Are You Ugly? There's An App for That

We know you don't believe your mother when she tells you how beautiful you are. But would you believe a phone app?

Ugly Meter, an app that rates users' attractiveness, recently shot up to the top of the list in the iPhone app store, just behind Angry Birds. Apps such as Ugly Meter, Beauty Meter, and Face Meter scan a user's face and measure the proportions and placement of their features. The person's attractiveness — and the "magic" behind the ratings — is based on a mathematical equation called the "golden ratio" that defines perfect proportions (not just in faces, but also in design, architecture, math, and more).

We decided to put these ugly and beauty apps to the test with some famous and not-so famous faces. Here’s what we found.

Vampire or Heartthrob: Alexander Skarsgard

The apps can be a bit confusing in how they rank faces. Some apps give a high numerical score – like a thumbs up — for being attractive. Other apps give a high numerical score – like a thumbs up — for being deemed ugly. Ugly Meter not only ranks users, but disses or compliments them, as well. "You could win a professional ugly contest," one app says to the user. Others who rank low on the scale might get positive reinforcement. "You're so sexy you make Athena jealous."

Beyonce's Face: Pristine Proportions

Beyonce Knowles received a perfectly beautiful score on the Ugly Meter, which is fitting considering People Magazine picked her as this year's most beautiful woman.

All this hype about formulas that rate attractiveness leads to the question: Is beauty merely a digital equation? A 2009 study by University of Toronto researchers in the journal Vision Research showed that the key to the ideal face was in measuring the spaces between the eyes, mouth, and ears. Researchers asked subjects to rate the attractiveness of photos of women where distance between the features had been extended or shortened, while the features themselves remained the same.

The experiment helped the researchers come up with the most attractive facial ratios, which they say correspond to a composite of the average face.

The study found that the distance between a woman's eyes and mouth should be slightly more than a third of the overall length of her face, and the space between her pupils should be slightly smaller than half the width of her face.

George Clooney Is ... Ugly?

Ugly Meter ranked sex symbol Clooney very high in ... ugliness. This might indicate that math isn't a good judge of beauty or handsomeness. The eternal bachelor was chosen as People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive twice, and he's been seen with a rotating slew of beautiful women, from English fashion model Lisa Snowdon to Italian actress Elisabetta Canalis.

One Day You're Down, the Next You're Up

George Clooney is redeemed! The free Beauty Meter gives him a nine — a high score that means he's very attractive.

The way we determine facial beauty is complex, and ratios aren't everything, according to a 2010 study by University of California, Los Angeles researchers. Subjects were asked to rate the attractiveness of 56 faces (both male and female), as well as faces split in half lengthwise and across. Researchers found a strong correlation between the attractiveness ratings of half-faces and full faces. Their conclusion? When it comes to beauty, sometimes too much is made of symmetry and ratios.

Beauty Is in the Eye of the App

Results in the attractiveness apps, in this case Beauty Meter, are a bit inconsistent. ishonest employee Keith Giles garners two points for his attractiveness the first time around, and then ...

App Reverses Its Judgement

Giles rated a nine for attractiveness on the second try. Although he said he doesn't give the app too much clout, he breathed a slight sigh of relief at his favorable score.

Some researchers have noted that we may associate facial symmetry with overall health. Several studies show that facial asymmetries and minor physical anomalies can be a sign of instability during the growth of an embryo in the first trimester of pregnancy. According to a BBC report, though, even Angelina Jolie wouldn't have a mathematically gorgeous face because she doesn't fit the ideal ratio established in the 2009 Toronto study, according to the lead researcher.

Wait a Minute! Didn't I Just Score a Gorgeous?

Supermodel Heidi Klum gets paid for her good looks, but according to Ugly Meter, her face places her squarely in ugly territory. "It seriously just spits out random numbers to make ppl feel ugly," wrote user Seeyalata in a review on iTunes. "I even took pictures of ugly chairs and a dog and even a bowl of cereal. It told me how attractive they all were!"

You're So Ugly You Could Bark

Sparkle, an Airedale terrier from Massachusetts, got a nine on Beauty Meter, placing her neck and neck with George Clooney. While Sparkle's friends and family think she's adorable, her rating made us wonder about the credibility of these apps.

Ryan Gosling: Who Doesn't Think He's Hot?

Recently, Ryan Gosling fans protested when he was overlooked as People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive. (Bradley Cooper took the title.) Apparently, Ugly Meter agrees with People. Gosling scored a 5.3, indicating he's just average.

Gosling told the British magazine Company that The Notebook director Nick Cassavetes said to him, "'I want you to play this role because … you're not handsome, you're not cool, you're just a regular guy who looks a bit nuts.'"

You Might Love Her or Hate Her, But ...

Sex and the City star and producer Sarah Jessica Parker had a hard time getting leading lady roles and typically was the frizzy-haired sidekick in movies, until Steve Martin cast her in L.A. Story. But according to Ugly Meter, she's mathematically gorgeous.

If At First You Don't Succeed

Rosen rates an eight on Beauty Meter, just under Spiegel's nine. While it's better than she did on Ugly Meter, she's still not thrilled. (Maybe you should smile next time, Chase.)

The Perfect Face?

On the other side of the pond, late last month, an 18-year-old college student won the title of “Britain’s Most Beautiful Face,” based solely on mathematical formulas. Florence Colgate was told her face had optimal ratios between her eyes, mouth, forehead, and chin. The distance between the eyes and the mouth should be a third of the length of the face, for example, a measurement Colgate met almost exactly. The competition was sponsored by Lorraine Cosmetics and had nearly 8,000 entrants.

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