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Universal Attractiveness and the Meaning of Our Chins

Universal Attractiveness and the Meaning of Our Chins
Photograph by Getty Images

The judgment is built into the descriptors: strong chin or weak chin. Just think of the famed Romney mug. Or Dudley Do-Right, his jaw roughly the size and shape of a Christmas ham. Sure, he was an idiot—that was the joke!—but the chin signaled that he was a good guy, and that he was irresistible.

There are scientists who study attractiveness. Not chemists designing scents for L’Oréal, but biologists and anthropologists who theorize about what attractiveness means. Mostly they look at animals, examining traits like peacock tails and behaviors like bighorn sheep duels or fruit fly courtship dances. But sometimes they look at people, too, and some argue that beneath cultural fads, evolution has ingrained in humans certain inescapable biases about beauty and physical prowess.