Tuesday, March 31, 2009

smaller faces in Korea

Brian in Chŏllanam-do brings us news about how women's faces have gotten 5% smaller. He quotes a dentist from my alma mater who speculates on the reasons for the smaller faces:
Professor Kim Hee-jin from the department of dentistry in Yonsei University explained, “The decrease in face length can be attributed to the diet of preferring soft food such as hamburgers.” and added, “If one gets in the habit of eating food that mainly uses the front teeth when one is young, the jaw muscles which we use for chewing food may become weak and it may cause the size of the jawbone to become smaller.”
Unless Professor Kim has done actual research on this issue, I'd venture a guess that this is speculation rather than documentation. There may be more soft foods (although rice is pretty darn soft), but there is also more food in general, meaning more jaw movement.

I think changes in diet have led to changes in how fat and bone gets deposited on the frame, more stretched out rather than concentrated. (I'm reminded of reports from several years ago in which the condition of malnourished Chinese babies — they were being fed but what they were consuming was criminally altered — went unnoticed until too late because their enlarged heads were not associated with malnourishment.)

This in turn leads to changes in how skin is shaped across the face. Even without plastic surgery, there are bigger eyes, smaller faces, taller people, and more proportional and smaller heads and faces.

I'd have to dig around for the study, but you can look at marked changes between non-surgically altered Korean faces and Japanese faces from the late 19th century, mid-20th century, and early 21st century.

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