Stephen Marquardt has derived a mask from the golden ratio that he claims represents the “ideal” facial archetype. Many have found his mask convincing, including cosmetic surgeons. However, Marquardt’s mask is associated with numerous problems. The method used to examine goodness of fit with the proportions in the mask is faulty. The mask is ill-suited for non-European populations, especially sub-Saharan Africans and East Asians. The mask also appears to approximate the face shape of masculinized European women. Given that the general public strongly and overwhelmingly prefers above average facial femininity in women, white women seeking aesthetic facial surgery would be ill-advised to aim toward a better fit with Marquardt’s mask. This article aims to show the proper way of assessing goodness of fit with Marquardt’s mask, to address the shape of the mask as it pertains to masculinity-femininity, and to discuss the broader issue of an objective assessment of facial attractiveness.
Generalized Procrustes analysis is used to show how goodness of fit with Marquardt’s mask can be assessed. Thin-plate spline analysis is used to illustrate visually how sample faces, including northwestern European averages, differ from Marquardt’s mask.
Marquardt’s mask best describes the facial proportions of masculinized white women as seen in fashion models.
Marquardt’s mask does not appear to describe “ideal” face shape even for white women because its proportions are inconsistent with the optimal preferences of most people, especially with regard to femininity.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Bashour M (2006) An objective system for measuring facial attractiveness. Plast Reconstr Surg 118:757–774, discussion 775–756
Bookstein FL (1996) Biometrics, biomathematics and the morphometric synthesis. Bull Math Biol 58:313–365
Bookstein FL (1996/1997) Landmark methods for forms without landmarks: Morphometrics of group differences in outline shape. Med Image Anal 1:225–243
Cochrane SM, Cunningham SJ, Hunt NP (1997) Perceptions of facial appearance by orthodontists and the general public. J Clin Orthod 31:164–168
Czarnecki ST, Nanda RS, Currier GF (1993) Perceptions of a balanced facial profile. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 104:180–187
Davis ST (2007) Aesthetic preferences for the unity ratio resist the influence of color illusions. Am J Psychol 120:47–71
De Smit A, Dermaut L (1984) Soft-tissue profile preference. Am J Orthod 86:67–73
Dodd P: How thin is too thin? New survey reveals overwhelming global support for “too thin” fashion models debate. Neilsen Breaking News. Retrieved on 14 March 2007 at http://www2.acnielsen.com/news/20070202.shtml
Dryden IL, Mardia KV (1998) Statistical shape analysis. John Wiley, Chichester
Duchon J (1977) Splines minimizing rotation-invariant seminorms in Sobolev spaces. In: Schempp W, Zeller K (eds) Constructive theory of functions of several variables: Lecture notes in mathematics. Vol 571. Springer, Berlin, pp. 85–100
Hanihara T (2000) Frontal and facial flatness of major human populations. Am J Phys Anthropol 111:105–134
Hennessy RJ, McLearie S, Kinsella A, Waddington JL (2005) Facial surface analysis by 3D laser scanning and geometric morphometrics in relation to sexual dimorphism in cerebral–craniofacial morphogenesis and cognitive function. J Anat 207:283–295
Hutton TJ, Buxton BF, Hammond P, Potts HW (2003) Estimating average growth trajectories in shape–space using kernel smoothing. IEEE Trans Med Imaging 22:747–753
Jefferson Y (2004) Facial beauty: Establishing a universal standard. Int J Orthod Milwaukee 15:9–22
Johnston C, Hunt O, Burden D, Stevenson M, Hepper P (2005) The influence of mandibular prominence on facial attractiveness. Eur J Orthod 27:129–133
Kim YH (2007) Easy facial analysis using the facial golden mask. J Craniofac Surg 18:643–649
Levin EI (1978) Dental esthetics and the golden proportion. J Prosthet Dent 40:244–252
Maple JR, Vig KW, Beck FM, Larsen PE, Shanker S (2005) A comparison of providers’ and consumers’ perceptions of facial-profile attractiveness. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 128:690–696, quiz 801
Marquardt SR (2002) Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt on the Golden Decagon and human facial beauty. Interview by Dr. Gottlieb. J Clin Orthod 36:339–347
Matoula S, Pancherz H (2006) Skeletofacial morphology of attractive and nonattractive faces. Angle Orthod 76:204–210
Michiels G, Sather AH (1994) Determinants of facial attractiveness in a sample of white women. Int J Adult Orthodon Orthognath Surg 9:95–103
Moss JP, Linney AD, Lowey MN (1995) The use of three-dimensional techniques in facial esthetics. Semin Orthod 1:94–104
Mowlavi A, Meldrum DG, Wilhelmi BJ (2003) Implications for nasal recontouring: Nasion position preferences as determined by a survey of white North Americans. Aesthetic Plast Surg 27:438–445
Mowlavi A, Meldrum DG, Wilhelmi BJ, Ghavami A, Zook EG (2003) The aesthetic earlobe: Classification of lobule ptosis on the basis of a survey of North American Caucasians. Plast Reconstr Surg 112:266–272, discussion 273–264
O’Higgins P (2000) The study of morphological variation in the hominid fossil record: biology, landmarks and geometry. J Anat 197:103–120
Orsini MG, Huang GJ, Kiyak HA, Ramsay DS, Bollen AM, Anderson NK, Giddong DB (2006) Methods to evaluate profile preferences for the anteroposterior position of the mandible. Am J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop 130:283–291
Qualtrough AJ, Burke FJ (1994) A look at dental esthetics. Quintessence Int 25:7–14
Rand CS, Wright BA (2000) Continuity and change in the evaluation of ideal and acceptable body sizes across a wide age span. Int J Eat Disord 28:90–100
Rhodes G (2006) The evolutionary psychology of facial beauty. Annu Rev Psychol 57:199–226
Ricketts RM (1982) Divine proportion in facial esthetics. Clin Plast Surg 9:401–422
Rosas A, Bastir M (2002) Thin-plate spline analysis of allometry and sexual dimorphism in the human craniofacial complex. Am J Phys Anthropol 117:236–245
Roseman CC, Weaver TD (2004) Multivariate apportionment of global human craniometric diversity. Am J Phys Anthropol 125:257–263
Rosenstiel SF, Ward DH, Rashid RG (2000) Dentists’ preferences of anterior tooth proportion: A Web-based study. J Prosthodont 9:123–136
Seghers MJ, Longacre JJ, Destefano GA (1964) The golden proportion of beauty. Plast Reconstr Surg 34:382–386
Swami V, Tovee MJ (2007) Perceptions of female body weight and shape among indigenous and urban Europeans. Scand J Psychol 48:43–50
Tovee MJ, Cornelissen PL (2001) Female and male perceptions of female physical attractiveness in front view and profile. Br J Psychol 92(Part 2):391–402
Tovee MJ, Mason SM, Emery JL, McCluskey SE, Cohen-Tovee EM (1997) Supermodels: Stick insects or hourglasses? Lancet 350:1474–1475
Ward DH (2001) Proportional smile design using the recurring aesthetic dental (red) proportion. Dent Clin North Am 45:143–154
About this article
Cite this article
Holland, E. Marquardt’s Phi Mask: Pitfalls of Relying on Fashion Models and the Golden Ratio to Describe a Beautiful Face. Aesth Plast Surg 32, 200–208 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00266-007-9080-z
- Golden ratio
- Phi mask
- Procrustes analysis
- Stephen Marquardt
- Thin-plate splines