Treasure the asymmetry

Today’s Zits, on bodily asymmetry:


Bodily symmetry is regularly seen as as index of health and genetic fitness, so it’s valued aesthetically. Ceteris paribus, symmetrical bodies are beautiful bodies. (Things aren’t always equal; sometimes, asymmetries are viewed as charming quirks, adorably unique.)

Easily visible features of the head, especially the face, have special weight in these judgments, because we’re very face-oriented creatures.

So: armpits?

A little background from Wikipedia:

Facial symmetry is one specific measure of bodily asymmetry. Along with traits such as averageness and youthfulness it influences judgments of aesthetic traits of physical attractiveness and beauty. For instance, in mate selection, people have been shown to have a preference [for] symmetry. This is because it is seen an indicator of health and genetic fitness, but also as holding adaptation qualities; reflecting the ability to withstand the changes in their environments.

Here’s a guy with a high-masculinity face (plus thick muscular neck, facial scruff, and prominent Adam’s apple), but with notably asymmetrical eyes.

(#2) A bug for many, a feature for some

Multiple facial asymmetries can be folded int a comic persona, as with Stephen Fry:

(#3) Not only asymmetrical, but also mobile and expressive

Some asymmetries in heads (not an exhaustive list):

eyes of different size or alignment; eyes of different  color; one corner of the mouth higher than the other; ears of different size; one earlobe free, one attached; tilted nose; chin cleft off-center

Some other bodily asymmetries that are quite visible:

one shoulder higher than the other, one leg or arm longer than the other, one hand or foot larger than the other

But — again — armpits?

Two have been reported: one armpit significantly hairier than the other, one significantly more scented than the other

The first is detectable, of course, only if your armpits are exposed; the cartoon in #1 has no exposed armpits, on Jeremy or his mother Connie.

The second is detectable only through intimate contact, so the person who notices it most is the bearer of the armpits. I say this as someone who’s been axillarily scent-asymmetric since puberty: tons of musk on the left, just a touch on the right. Ever since the right-arm disabilities following from the great Necrotizing Fasciitis Crisis of 2003, the difference is gigantic. Since I have no longer have occasion to broadcast my armpit musk as a sexual signal, though, I wash and deodorize, and nobody knows I have weird armpits but me.

One Response to “Treasure the asymmetry”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    From Nelson Minar, a link to:

    Tumblr blog The Nose of Stephen Fry: A blog dedicated to the nose of the most awesome Briton there is

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