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THE BEAUTY QUOTIENT FORMULAHOW TO FIND YOUR OWN BEAUTY QUOTIENT TO LOOK YOUR BEST-NO MATTER WHAT YOUR AGE
By ROBERT M. TORNAMBE
HAY HOUSE, INC.Copyright © 2010 Robert M. Tornambe
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHow to Deconstruct a Face to Discover Its BQ
How old is the quest for beauty? Oh, probably as old as civilization itself!
The Egyptians were as obsessed with beauty rituals as the ladies of today who pore over Allure magazine while getting one of their regular pedicures. Mummies have been found not just with gold and jewels but also with tweezers, pots of lip dyes, and recipes to combat wrinkles and pimples-after all, what royal Egyptian lady would have gone to the underworld without her upper lids lined with black kohl, her brows arched with antimony, or her body poisoned with the thick layer of pale lead paste carefully applied to her face?
Fortunately for the Egyptians, not every beauty treatment was toxic. During her reign circa 1400 B.C., Nefertiti was fond of a mixture of rainwater, natural limewater, and a clay paste made from Nile mud that she rubbed on her body with the aid of a pumice stone every morning. It was her unique exfoliation treatment, often followed with rehydrating and relaxing masks made from ostrich eggs, clay, oil, and milk.
The ancient Greeks left outthe ostrich eggs, but they did make a long-lasting blush from crushed blackberries and figs. Take a look at this handy list of courtesan beauty aids, courtesy of Aristophanes: "Clippers, mirrors, grease-paint, soda, false hair, bands, ribbons, red paint, white lead, myrrh, pumice stones, vials, seaweed paint, chains for the neck, eye paint, gold ornaments for the hair, hair nets, girdles, mantillas, combs, earrings, ear-pendants, necklaces adorned with precious stones, bracelets, arm buckles, hair buckles, foot buckles, finger rings, beauty plasters, and hair supports."
The Greeks devised a formula to define beauty as a face that was two-thirds as long as it was wide; the brow one-third of the way down from the hairline and the mouth one-third way up from the chin.
The Roman writer Petronius took these measurements a bit further. According to his musings, the Roman ideal of beauty was a fair complexion, low forehead, and long eyebrows that met over the bridge of the nose. (Based on this description, Mexican artist Frida Kahlo would have likely found favor with Petronius.) A woman would need to have as much help as possible to combat the aftereffects of Roman cosmetology, which included such frightening beautifying processes as a face pack of sheep fat mixed with bread crumbs soaked in milk or crocodile excrement-to be left on all night!
Only slightly less hideous were Medieval dermatologic treatments, when skin was polished and whitened with a revolting concoction of arsenic sulfide, quick lime, ointments of hedgehog ashes, bats' blood, bees' wings, mercury, and slug slime. Hair was bleached with henna and animal innards. In the 1600s, makeup was made from highly toxic white lead mixed with chalk or in a paste of vinegar and egg whites. Interesting ingredients indeed, but on the other hand, sometimes I look at the long string of chemicals listed on the packaging of a 21st-century wrinkle cream, and I have to wonder how much has really changed!
Potions and concoctions aside, 21st-century discussions of beauty revolve around what we call AU, or aesthetic units. The eyes and the forehead are one AU. Your nose and midface, including your mouth, comprise your second AU. The chin and neck are the third AU. Each AU should flow seamlessly from one to another. It helps to think of these AUs as another way to group areas of the face, much as, during the Renaissance, Botticelli's formula for the glorious faces he painted was to break a face down into sevenths.
Still, AUs are helpful more from an anatomic point of view, or for considering symmetry, than they are for assessing what makes a beautiful face. For example, when plastic surgeons must reconstruct one part of the face after disfiguring cancer surgery or an automobile accident, the AUs assist in the planning of the reconstructive operations.
That these three AUs are interrelated is often something that plastic surgery patients don't understand at first. Which is why someone who wants her eyes done may look much better if she has a mini brow lift at the same time; someone who wants her nose reduced may look much better with a chin implant as well.
Striving to have a fairly uniform AU is pretty much the ideal of what Western society seems to identify as "classic" beauty. In fact, researchers in Australia have created computer software using an equation based on 14 facial measurements, 13 related ratios, and images of supermodels, actors, and more than 200 other women, so that when a photograph of a woman's face is fed into the program, it instantly returns a beauty rating of between one and ten.
According to the computer, beauty consists of even features; an oval-shaped face; large eyes; shapely and distinct cheekbones; a straight, small nose; well-shaped and defined lips; a round, firm chin; a long neck; round, high breasts; a trim waist; wide yet shapely hips; firm buttocks; long legs; and a slim figure. (And this "classic" beauty is usually classic only for Caucasians, not other races.)
Many women with similar AU measurements will have completely different BQ scores-being thought of as a classic beauty, with anatomically symmetrical AUs, doesn't automatically translate into a high BQ score. Sometimes AUs that are slightly distorted, such as large, full lips on a relatively small face, can be quite striking and attractive.
And some women whose features fall far from the notion of classic, often have some of the highest BQ scores possible. This was noted in an unusual way when computer scientists in Israel, as reported in the August 2008 proceedings of Siggraph, a computer graphics conference, developed what they called a "beautification engine." After 234 measurements were taken from faces, measuring the distance between features as well as other factors, they created a program based on their mathematical calculations of what was considered beautiful.
The results were fascinating. Asymmetrical eyes were evened out; large noses were reduced; chins grew stronger; cheekbones became more defined. Yet as the delicious little quirks of anatomy were erased entirely, the faces often looked worse or unnatural. Unusual beauties became merely pretty, which reinforces the basic BQ premise that it is the unique nuances of a woman's face-the traits and features that are not classically beautiful-that give her not just individuality but also beauty.
Most astonishing was the transformation of French superstar Brigitte Bardot, whose distinctively full upper lip and famous overbite were reduced-and in the click of a mouse her unique lusciousness disappeared. She became ordinary. So much for "beautification"!
Clearly, there is no such thing as the perfect nose or mouth or eyes or cheekbones, whether in real life or on a computer screen. This notion also supports my belief that running to a plastic surgeon in order to become more beautiful would, in some cases, be a huge mistake. Had Bardot changed the shape of her lips or gotten her teeth straightened, her BQ would have plummeted.
As legendary photographer Cecil Beaton once wrote about the dancer Irene Castle: "Like many works of art, it was not symmetry that made Mrs. Castle so alluring; she, too, proved that real beauty can often be irregular, and she created a dominant and striking personality from assets which any other woman at the time might well have regarded as liabilities."
With that description, Beaton perfectly described a woman with an exceptional BQ.
Let's take a look at some of the beauties of the 20th and 21st centuries, "deconstructing" their features to figure out what made their BQ so high. What you'll soon come to see is not only which of their features "work," but also how their style and attitude suffused every aspect of their appearance. As Diane Keaton once said in an interview, "You have to work with your flaws. You enhance them or hide them!"
FABLED, FAMOUS BEAUTIES
The original It Girl, Clara Bow became, for a short time at least, the epitome of flapper chic in the 1920s. But her face is fabled more for its artifice than for its proportions.
Her eyes are large but her eyelids are heavy, leading to some serious drooping once the first blush of youth wears off.
Her eyebrows had been shaved off and redrawn with a thick black pencil too dramatic for the small shape of her face.
Her cheekbones are not defined.
Her nose is wide, with a bulbous tip.
Her chin is slightly receding.
Her lips are her claim to fame-their "bee-stung" cupid's shape that was oh-so-desirable.
Long before lip fillers were invented, Clara Bow had one powerful pucker-and it was all hers. Accentuating her lips with dark lipstick would show clearly in the film stock of the silent films, and made them even more prominent and kissable.
Basically, Clara was a cute girl-not a gorgeous woman. But she knew how to transform herself from sweet to sultry by taking one feature and turning it into her claim to fame. It also didn't hurt that she had a come-hither sexuality, giving a hint of what the girl next door was really like when the lights went out.
Clara Bow's cute sexiness didn't age well though, and a few scant years after the heyday of flapper chic, she was all but forgotten. It's a cautionary tale for anyone who relies too heavily on only one aspect of the BQ to increase her appeal. You need to treat the whole package!
Katharine Hepburn had what was considered a "masculine" look and wore pants at a time when most women didn't dream of slipping them on.
Her forehead is large and square.
Her eyes are far apart and small, with low eyebrows.
Her cheekbones are so pronounced that her face becomes extremely angular.
Her lips are thin.
Yet this Hepburn was full of vigor, didn't mind being seen doing all kinds of sports, and was famous for her cold showers, salty humor, long walks, unconventional relationships, and a vivid zest for life. Her confidence in herself and her appearance gave her a very high BQ.
Ingrid Bergman went from being one of the most popular movie stars in the world to persona non grata in Hollywood when she left her husband to have an affair with a married film director, Roberto Rossellini, and bore his children. I think she was at her absolute most radiant when she fell in love with Rossellini. She just blossomed.
Ingrid always had an unusual beauty.
Her face is very round, which is particularly notable as many actresses of her generation tended to have more sculpted faces.
Her eyes are small, fairly close together, and heavy-lidded, becoming very crepey (crinkled and paperlike) as she grew older.
Her nose has an unusual shape, with large nostrils.
Her lower lip is much heavier than her upper lip, giving her a distinct pout.
Her teeth are crooked.
Part of her high BQ comes from her unique ability to be both sexual and vulnerable, which is what has made the movie Casablanca such an enduring classic. She also displayed a stunningly high BQ in the film Indiscreet, made in 1958, when she was 43. In this romantic comedy, she played an actress opposite longtime friend Cary Grant, and her self-deprecating wit coupled with some of the most beautiful and figure-enhancing costumes ever created for her to wear on-screen were breathtaking. Watch it if you want to see what a "middle-aged" woman is capable of showing the world!
Audrey Hepburn's is one of my favorite faces of all time. I just cannot take my eyes off her. Yet when you deconstruct her face, you can see that her features, individually, are not always what you'd consider attractive.
She has great bone structure, but her eyes are close together.
Her eyebrows are enormous; very thick for the delicate proportions of the rest of her face.
Her nose is slim but long.
Her upper lip is small in proportion to her lower lip.
Her lips are quite large in comparison to the size of her chin, which is small.
She has a long, slender neck.
Her body is extremely slim, verging on the way-too-skinny, and rather shapeless.
But somehow, when all placed together, these features made Audrey incandescently lovely, with a super-high BQ. She aged amazingly well. Had she lived longer, no doubt she would have remained one of the world's loveliest women.
Love her or loathe her, Twiggy revolutionized fashion. She took some things that were huge deficits by the standards of beauty in the mid-1960s-a naturally super-skinny, bony, flat-chested body and knobby-kneed legs-and tweaked them to become one of history's more iconic women.
Her forehead is high.
She has beautiful big eyes that she soon learned to emphasize with deliberately large, fake eyelashes.
She has a slim, nice nose.
She has bony cheeks, because she had no fat on her face-they just stuck out!
Her lips are a very unusual shape.
She has a fairly small chin.
When Twiggy's hair was famously cut by Vidal Sassoon, her BQ went crazy. She found her look-and what a look it was. Compare Twiggy's androgynous, geometric look with the more curvy, flowing styles that had preceded her, and there was just no turning back. She became the definitive marker between old and mod.
Bette Midler is a supremely gifted singer/actress, but her looks are far from what is considered classic. In fact, there's a French phrase to describe her iconic beauty: jolie laide literally means "pretty/ugly." However, due to her delicious personality, she positively radiates a fabulously sassy attitude as well as congeniality, which up her BQ remarkably. And as soon as she opens her mouth to sing, I just melt!
Her forehead is unusually high and her face shape quite oval, so her cheekbones lack definition.
Her hair can be a mess of frizz.
Her eyes are hooded and small.
Her nose is, well, distinctive.
Her lips are large and saucy.
Her chin is slightly receding.
Talk about aging well. Tina Turner looked better when her comeback hit "What's Love Got to Do with It" went global in 1984 than she did as a star in 1960s. At the time, she was the oldest singer (age 45) in history to have a number-one hit, and boy, did her BQ go through the roof along with her record sales!
Tina was never considered a great beauty, but I'd call her stunning. Plus she's always had indefatigable energy, charisma, and the best legs in the business-she's the whole package.
When she was younger, she wore hairstyles and heavy makeup that emphasized her already long and narrow face shape.
Her eyes are piercing but small.
Her nose is wide.
Her chin is too small for the overall proportion of her face.
Which just goes to show that anyone can reinvent herself, no matter her age. There's nothing like a shot of confidence to improve your BQ!
Okay, I must confess that Kate Moss is not my cup of tea, but obviously lots of people disagree with me as she's become one of the most successful models of all time. Kate's beauty is definitely not classic.
She has a large forehead.
Her eyes are small and set far apart.
She has a small nose.
She has prominent, bony cheeks.
Her mouth has a funny sort of pucker.
She has crummy teeth.
Still, I must also admit that Kate does have one of those super-idiosyncratic faces, and she has deftly parlayed her flaws into a career of fame and fortune.
Named as one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World in 1997, after her role as a James Bond girl in Tomorrow Never Dies, Michelle Yeoh truly came into her beauty when she starred in the Academy Award-winning film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in 2000 at the age of 38. I think this feat was even more remarkable, as her female costar in that film was the lovely and much younger Ziyi Zhang. But I felt that Michelle's mature beauty was much sexier and subtle.
Her face is round.
Her eyes are large, extremely expressive, and almond-shaped with very little eyelid, as is typical for Asian women.
Her nose is fairly wide, but it fits her face.
Her mouth is not exceptional.
She has a long, elegant neck.
Michelle has great sex appeal, which I believe is due in part to the self-confidence she has earned after her many years of determined training in martial arts. I think she's a knockout.
Once you see how these women enhanced their uniqueness, enabling their BQ to score into the stratosphere, you'll be better able to deconstruct other faces and personalities, including your own, so you can assess your strengths, as well as your weaknesses. In Part III, I'll show you how to use their techniques to enhance your own BQ-and you'll soon be convinced that recognizing and accentuating your positives are as important as improving your negatives.
Excerpted from THE BEAUTY QUOTIENT FORMULA by ROBERT M. TORNAMBE Copyright © 2010 by Robert M. Tornambe. Excerpted by permission.
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