Friday, August 17, 2012

The Difference Between Men and Woman

In My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins asks the rhetorical question, "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" He cannot understand Eliza's behavior, or understand what makes her tick; he's not actually questioning why men and women look different.

But I am. 

Since I've spent the past few days sewing instead of drawing and painting, I wanted to do a little "limbering up" drawing exercise. I opened my sketchbook and looked around. The photographic portrait on the front of a magazine looked like a good thing to render in pencil.

Not bad, right?

Lovely woman...except that the photographic portrait that I was copying was of a man!

Cover of Contact Sheet, a publication of Light Work, Syracuse New York. Photo by Angelika Rinnhofer

What is it that makes a woman's face look like a woman, and a man's face look like a man? There are some aspects that don't merit examination: obviously, a dark-haired man has the shadow of his beard, even if freshly shaven, and the woman doesn't.

1. Photo Man (hereafter known as Man) has a prominent Adam's Apple. But so does Sketch "Man" (hereafter known as Woman) So the presence or absence of an Adam's Apple alone probably doesn't define a face (throat?) as that of a man. I suspect that a pronounced Adam's Apple, in profile, might.

2. Man has a cleft chin, but so does Woman. Apparently, it's not chin clefts that distinguish a man's face from a woman's.

3. They have the same long, straight, dark hair. I don't think it's the hair.

4. They have the same angled jaw.

5. Face shape! Woman's face is very square, and Man's is quite long and rectangular. Is this a key to differentiation? Are men's faces longer than women's faces, in general?

6. Woman's upper lip is much more padded out than Man's upper lip. Are women's lips really plumper than men's lips, or are we just used to looking at women's lips with lipstick that makes them look plumper. Actually, all of her features are plumper, or just a wee bit larger in proportion to the entire face, than his.

7. This is a minute difference, but Woman has bigger white highlights in her eyes than Man. Do women have more sparkly eyes than men? (Eek. Now that I've stared at her eyes, she's giving me the creeps.) 

Or is it something else?

I think that an experiment is in order. I'm going to grab the cover of Vogue--the infamous September issue should hit my mailbox in the next day or two--and sketch the cover model (Gaga!?)... with a longer face, slightly smaller features, a narrower upper lip, and very minimal eye highlights...and see if I end up with a man.

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