Beauty and Symmetry
The characterization of beauty in our culture is multifaceted. It can be based on the concept of inner beauty, but more commonly it is based on the physical attributes that have been canonized as the paradigms of beauty since the beginning of time. Cultural influences lace that concept, as do societal norms. Perhaps no influence is as strong as the infusion that fashion and popular culture contributes into this game of beauty.
As variables and denominators change, one aspect remains as an accepted constant and that is symmetry. Symmetry is defined as regularity of form and excellence in proportion. It is the physical entity that coveys reciprocal linearity and properness. Symmetry is beauty and beauty is symmetry.
In classic architecture the simple mathematical symmetry of the Doric order, the slender fluted inspiration of the Ionic design and the ornate organized chaos of the Corinthian style are all imbued with symmetry and structure. Acropolis and the Temple of Nike are infused with symmetrical beauty. The idealized landscape of a Japanese Garden is the demonstration of harmony of symmetry, and the balance that it brings out. The “wow’ of a palindromic symmetry is mesmerizing. The helical elegance of a DNA strand and its unbending detailed attention to ratios, angles and sequences is the genesis of the life of symmetry on Earth.
The beauty of the face and body is very much a result of the perceived symmetry of parts and proportions. The spectacular beauty of an icon such as Angelina Jolie is a study of inspiration in symmetry and beauty. The perfect division of her face into thirds and the Phi inspired distribution of the relationship of her features are important reasons behind her regal beauty.
As plastic surgeons our quest for beauty is in part a quest for symmetry. It is often illusive and labored, but a constant in our efforts to enliven and invigorate it for the face, eyes, brows, nose, ears, breasts, and lower body. Symmetry that is physiologic is a part of ones feature and cannot be fought with. Features that are pathologically asymmetric need heroic measures and challenge the core of what we do as plastic surgeons.