beauty map


My old friend Francis Galton, did more than just go on fantastic expeditions. He is also famous for creating a “Beauty Map” of Britain. He did this by walking the high streets of major cities with a punch counter in his pocket, recording whether those he passed were good, medium or bad looking. London was rated the best, Aberdeen the worst.


“Taking his interest in beauty all the way to Africa, he once encountered a “Hottentot” woman with pronounced steatopygia (a large behind). Knowing that look to be the height of fashion in Europe at the time, he whipped out his sextant and took thorough measurements of her figure from a distance.


Determined to measure intelligence in human subjects, Galton established an Anthropometric Laboratory at the International Health Exhibition in London in 1884. He didn’t measure intelligence with anything like a written IQ test. Instead, some 9,000 visitors to this laboratory paid three pennies apiece to undergo 17 body measurements (including skull size) and walk out with a score card telling them how smart (or not smart) they were.


As far as Galton was concerned, physical characteristics could reveal more than intelligence; they could show one’s criminal tendencies, too.  Among the misfits he found two types: one with features “broad and massive, like those of Henry VIII, but with a much smaller brain,” and the other “weak and certainly not a common English face.”


nothing English about these Maoris, apart from the nasty man who collected their heads

Published in: on May 5, 2009 at 8:14 am  Comments (32)  

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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I wonder how Galton would rate that creature in blue–she rivals that one I found yesterday. Although, which one has the worse teeth could tip the scales (heh) one way or the other.

    • I love me an overbite 😉

  2. Typo, that should read rival. The V is sticking on this keyboard. Please fix?

  3. i was going to scoff at how inane people were back in the olden days for doing a ‘beauty map’, but then i thought about all the inane magazines we have today that still do exactly that (“New York fashion is ‘in’ this season…”). We haven’t changed…it just seems to be less scientific today. [shaking my head]

  4. damn. i have no idea why, but i’m now flashing back to my failed attempt to bust balloons with darts at a carnival last weekend. oh, and i need to deflate the tires on my jeep, and perhaps check the dog for ticks…

  5. Looking at the woman in blue makes my back hurt. I’d hate to carry those around all day. A better argument for breast reduction surgery cannot be found.

  6. The centurion in the first pic has some mighty big manboobs.

    • I think it’s supposed to be Joseph-Josephine from the movie Freaks. If not her/him, then it’s one of the fake hermaphrodites that worked in sideshows at the turn of the century

      • FREAKS…that’s a movie they need to do a remake of. That thing still gives me the willies

  7. It’s true, though.

    There’s a lot of ugly in Aberdeen. I’ve been there and, oh, the Ugly, Ugly, Ugly.

  8. I guess intelligence and beauty are in the eyes of the beholder.

  9. Too bad he couldn’t have hung out at a Wal-Mart for a day. He would have burned through that clicker on the first half hour.

    • the Sydney equivalent of the Wal-Mart experience can be had at any Westfield Shopping Mall

  10. …well, I observed new generations (teenagers or so)with extremely big hands and foot for their sizes…
    not proportionally

  11. …how can I rid of this stupid avatar that I didnt put?

    • I don’t know how to control the avatars Reverb. You make fabulous boards, I’m really impressed!

  12. I’m a leg man myself ….. it’s a bonus if there’s more than one …….

  13. Galton was certainly a lot ‘smarter’ than the 9,000 folk who paid 3d a head to visit his lab !!!

    • Yeah, in today’s money he would have been able to buy a real whizz bang clicker with the profits

  14. Aberdeen and broad foreheads go hand in hand, and are as natural to look upon as strawberries and cream.

    Galton was way ahead (pardon the pun) of his time.

  15. That last picture shows that sometimes you give more head than you’re really prepared to give.

    • It’s a sad photo though isn’t it?

  16. I’d have done well on Galton’s skull-size-o-meter. I have a lovely skull. Sadly, its glory is often overlooked thanks to a pair that bear an uncanny resemblance to the woman in blue’s.

  17. all my male readers are now heading in your direction… 🙂

    • *insert comical leer and wiggly eyebrows as he heads over to woman in black’s blog*

  18. I love to look at people’s faces- hands too.
    But I like them attatched to a body. Somehow they lose their charm when you take them apart.

  19. I would have liked to have seen his beauty checklist!

    • It probably included an 18 inch waist and child bearing hips

  20. I’d have to say I’d probably be smiling to if I had a set of tits like that… then I’d just need a woman to put them on…

    Maori heads hey… wow, funny(sad) thing is that english guy probaby thought they were the animals

  21. The head collection is a bit ugly for sure. If only there was an actual beauty mad. I’d know what bars to swing by.

  22. Very cool.

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