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The New York Times last week reported on a new “beautification engine,” a “computer program that uses a mathematical formula to alter the original form into a theoretically more attractive version.” The program runs on the idea that a common standard of beauty can be predicted across cultures, based on international surveys and the ratios of flower pedals or something. The NYT ran the above woman, Martina Eckstut, through the program to see how it would tweak her less-than-perfect features: The computer raised Eckstut’s forehead, shrunk her nose, rounded her face, and came out with a new, prettier Martina.
That’s the idea, anyway. But is the more symmetrical, standardized photo actually more attractive than the original? Local dude blogger Roissy in D.C. seems to think so. “If you are honest in your assessment and not trying to score dorm room debate points on your not-so-humble narrator, then I predict 95% of my readers, male and female, will agree that the girl on the right is more attractive.”
Count me in the five percent. Both women, I think, are undeniably beautiful. At the risk of racking up whatever “dorm room debate points” are, I’d say the human pretty face also connotes character, experience, and individuality, while the computer pretty face connotes promotional materials for the CW. Sure, computer android Eckstut’s a pretty girl, but she’s a bit of a bore.
When presented with her new look, Eckstut, 25, politely complimented the computer-generated image before declining the extreme makeover. “I would like to keep my original face,” she wrote.
The NYT also ran some celebrity faces through the pretty machine, ostensibly to provide guidelines for future plastic surgery. Brigitte Bardot looks like she was hit with the boring stick. Michael Cera‘sdarling face, when “prettified,” may produce tween girl nightmares. Only the inimitable James Franco survives unscathed: “The before and after shots of the actor James Franco were almost indistinguishable,” notes NYT, “suggesting his classically handsome face is already pretty perfect.”