Look out Samantha Brick: A nationwide “natural beauty” contest in England has crowned blond-haired, blue-eyed 18-year old Florence Colgate “the most naturally beautiful woman in the country.” Ugh. There’s already something perverse in the fetishization of natural beauty; it’s especially weird and misguided to celebrate natural beauty by honoring the lass who looks as close as possible to Barbie without surgery.
Obviously, Colgate is a very pretty girl (almost absurdly conventionally pretty, in that January Jones kind of way). But basically everything about the natural beauty contest and this Kent Online article about it are obnoxious. Briana and I had to double-check and make sure it wasn’t the UK’s version of The Onion, because everything about the article—from the title (“Student Florence Colgate fits the scientific formula for beauty”) to Colgate’s earnestly articulated beauty secrets—screams satire. But it’s real—the article and the contest, sponsored by British lifestyle show Lorraine. And according to Kent Online, more than 8,000 people entered to be crowned the most naturally beautiful woman in the UK; Colgate won the title after reaching the competition’s final three and winning the public vote.
The Kent Online article speculates that the reason she won is because she has the most scientifically beautiful face.
According to extensive studies of ‘attractiveness’, researchers believe the ‘beauty’ of a woman’s face can be summed up in a series of simple ratios.
The ‘perfect’ face has a distance between the pupils of just under half, or 46 per cent, of the width of the whole face from ear to ear – pretty Florence’s ratio is 44 per cent.
Scientists believe the distance between eyes and mouth should be a third of the overall length from hairline to chin on the perfect face – Florence’s face has 32.8 per cent ratio.
Many studies have shown links between certain facial characteristics (like symmetry) and how attractive someone is rated; between presidential candidates or jobseekers or dating profiles and the way appearance influences perception. But let’s not kid ourselves that there’s some elaborate scientific reasoning needed to explain why “pretty Florence” Colgate was chosen. She is young, thin, pale-skinned, blond-haired and rosy-cheeked. In other words, she looks exactly like we’re told a beautiful young Western woman should.
In terms of celebrating natural beauty—which, to me, describes more than just “going make-up free” or not getting lip filler and chin implants; suggests that women comfortable and confident in their own bodies, no matter how closely they hew to Hollywood beauty standards, can be beautiful—the Lorraine contest is a pretty obvious fail.