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How Diverse Are Beauty Ads, Really? Researchers Investigate

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 22/03/2016 Glamour

By Petra Guglielmetti, Glamour
We've known since studying our first Sassy magazine decades ago that models tend to share certain physical traits, from the wide-set eyes all the way down to the impossible thigh gaps. And despite recent efforts to include a more diverse cast of models in photo shoots and on runways--including the full spectrum of skin tones and hair textures and sizes--the big picture continues to depict a whole lot of sameness. We got to look at that big picture from a new angle thanks to something fascinating we discovered via Refinery 29: a visual mashup that captures exactly how similar the faces used in beauty ads really are.
In a project called Average Faces of Brand Names, the design company Canva rounded up the faces most commonly used in ads for different market sectors--from beauty and clothing to electronics and car insurance. For the beauty industry, they focused on a handful of top brands, taking at least 10 of each brand's spokesmodels and "averaging" their faces into one representative image. Here's what the resulting lineup looks like (or click over to the original and get the full effect by mousing over the image).
2016-03-18-1458323850-2886065-canvaadvertisingbeautyw724.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-03-18-1458323850-2886065-canvaadvertisingbeautyw724.jpg Photos: Courtesy of Canva
As this eerie army of very attractive clones proves, the same old standards are still in place for what's considered beautiful--at least when it comes to selling you beauty products (the photo collages featuring models used in ads for the other industries featured slightly more varied and ordinary-looking human specimens). "Many facial features remained somewhat consistent across the board--facial structure, lip and eye shape, eyebrow curvature, and nose width were all stunningly similar," the Canva article notes. "High cheekbones and pronounced jawlines were an exceptionally popular choice throughout this specific category, and full, pink lips unfailingly made the beauty brand cut." Unsurprisingly, models for beauty products also tend to be "highly youthful."
We're hoping that as this graphic makes its rounds on the internet, it helps forward the ongoing conversation about casting models who are less cookie-cutter and more representative of all the variations on beautiful we see in real life every day. And even though we know there are psychological studies supposedly showing otherwise, we firmly believe that we don't base our decision to buy a mascara on the model's eyes being precisely 2.5 inches apart--but we might consciously go out of our way to buy one that made a statement by using a face that stands out as unique.
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MAGAZINE COVERS © Antony Giblin via Getty Images MAGAZINE COVERS

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