Saturday, May 26, 2007

How do faces get shaped?

Walking around in another country it is hard not to notice that faces have different shapes than I am used to. Nor is it just genetics. The American face is distinct -- loose, happy, and flabby -- but the country is quite recent and clearly there is no unique American race. (How long did it take for this face to arise?)

Peer effects, as passed down from older generations, are the obvious mechanism for how these faces get shaped. So sometimes when I walk around in other countries I see, in my mind's eye, the older people pulling on the faces of the younger. All over the street, I see face-pulling cosmic rays emanating from eyes of the older brothers, yanking and tugging on the skin of the younger brothers.

Does it ever hurt? How many other body parts get shaped this way?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have wondered about this as well. There seems to be a Quebecois set of features as one of the more distinctive. Eastern Europe also seems to have dome distinctive facial features that do not seem to align with genetic lineages.

One of the other characteristics that has been suggested as being culturally defined is posture. I wonder if accents might also be considered a similar thing?

Dave said...

"Peer effects, as passed down from older generations, are the obvious mechanism for how these faces get shaped."

“Does it ever hurt? How many other body parts get shaped this way?”

You're not talking about Lamarckian evolution are you? Because I wouldn't have thought that Darwinian evolution couldn’t shape and mould faces in such a short time; and as far as I am aware Darwinian evolution is the only accepted theory nowadays?

That still begs the question, what shapes faces? I would think perhaps people diet and the types of exercises that are more prevalent in different cultures….

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Melissaxlkg said...

I have wondered about this as well. There seems to be a Quebecois set of features as one of the more distinctive. Eastern Europe also seems to have dome distinctive facial features that do not seem to align with genetic lineages. One of the other characteristics that has been suggested as being culturally defined is posture. I wonder if accents might also be considered a similar thing?