My flash fiction story A BROKEN OATH is available to read online on SpelkFiction.com. This is my second published short story dealing with the ideals of beauty. The first, BEAUTY OF THE OUTGOING TIDE (click for link), can be read at FlashFictionMagazine.com. I also have a third completing the triptych about beauty, A DECLINE OF ADONIS, which I hope to have published soon.
“A Broken Oath” is written around a concept that has stuck with me from a long-past college psychology class: what we find attractive facially isn’t the exceptional or exaggerated, rather the normal. There are studies in which test subjects rate pictures which are amalgamations of multiple faces—composites of two faces, ten, fifty, one-hundred, etc. The pictures that rate the highest for beauty are the ones with the most faces blended together; the lowest rated, the ones where only two faces were combined.
These results indicate beauty isn’t linked to the exceptional or the unique, but rather in the ordinary and average. The hypothesis is that the more faces that are combined, the more unusual or uncommon features would be blended out. I suppose this makes sense as I would think it strange to hear someone complimenting with—”Her ears are twice the size of anyone’s I have ever seen…” or, “Wow, I’ve never seen someone whose eyes are so close together! They almost touch!” Certainly, without any context, we would interpret these mentions of exceptionalisms as insults.
This same idea seems consistent with the computer algorithms recently created to measure beauty. In these programs, an uploaded picture of your face is measured for left-right symmetry and consistent ratios between features, the more balanced earning the higher ‘attractiveness quotient’.
So is “A Broken Oath” an extension of these concepts horribly twisted and dragged through the streets of course. Thanks to Spelk for their consideration in running this story. Please visit their site and read some of the other flash fiction from their list of talented writers.