Let me start by being clear that feminine beauty is not the only type of beauty. Dramatics, Naturals, and Gamines all embody beauty that isn't traditionally feminine, but is powerful nonetheless. And Classics are beautiful with a femininity that is subtle and restrained.
Before continuing, I should also let you know that right after this paragraph is a picture of a sculpture of a naked woman. Art, as far as I'm concerned, but probably NSFW for some people.
Pause, pause, pause...
OK, let's dive in. :-)
Feminine Visual Beauty
When we look at another human, we perceive their physical characteristics and make a judgment about their gender almost instantaneously.
This is usually an unconscious process. When it's not unconscious and not immediate, it surprises us -- hence our fascination with androgynous people.
But we humans are exquisitely sensitive to them.
Which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: if an animal can't easily tell who's a potential mate, that animal might not pass on her genes.
For example, because narrow-seeming eyes are more characteristic of men than of women, they characterize the masculine (or "yang") style identities.
Because narrow chins are more characteristic of women than of men, they characterize the feminine (or "yin") style identities.
And so on.
The curving line.
But the type of curving line depends on the style identity. More on that soon.
Categorizing the visual feminine: Romantic is not the only type of feminine beauty.
Romantic does seem to be the variety of feminine beauty that men mainly notice -- which might explain why it's the only kind of visual feminine in some systems created by men.
Romantic, Ingenue, and Ethereal.
A woman without any amount of any of these would appear as a man, or completely androgynous.
But which is it?
- The Ingenue visually signals youthfulness and innocence. She looks natural with a sincere, full smile. You might instinctively describe her as girlish and pretty.
- The Romantic visually signals confidence, maturity, and sensuality. Though she's no more or less sexual than any other human, her resting face tends to read as a "come-hither" expression. You wouldn't hesitate to apply the word "sexy" to her.
- The Ethereal visually signals wisdom and detachment from the physical world. She looks like herself when she's gazing at a far-off point or smiling knowingly. You might think of her as beautiful, or just unusual-looking; she doesn't read as youthful or overtly sexy.
If it has occurred to you that these three types of visual femininity sound an awful lot like the faces of the Threefold Goddess -- Maiden, Mother, and Crone -- then all I can say is, great minds think alike.
My next posts will be more detailed individual explorations of Romantics, Ingenues, and Ethereals, in that order.
I know many of you are like
A fun way to gauge your relative amounts of masculine beauty (Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine) and feminine beauty (Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal) is to determine whether you'd be convincing in drag.
If you're a woman, could you pass as a man? If you're a man, could you pass as a woman?
Liev Schreiber, not so much. I'm thinking he's mostly Natural with some Classic and Gamine.