Form and Function

Form and Function

The peculiar thing about the human body is what looks good is often what works best.

A lot of this is hard wired into our DNA. All of the more attractive and seductive features about the young female form are really just manifestations of a high estrogen state. In other words men are attracted to the expression of the effects of estrogen which in turn is a reflection of high fertility. Inadvertently, they’re attached to the features in the female form that help propagate the species. This is not something we contemplate. In fact most men are keen to avoid propagating the species as much as possible! But intuitively the things they find attractive and that draw them to women are those very things that express a state of high fertility.

With the male form the situation is even more complex. There are kind of two styles of male “beauty”. The craggy features of the powerfully built lean athletic male are generally a representation of a high testosterone effect. This style of male beauty contrasts markedly with what I call the “boy band” style of male beauty. These generally younger males are less overtly testosterone effected and in many ways can be quite feminine. However undoubtedly they attract a legion of female fans.

It is probably that the high testosterone state is associated with “unpredictable” aspects of male behavior with regards to violence and infidelity and women can, in its purist form, find this high testosterone state and its ramifications too hard to deal with. The boy band look is generally less threatening particularly to younger women who seem to make up the army of their fans. So thus the two forms of male beauty coexist and can appeal to the same women at different times in their lives and different frames of mind.

It seems ironic that plastic surgeons have been trying to create or enhance the manifestations of beauty for a hundred years but we’re only just getting our heads around what beauty really is. I always find the lectures on aesthetics at our conferences the most intriguing as renowned speakers try to shed a little more light on the mechanics of this most basic instinct. Next to hunger and thirst, there is no more powerful drive than that which beauty elicits, and in some it may over-ride the others!

Focusing down on a simple thing like the nose shows another example where form and function coexist. The nicely shaped nose has features about it which are pleasing to the eye. They are also features which reflect a healthy uninjured nose and, more than this, features which help support the nasal airway and optimize breathing. A straight nose not only looks good; it general means the airway is not compromised by a buckled septum (middle wall of the nose) or crooked nasal bones. A nicely shaped tip supports what is known as the external valve of the nose and allows good airflow at the nostrils. A straight bridge line supports the internal valve and again lets air flow past unimpeded.

So generally speaking, when we build a nose that is pleasing to the eye, we end up improving the airway as well.

Some recent research on the effect of tummy tucks has proven interesting. In a tummy tuck as well as getting rid of the excess skin and associated fat, the stretched muscle wall of the abdomen is also tightened and repaired. This has the visual benefit of flattening the abdominal bulge but some interesting research by physiotherapists has shown that there are other benefits as well. This tightening of the muscle wall helps the abdomen support the torso more effectively and takes a lot of strain away from the back. Thus people with a history of back pain often find that this is improved after abdominoplasty.

Their research also showed that the procedure often resulted in improved bladder control and correction of some of the urinary incontinence issues which can be seen after child bearing. So that return to a slim trim torso not only looks better but it makes the body work better as well.

I guess as a species, it is not surprising that we evolved to be attracted to features in such a way that what looks good also works well. After all these are the genes one would want to pass on.

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