The Biggest Facial-Symmetry Myth, Debunked

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embeddedPhotographed by Meredith Jenks.
Science has a message for those of you who ever felt imperfect because of that birthmark on your cheek or that one shorter eyebrow: relax. Long have we been told that facial symmetry reflects superior genetic makeup and that, because of this, we find people with perfectly balanced faces more attractive than those without. On a purely evolutionary level, we should want to pick a healthy person for our mate, right? And, if what we're attracted to is symmetry, that should be what's healthier, right? Apparently not, according to a recent study in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, which found no link between health and facial symmetry.

It's true that extreme asymmetry in the face can imply a genetic disorder, but the effects of such conditions have become less visible as modern medicine has progressed. In a non-modern world, when long-lasting ailments were more difficult to curb, pursuing a partner with a symmetrical face was a much safer bet for making sure your children grew up healthy. But, preventative measures and even cures have made it difficult to discern a person's genetic construction just by looking at his or her face. So, nowadays, there's no reason to exclude asymmetrical faces from your dating pool for the benefit of your imaginary-future kids. Worst-case scenario? The study found that people born with asymmetrical faces today might be more prone to scratchy throats. Shudder.

Hopefully, this news takes some of the pressure off — that is, if anybody was actually weeding out asymmetrical faces from their list of prospective partners. We don't know about you, but we've always loved a cute, crooked smile.