Facing Asymmetry Head On

By Bill Kray

How to balance an asymmetrical face.

A crooked smile; a slanted hairline; a lowered ear. Although everyone exhibits some degree of facial asymmetry, perceptible balance is associated with perfection and beauty. Our eyes adapt to our own asymmetry, which is a reason why we may not be flattered by our image when photographed or drawn.

Demonstrative facial asymmetry

Demonstrative facial asymmetry

Bilateral symmetry helps us to determine the distance of sounds. If a noise originates from your left, it reaches your left ear milliseconds before it reaches your right. Our brains sense this time difference and calculates how far left of center the object must be. Humans can detect a time difference of less than 10 millionths of a second (0.00001 sec). Yet, asymmetrics adapt and hear fine. In fact the complete loss of one sense heightens others so we can continue to function.

Good, Bad, or Ugly

Have you ever heard of actors requesting to be photographed on their "good side?" Bilateral facial features are not identical. Yet, there are many celebrities with quite pronounced asymmetry like Ashley Greene, Ryan Goslin, Jennifer Hudson, Michela Conlin, and Shannon Doherty. How do they manage to fly under the radar, so to speak, when they are targets of cinematographers and paparazzi?

Barring Photoshop retouching, there are some tricks to minimize the appearance of asymmetry. For example, if one eye is slightly elevated, don't just cover one with your thumb; cosmetics can be used to adjust the offset. More significant deviations can be hidden with asymmetrical bangs to cover an eye. Constantly changing facial expressions by smiling, raising an eyebrow, and tilting your head makes it difficult for viewers to establish visual alignment. Men with an asymmetrical jawline like James McAvoy might grow a beard. More severe methods involve cosmetic surgery. For additional examples of celebrity asymmetrics, visit MY asymmetry board on Pinterest.