be kind to yourself. If you feel better, it makes it a lot easier to make others feel better as well.

Be interested in others. It’s no accident that charismatic people are often described as making the person they’re talking to at a gathering feel like they’re the only person in the room. Looking someone in the eye, leaning in to show interest and actually listening to what the person says is magical. The focus on the other person takes you out of your own head and diminishes your insecurities, making you more confident. There’s that confidence again!

Be cheerful and honest. Nobody wants to be around a whiner but don’t fake your happiness, because research shows honest people are rewarded for their openness by earning attractiveness bonus points.

Be yourself. What may sound nerdish to you can sound fascinatingly different to someone else. Studies show people are attracted to other people with a passion for a unique hobby or interest. So don’t hide your Star Wars action figure collection or the fact you own seven cats; post the Facebook pictures with confidence!

Be confident. You knew that one was coming, didn’t you? It’s true—confidence is probably the most flattering thing you can wear. Nobody’s saying it’s easy to maintain confidence in your appearance though. According to the Dove Beauty and Confidence Report  71% of women say the media could do a better job of displaying a diversity of female body types, which may be why 85% of the women in the study reported opting out of some social situations because of appearance concerns. The key to maintaining confidence may be in being yourself, being honest about your body, and being being kind in your self-assessment. Remember, even Jennifer Aniston isn’t perfect.

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