eLi5: Why is it that all humans have the same facial features(typically): eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, ears, etc yet there is so much variation of what we find attractive?

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eLi5: Why is it that all humans have the same facial features(typically): eyes, nose, mouth, cheeks, ears, etc yet there is so much variation of what we find attractive?

In: Biology
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Because the variation in what we find attractive occurs at a level much lower than basic presence or absence of facial features. Having eyes, a nose, a mouth, cheeks and ears is a base prerequisite that all humans need to be attracted to someone – if someone lacks one of those properties, we find them unpleasant to look at because they invoke fear of the uncanny (and in some cases the outright gruesome).

The variation in what humans find attractive matches the variation that humans have in these same traits. All humans have eyes, and all humans find eyes important for attraction, but there are lots of different ways that eyes can look, and lots of different preferences you can have for eyes. Just to give a very basic example: Eyes can come in blue, brown and green varieties, and each has many different sub-types. And hypothetically speaking, I may be most attracted to blue eyes, and you most attracted to brown. Behold: Variation in what we find attractive that matches variation in how the trait manifests in humans.

In a world where everyone looked exactly the same, like a bad black mirror episode, there would be no variation in what we find attractive because there would be no variation in what we look like.