Arts: Those Beautiful Women

I was visiting YouTube recently. I wanted to watch a video of a beautiful woman since I am a man and an artist and since I spend a lot of time thinking about what creates beauty.

So I looked up several of the Celtic Woman concerts and the four singers were lovely. Their angelic voices and sparkling eyes and stunning gowns had a multiplier effect; they increased the singers’ feminine sensuality.

Then I called up a Shania Twain video. And as I was watching Ms. Twain, who has been called The Queen of Country Pop, an idea came to me out of nowhere. I declared to myself, “She is the most beautiful woman in the world.”

Here she is. Kaboom. Shania Twain…

She is quite a piece of work, wouldn’t you say?

So I watched another Shania Twain video and another and then I looked up her biography. And lo and behold here is what is reported about her on wikipedia.org:

In 2009, Ms. Twain was rated as having the Perfect Face, by scientists. The study, led by the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Diego, appears in the journal Vision Research. The results suggest her face has a perfect set of geometric measurements, based on the Golden Ratio. 

And I thought to myself, Wow, that I had nailed it, that indeed she is, in effect, the most beautiful woman in the world. Or one of them anyway.

The Golden Ratio is a mathematical/geometric proportion that denotes perfection. The ratio has been historically linked to beauty of every type – artistic, architectural, human. Even the arrangement of leaves on plants is related to the ratio.

For most of my adult life I have, as an artist, pursued pure, essential beauty in my geometric and biomorphic constructions and paintings. They are very discreet individual forms or sets of forms that represent idealized beauty broken down into its elements the way that a great architect recognizes significant individual forms that he then assembles into a building.

This is like the underlying proportional geometry of Shania Twin’s face which represents, in abstract terms, something known as ‘beauty’ even though we may not recognize precisely why that is.

The Ancient Greeks said that “beauty is proportion” which is true. And we could never discuss feminine beauty without considering two legendary Greek sculptors who produced a beauty that is said to be higher and more idealized than any natural beauty.

Here we have Athena Lemnia, a marble fragment probably made by a Greek artist sometime in the 1st century BC. It is a copy of what is believed to have been the head of a full bronze sculpture of the goddess Athena from the Acropolis in Athens made around 440 BC, at the height of the Classical period.

The original was created by Phidias, whom many consider to be the greatest sculptor of all time. Athena Lemnia certainly represents the Greek ideal of feminine beauty. This copy is in the Museo Civico in Bologna, Italy.

Notice that the nose goes straight to the forehead. The Greeks considered this to be the ideal face and it is common in their art, in depictions of both men and women. It is rare in real life, however, but you occasionally will see people with such a facial geometry. When I see it I always take an extra peek because it is so uncommon.

Perhaps the Greeks considered its rarity its value along with the fact that it greatly simplifies the geometry of the face and thus creates an intellectual form of beauty, something as much to discuss as to admire. It is very “noble” as well. And check out those lips…

Below is another Greek sculpture, Hygieia, or Heather, the goddess of health. Hygieia was said to have been the daughter of the healer/doctor Asklepios.

This Hygieia sculpture is mega-famous and utterly timeless. Today you see cheap knockoff copies all over the world. Vacationers purchase them by the thousands when they go to Greece.

This one is the marble original which is in the National Museum in Athens. It is said to possibly have been made by Scopas (395 BC – 350 BC). It also expresses an idealized feminine beauty. Again notice the nose structure.

Thinking about beauty I retrieved a photograph from my portfolio that I took in 1972 of a college classmate at a concert. I always have treasured it because she was very attractive. It is here:

I took this picture one-off, not a whole roll of film or anything like that. I printed it on a rough canvas-type of photo paper with a brown tint. At some point over the years I trimmed the picture to match the curve of her hair.

This photo was taken in difficult circumstances – very low light in a concert audience, and just one click. But still it is as perfect as a portrait can be. Because even the low light played into the enigmatic authority of the image. I couldn’t have set up such a shot on purpose in a million years. It just happened, just as natural beauty cannot be manufactured or coerced.

Is she “beautiful”?

Well, she is very attractive but certainly not as “beautiful” as Shania Twain is.

So where did our concept of beauty come from in the first place?

From nature, of course. Since man did not have great art or great architecture to look at for much of his early existence or in very remote places he certainly developed his/her sense of beauty from the environment. And that environment always included… people.

And certain of those people were very beautiful. We all know how this goes. Even in a remote village thousands of years ago there was that one woman in the village whom all the men knew as particularly beautiful. They talked about her and wanted her and fantasized about her. Because they too wanted beauty in their lives, to elevate their senses, a process in which endorphins in the brain are excited by the sight of “beauty”, making us literally feel good.

Her beauty was such that some of the men in the village would be tongue-tied just talking to her. Because her beauty put her on a higher plane since genuine beauty is a fact, not an opinion. Just ask those scientists who measured Shania Twain’s face.

That is why the beautiful girls in high school had a different attitude than the others. Because they were treated differently by both men and women, by students and teachers. Beautiful people have a much easier time in life than everyone else because they are, simply put, different from everyone else.

And often there was that one girl in high school – the Shania Twain – who stood out. Guys still think about her decades later even if she was never famous or rich, even if she has died. That is how powerful beauty is. It is eternal.

There were no criteria by which you could judge her, however, like a check list.  Her facial geometry just set off natural reactions in the brain. Nature (the mathematical beauty of her face) triggered nature (the pleasant reaction in the brain).

And the man who ends up as the husband of the beautiful woman often is just like her. He has a Perfect Face, or close to it, according to geometry. Because beauty attracts beauty like wealth attracts wealth and power attracts power.

The architect Frank Lloyd Wright said that “beauty is in itself the highest and finest kind of morality”. And many would say that beauty is not only moral, but tangibly valuable, one of the highest natural assets in our worldly existence because anyone can have it, a select few do and we all want it. That is how the humble but beautiful office girl ends up married to the corporate chief – because her beauty is so valuable to him. Beauty cuts across all social, political and economic lines.

There even was a recent case in Iowa in which a dental hygienist was fired from her job because she was considered so irresistibly beautiful that her boss’s wife was concerned about her presence in the office.

Rest assured she’ll get another job…

Would Shania Twain have succeeded if she were not so darned good looking?

It’s hard to say. But her face surely helped. It always does.

That is why great artists and architects and designers have always been revered – because they create beauty out of thin air. They are like alchemists making gold out of lead.

Shania Twain surely must be happy that not only has she sold tens of millions of records, that she is wealthy in her own right and now is married to a wealthy man after her childhood in poverty, and that she is adored by millions, but that she has the added benefit of a flat-out, world-conquering mug.

Imagine that – not only do your fans think you are beautiful but a bunch of scientists with their micrometers and pocket calculators determines that you are technically, by the numbers, indisputably more beautiful than any other woman.

Ms. Twain’s body is beautiful too. She has a very elegant form, not too fat, not too skinny, full in all the right places. It is the kind of body that attracts the eye. It too is geometrically idealized based on the Golden Ratio.

And when Shania Twain sings she wears certain outfits that flatter her body and make her The Total Package from head to toe. Men love to look at that and at all of her hair styles which are carefully controlled, which give her a certain overall form. Ms. Twain is a classic “idol” up on stage. You can look up her performance videos on YouTube.

Many of her fans are women who look adoringly – and enviously – on her total perfection. Because women crave beauty just like men. In fact I long have theorized that women love football not for the game itself but because they are transfixed by the handsome players and their manly, idealized chests and arms and thighs and butts stuffed into those tight spandex outfits, that these women are, in essence, mesmerized by the perfection of the human forms on the playing field and on the TV screen.

Meanwhile many of those same scientists who determined that Shania Twain has the Perfect Face determined that the Hollywood celebrity Angelina Jolie does not make the cut, not by a long shot, that her face is geometrically far inferior to Ms. Twain’s. And if you look you will see that that is true. Here is Jolie:

Sorry, Angie, but you are no Shania Twain.

Because there is something about genuine beauty that is separate from “pretty” or “attractive” or “sexy” or “good looking” or “gorgeous”. It is a distinction manifested by irrefutable numbers and once you recognize it you know it for good.

In fact when you hear about a “sexy” or “pretty” or “attractive” lady whom you think has it all but who seems unhappy, one reason could very well be that she knows that there is something higher and deeper and more heavenly – genuine beauty. And she knows that she does not have it but must accept something less.

Look at these Hollywood tarts like Paris Hilton or Jennifer Anniston. Sure, they are “hot” and “sexy” and ”pretty”. But they are lesser lights, even trashy looking compared to the genuine beauty of a Shania Twain. It is like the difference between great art and good art or cheesy art. Most people don’t know or don’t care about the distinction, but to the discerning eye there is something subtle and inexplicable underneath that makes all the difference in the world.

Now here is another photograph I took in 2012 of a young lady singer at an outdoor concert.

I think she is very attractive. She is “sexy” and “gorgeous”.  She has perfect skin, blue eyes. A total babe. Watching her rock around the stage singing a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love was quite the provocation.

The picture itself is not a typical portrait shot. It too was one-off. In fact it was taken from a long distance using a simple point-and-shoot camera so I didn’t think it would amount to much. It is blown way up to produce the portrait; that’s why it is grainy.

The question: Is she really “beautiful”?

Well, sort of but not like Shania Twain. And in her case her haircut is especially suggestive because it compliments her face. I would love to see Shania Twain with such a haircut. I bet she’d be a blockbuster with a haircut like that.

This young lady usually has long hair in her internet videos and pictures. This haircut, done for this concert, made her very attractive. It created a certain form out of her head and face that is much stronger than her face alone, like a force multiplier, like her voice and her guitar and her outfit that all combined make her an appealing idol on stage.

The shape of the haircut puts an additional level of idealization on top of her natural attractiveness. Someone knew what they were doing with that haircut. That is why women are so fussy about their clothes and their hair – because clothes and hair create much of the overall form that the woman projects.

The young singer is wearing a form-fitting leather jacket and the shape of her neckline is smart and evocative. Everything about this picture is exciting; all of the forms converge nicely to create an enticing image.

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