Washington: Late Dame Elizabeth Taylor was considered the ‘most beautiful woman in the world’. But what was it about her beauty, exactly, that made it so special?
Of course, she had those unforgettable violet eyes and cascading mane of dark hair. But scientists have said research has helped shed even more light on what made Taylor’s beauty so rare.
The violet eyes, Taylor’s white skin and raven hair may be captivating on their own, but Nancy Etcoff, a Harvard psychologist and author of "Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, said that it was the combination of them that likely boosted her allure.
"A higher contrast tends to make the face look more feminine," ABC News quoted her as saying.
Taylor’s signature bold lip colour and dark, made-up eyes further contributed to the effect, she said.
"She also had a feature that most people wouldn’t think of as contributing to attractiveness, but really does, which is a small, gracile jaw," she said.
"Which means a jaw that is kind of small and very hyper-feminine."
"If we think that one sign of beauty, and there are many others, is hyperfemininity, then she has that exaggerated lower face with large lips and a small jaw," Etcoff said.
"That’s one aspect of beauty that’s very noticeable in her face."
Taylor’s face isn’t the only attribute that science has found to be attractive.
"She combines that beautiful face with a very beautiful body, which is beautiful in a particular way," said Etcoff.
"She’s almost what we would call a super-normal stimulus, which means that her hourglass figure is exaggerated."
Taylor’s two-time husband Richard Burton may have called the actress’s breasts "apocalyptic" and able to "topple empires," she said, but they were paired with a tiny, little waist.
Science has shown that the ideal waist-to-hip ratio is 0.7, she said, but Taylor’s hourglass figure supposedly boasted a 0.6 ratio.
"You think of her as voluptuous, but that combined with a tiny waist made her exaggeratedly feminine and attractive," she said.
Stephen Link, a psychologist at the University of California Los Angeles, said his research has shown that there are even more mathematical ratios underlying Taylor’s lauded looks.
They asked about 160 students to look at hundreds of faces with different proportions and discovered their "golden ratios": When the vertical distance between a woman’s eyes and mouth was about 36 percent of the face’s length, and when the horizontal distance between the eyes was about 46 percent of the face’s width, the face was judged to be more attractive.
"She was right there with the proportions of the beautiful face," he said.
"Elizabeth Taylor was a great beauty and she has those proportions that are those of the ideal."
Lois Banner, professor of history and gender studies at the University of Southern California and author of ‘American Beauty,’ said that while Taylor’s natural looks certainly contributed to her fame, her image was also bolstered by smart publicity, heavy studio support and her many love affairs.
Taylor was tapped to be a star early in her career, Banner said, during a time when there were fewer Hollywood stars. That meant more pages in fan magazines, more glamorous roles sent her way and more attention lavished on her by studios and admirers.
Her many lovers also helped create an image of the highly sought-after siren.
"[The public] always likes to see stars marrying exotic men they never dreamed they could marry," she said.
"On one hand she lived an ordinary life; on the other hand she lived an extraordinary life. So there were a lot of fantasy worlds that she was actualizing."
Even Taylor’s many personal battles, with drugs and alcohol, helped lift her profile by keeping her in the public eye, she said.
"She was a struggling star, and the public loves a struggling star," she added.