(Seriously though, I might be the only person alive who prefers long and dry over short and grabby. I am wholly a nerd.)
At any rate, here's what I mean: In my Style Identity system, when I say that a physical characteristic reads as womanly, or manly, or mature, or childlike, that's generally because that (average) physical difference exists in real life.
We are all unconsciously aware of the visual signifiers of masculinity and femininity, of maturity and youth. We make instantaneous judgments about other people's age and masculinity/femininity based on visual cues we're not even aware that we are processing.
Here are some examples of what I mean.
- The distance between the upper lip and the nose lengthens as we age. Additionally, this distance is greater in men than in women. So a short distance here, especially accompanied with quite visible top teeth, tends to create a youthful and feminine -- in other words, an Ingenue-- impression.
- Lip fullness peaks in adolescence, and women's lips are on average fuller than men's. Plumper or puffier lips tend to read Romantic, because Romantic embodies the fully mature, "pubertal" (I love that word!) feminine essence. Thinner lips, by contrast, tend to read as Natural.
- Men's foreheads, on average, appear shorter than women's (because they are less vertical, and because men on average have lower hairlines than women). So short foreheads tend to read as Natural.
- Chin clefts are more common in men than in women. The presence of a chin cleft can increase the overall Natural or Gamine impression of a face.
- Men tend to have wider noses than women, so a wide nose tends to read as Natural or Gamine, while a narrow nose tends to read as Romantic or Ingenue.
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You may notice that I didn't mention Ethereal, Dramatic, or Classic in this article.
Classics are easy: Imagine that you averaged all male features and all female features. Beauty in a female Classic represents a face that's slightly to the feminine side of that perfect average, and beauty in a male Classic represents a point that's slight to the male side. In Classic men and women both, nothing's noticeably big, or small, or sharp, or round, or high, or low, or full, or thin, or wide, or narrow. See more about that beauty here.
As for Ethereals and Dramatics, their beauty derives from archetypes that aren't based in human physical reality. That's a long post, though, so I'll save it for next week. :-)