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Beauty is as beauty does?

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Aging beauty before.pngNo longer aging beauty after.pngI have spent quite a few minutes clicking on the before and after shots of these photo-shopped images. The researchers are proposing a numbering system to indicate how much images have been altered which would be a useful reminder to viewers that no one really looks like this, but what caught my attention was the specific choices made by the photo-shopper. You can see it very clearly in the example of this aging beauty. Her face has been smoothed out. Her chin has been made crisper and more pointed, her wrinkles are gone, and her complexion cleared up. The whole image is bathed in a bright golden light.

What struck me was how the choices were so consistent with evolutionary research on what we find "beautiful." Clear skin, average features, a lack of wrinkles, a pointed chin--all signal health and fertility.

Check out the other before and afters on the page; the same choices are made again and again. Even a child's face is smoothed out and clarified to a gleam to increase attractiveness.

Gasping at beauty

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This morning my brother sent me this photo of a place in northern Minnesota that is dear to both of us; its beauty was such that I gasped out loud when I saw it. Later in the day I thought of that involuntary gasp at beauty when I came across this article from Scientific American on "the neuroscience of beauty"

"the aesthetic system of the brain evolved first for the appraisal of objects of biological importance, including food sources and suitable mates, and was later co-opted for artworks such as paintings and music.."

So my anterior insula lets me know when something is tasty/yummy or nasty/vile, not only with edibles such as apples but also with intangibles such as art and music. I find that fascinating.

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