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Hansen: Is the idea of beauty a grasp at the past?

July 05, 2012|By David Hansen

We never fall in love with ugliness.

It's beauty; it's always been beauty. Whether elegant lines or seductive shapes, beauty attracts us.

And for most people, that attraction is based on the past. We want to look younger. We want to be younger. We want to reflect the age that we feel inside.

Which is why there is plastic surgery.

Dr. Bruce Connell is a world-renowned, 84-year-old "retired" plastic surgeon and Laguna Beach resident. He is regarded as the father of the modern face-lift. Over the years, he has trained or influenced thousands of other plastic surgeons. Called "Connell Fellows," they continue to practice his techniques around the world.

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What Connell teaches, among other things, is that people just want to look natural.

"Usually what they want is to have a restoration of the good looks they had 15 years before or so," he said. "That makes most people happy."

People just want to fit in and look refreshed.

"There's been a fortunate big change for people to have a natural look," he said. "And it's considered very objectionable now to have a nose that's been bobbed or have face-lift surgery that looks like they've been caught in a permanent wind tunnel and can't get out of it."

Beauty is no longer perfect. In fact, according to Connell, it never has been. While the definition of beauty has been debated for thousands of years, there are basic rules. There is geometry and proportion.

"There are many parameters that are variable," he said. "If you look at any person, male or female, there will always be one eye larger than the other, one side of the face larger than the other. If you wreck those natural asymmetries, it just doesn't look good."

Like viewing a painting or photograph, there are normal ways that the eyes see things.

"When you get the proportions that have been described years ago by the art of da Vinci — that if you have equal thirds — it is more pleasing to the eye than any other combination," he said.

However, "equal" is not exact, nor is it the final word. It's just the foundation.

"Then you get into variations, like a man may look feminized if his nose is made too pretty, too straight, or have no irregularities," he said. "Also, when you're changing the location of the brow … you can take some of the actors like Brad Pitt and others, they have practically no pretarsal skin (eyelid) showing, and they have no problem getting a date on Friday night."

What ends up being beautiful is not in the eye of the beholder, but it's pretty close.

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