by Daniel Gurpide
In 1920, Knight Dunlap, President of the American Psychological Association, published “Personal Beauty and Racial Betterment. “
Dunlap’s thesis is that what is called personal beauty really inspires the emotional appreciation of the many qualities that make an individual a fit and healthy parent for a fit and healthy next generation of one’s race.
Beauty is a measure of racial fitness for the future. Men and women long for it in their mates, even if they do not understand the nature or significance of that longing. The desire for a beautiful mate is an ineradicable, primordial urge. It is an instinctive part of us. It guides us on our recently interrupted upward journey to higher intelligence, greater strength and power—and increased consciousness and wisdom.
Dunlap asserts that the preservation of beauty is inseparable from the preservation of all civilised values and progress. To lose one is to lose the other. Further, Dunlap warns that our civilisation is fostering increased human ugliness and a withering of human beauty so drastic that only radical and strenuous change may suffice to reverse the process.
What is personal beauty? Dunlap says that it varies distinctly from race to race, ‘but the type which is highest in value tends to approximate the European type, wherever the European type becomes known.’
What is personal beauty for Europeans? There are a great many markers of beauty applying to both sexes. In some cases, these are also marks of an ‘advanced’ race, from a phylogenetic point of view: characteristics which signify the greatest possible difference from more primitive forms.
Considering the profile of the face, one may note the facial angle: the angle, relative to the horizon when a man is standing normally, of a line drawn from the greatest protuberance of the jaw to the most prominent part of the forehead. The average facial angle of the European race is the closest to vertical of any human race. Non-human creatures have lower and lower facial angles as we make our way from the more advanced to the more primitive. Less advanced and smaller-brained creatures (and races) have a lower, more sloping forehead (and hence less capacity in the frontal regions of the brain). More primitive creatures and races also tend to have larger teeth, and larger jaws which jut forward, hence making the facial angle ever closer to the horizontal.
A man or woman with a high or ‘noble’ forehead is better looking to us than one with a steeply sloping forehead. The latter we instinctively view as primitive and ugly, whether we use those words or not. The protruding jaw or the underdeveloped chin and outsized nose give—to European eyes—the human profile a convex and snout-like appearance. Hence, they are bars to beauty, as Europeans perceive it. We may not be conscious of the reason, but our instincts are telling us that the highly evolved is beautiful and the primitive looking is not.
The cast of expression of the human face may be the most important single factor in personal beauty. Even in classical sculpture, where the ideal of European beauty is literally carved in stone, and the entire nude form is revealed, it is still the sublimely high and spiritual expression of the face which arrests our attention more than any other single quality.
The face is the site of the most complex muscle structure anywhere in the body—with a complex nerve structure to match—hence giving our faces an extremely wide and subtle variation of expression. With the dependence of these many muscles on the structure, health, and current state of the nerves, it is unsurprising that much may be learned of the temperament, state of health, and intelligence of a man or woman by studying his or her face. The face and, to a lesser extent, the other parts of the body, offer a constant and multifaceted reflection of the brain and nervous system within.
Clearly, we find our instinctive ideals of beauty—not only as expressed in our sexual selection, but also in our art when uncorrupted and free—in these respects far outstrip reality. Very few embody all such ideals anywhere close to perfection. However, they are our ideals, and insofar as these ideals are favoured in our selection of who will be the mothers and fathers of generations to come, they will indeed offer a glimpse of unborn generations: a glimpse of what will be; a glimpse of the future.