The Best Quotes from ‘Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty’

Everyone knows looks are important, but if you’ve never read Nancy Etcoff’s Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, then you probably don’t know just how important.

Kathy Davis, a professor at the University of Utrecht, watched as more than fifty people tried to persuade surgeons in the Netherlands to alter their appearance. Except for a man with a “cauliflower nose,” she was unable to anticipate which feature they wanted to alter just by looking at them. — P.5

We are always sizing up other people’s looks: Our beauty detections never close up shop and call it a day. We notice the attractiveness of each face we see as automatically as we register whether or not they look familiar. Beauty detectors can scan the environment like radar: we can see a face for a fraction of a second (150 msec. in one psychology experiment) and rate its beauty, even give it the same rating we would give it on longer inspection. — P.7

In 1957, Brigitte Bardot was twenty-three years old and had starred in the film And God Created Woman. That year, the magazine Cinemonde reported that a million lines had been devoted to her in the French dailies, and two million in the weeklies, and that this torrent of words was accompanied by 29,345 images of her. Cinemonde even reported that she was the subject of forty-seven percent of French conversation. — P.9