There is No Such Thing as a ‘Most Beautiful Person According To Science’

This claim is unwittingly part of an agenda to position Whiteness as the beauty standard

Dr. Furaha Asani

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In early February 2020, various news outlets reported that the actor Robert Pattinson is the most beautiful man in the world ‘according to science/scientists’. This claim was brought forward by facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Julian De Silva, who used the “ Greek Golden Ratio of Beauty Phi” to crown Pattinson’s facial features most beautiful/handsome.

Dr. De Silva’s calculations have led to various White people being given the title of ‘most beautiful’ on more than one occasion: in 2016 Yahoo Style crowned Amber Heard the top in a list of 10 White women, with many other platforms echoing this list.

Both in 2016 and 2020, these lists were presented as ‘scientific’ findings. This has had the two-fold effect of positioning Whiteness as the beauty standard (although the 2020 list for men snuck in Idris Elba and Kanye West as numbers 8 and 9 respectively), and inadvertently casting all doubters as questioning science. I should know: despite being a Biochemist (with a PhD in Infection and Immunity), calling out these claims in 2017 landed me an accusation as a ‘lib who hates science’ in an article that further stated:

But what the plastic surgeon [Dr. Julian De Silva] forgot is that you must include someone of color, whether they achieved it or not, because if you don’t you are a racist.

What is fundamentally lacking in this discourse is any question as to the scientific nature of these ‘most beautiful/handsome’ claims. For years, these ‘most beautiful’ lists have been presented with no context and keep being circulated by those who choose to close their critical eye or who indeed hold Whiteness as the beauty standard (whilst apparently simultaneously devaluing any BIPoC beauty).

In order to investigate whether there can indeed be a ‘most beautiful person in the world according to science’, one has to look at the components of the basic framework for scientific enquiry, known as ‘the scientific method’, and map the entirety of a particular project’s methodology and results onto this framework.

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Dr. Furaha Asani

Migrant. Postdoctoral researcher. Teacher. Mental Health Advocate. Writer. Professional in the streets, loud on the sheets of paper.