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Medial canthal tilt and attractiveness

The medial canthus is the inner corner of the eye, formed by the junction of the upper and lower eyelids.  In the two images below, the image on top shows a picture of the eyes of a woman and the image below it shows the same picture with the medial canthus digitally tilted (using Adobe photoshop).  Bashour and Geist investigated whether slightly increasing the tilt of the medial canthus increases attractiveness(1).

medial canthal tilt

The faces of 66 young women of European ancestry were photographed and 66 corresponding slides were prepared showing the unaltered face next to the same face where the medial canthal tilt was artificially increased.  50 male and 50 female judges were exposed to these slides and asked to pick the more appealing picture without being told what the purpose of the study was.  Each slide was shown for 3 seconds.

The data from 7 judges were excluded because one judge recognized a face, 3 judges figured out that the study was about eye alteration and 3 judges were not able to judge all the slides.

Increased medial canthal tilt was preferred 93% of the time (p < 0.0001), with no difference between male and female judges.  What explains this preference?  Consider the following diagrams first, which show how medial canthal tilt and palpebral fissure inclination are measured, respectively.

Medial canthal tilt measurement

Medial canthal tilt: the angle between a horizontal line passing through the lowest point of the medial canthus and a line bisecting the medial caruncle at its lateral end.

Palpebral fissure inclination measurement

Palpebral fissure inclination: the angle between a horizontal line passing through the lowest point of the medial canthus and a line bisecting the lateral canthus.

The authors speculated that part of the reason why greater medial canthal tilt in women is preferred is that the palpebral fissure inclination is slightly greater in women than men and greater in children than in adults, and increased medial canthal tilt appears to suggest greater palpebral fissure inclination, i.e., an accentuation of femininity and neoteny. 

Whereas above average femininity is a powerful correlate of beauty in women, neoteny isn’t even though many researchers continue to point this out.  Elsewhere within this site, it has been shown that neoteny, which is the retention in the adult of the features of the juvenile stages of the ancestral species, does not apply to the shape of the human face.  The authors were trying to imply pedomorphy as a correlate of beauty but incorrectly used the term neoteny.  Pedomorphy refers to the retention in the adult of more child-like features.  Whereas it is true that the faces of women are closer to those of children, sexual maturity makes both males and females move away from the face shape of children, and the central tendency of adults is to prefer sexually mature individuals.  Therefore, it is incorrect to describe pedomorphy as a correlate of beauty when more attractive features that appear to be pedomorphic are either somewhat more feminine than average features (e.g., less prominent noses and broader faces, controlling for other factors) and thereby more attractive in women or somewhat more gracile than average features and thereby more attractive in both men and women.

The authors addressed whether the medical canthal tilt can be surgically altered.  So far no surgical procedure has been developed to achieve this, but the palpebral fissure inclination can be altered via a procedure known as lateral tarsal strip canthal fixation.

The authors also provided three illustrations of celebrities with noticeable medial canthal tilt and attractive eyes: Claire Forlani, Jennifer Connelly and Shalom Harlow.  Their pictures in the paper are low resolution black-and-white ones and not worth reproducing here because the reader can easily look up these women on the net, but none of these women happen to be feminine, and the choices apparently stem from the authors’ desire to illustrate the following point they make:

An accentuated medial canthal tilt is potentially responsible for the peculiar and particular attractiveness of certain professional female model’s faces that otherwise have no other particular features to make them more attractive than any other professional female model’s faces.

Here is an example of a feminine woman with clear medial canthal tilt.


  1. Bashour, M., and Geist, C., Is medial canthal tilt a powerful cue for facial attractiveness?, Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg, 23, 52 (2007).


I certainly agree with the author's observation because a lower placement of the medial canthus by relative comparison will make the lateral canthus appear "higher" in such a way that the viewer's eye of the eye being viewed is lead along an upward diagonal line.

According to Farkas, the medial canthus does not displace itself with aging where the lateral canthus displaces itself more medially with aging relative to it's distance from the lateral orbital rim. It's also one of those things for all intents and purposes is not changed via plastic surgery. However, also according to Farkas (who did extensive anthropometrical measures of palpebral fissure horizontal distance to the youthful eye), the average measure for European females is about 32mm. Aging along with some canthopexy procedures, although they increase the angle of inclination the lateral canthus, has with the horizontal also decrease the horizontal 'length' of the palpebral fissue.

Within mathematical aesthetic theory, (which can get pretty obtuse or esoteric as it's kind of a "lost art"), we often look at the angle of inclination of something and relate that back to 'golden angles' or angles derived from golden ratio type mathematics. That is to say if one were to 'design' a face for "beauty" as to appeal to the subjectivity of the person evaluating the work, one would use what the master artists used themselves which involve manipulating ratios and angles in such a way to relate back to golden ratio geometry.

However, a lot of the time, the art of "cracking" what they did (as in "How did Leonardo do that?") is a pretty esoteric study, mostly indulged in by 'art critics', connoisseurs, academic art historians etc as the great artists tended to be on the secretive side as to what their tricks were.

That said, my explanation of why the eye in your morphed photo looks better than the original would arise from a form of aesthetic analysis which does have some mathematical relationships at the heart of it.

For example 36 degrees relates to a 'golden angle'. 6 degree angle of inclination would be an even multiple of that. You have the value of the angle of palpebral fissure inclination as 5.76707. This is pretty close to 6 degrees of inclination.

As you can see, mathematical analysis (the act of your measuring the angle of inclination) is a very powerful tool when making observations about beauty. I'm just relating back your observation to mathematical aesthetic theory which I feel fits well into. As we sometimes say: "Beauty is in the PHI of the beholder". Phi being the golden ratio or derivatives thereof.

About this point I totally agee that women with Medial canthal tilt are attactive. that's why I like middle eastherner and meditteranean women or any women with that type of eyes. personally, I do not care that much about women shape face, skin color or shape, as long as her face isn't appears to be that squareness, her body isn't that fat, her tallness isn't that short like dwarf or that tall 200 cm up. even she'd 200 cm. but if the ovarall are fine it is okay with me.

but the most I look at to the women eyes. and I could notice that the woman who has Medial canthal, appears to be more feminine, sweet eyes and look like she has kind face.

example like this turkish young woman. she looks so sweet.

or this India woman.

or this Iranian.

or this pakistani woman.

aishwarya rai eyes.

Turk singer eyes.

Beautifull turk eyes.

Arab eyes.

Beautifull Turk woman, the descendent of Mongol-Azari with Arab = beautifull caucasian looking.

Anyone interested to read what I ever post on here about, where european people comes from? can follow this link. they are the descendent of
Mongol in Central asia mixted race with Middle eastherner. so I find this's quite horrible how the owner of this site attribute white beauty up, awhile insulting women from other race or women who dosen't fit to european looking .

Erik : you were very wrong since last time u told me u have ever been interested to put TURKISH beauty up? an u said u find at least they are not real turkey, on the contrary u tell me that all european's looking asian women, middle eastherenr, arab and Iranian whatever...they are the remnants of caucasian people? and I'd tell u now that's very wrong. such as turkish people. all of them, especially the one with green, blue eyes and light hair. are descendent of mongol azari ( mongol central asia) from turkmenistan.
and I know this from turkish people themselve, also the Iranian or arab that look like european. it's the same way like what I've told on the section, maria sheriff.

blue eyes, blond hair, small nose were started first time in central asia.

I think this two Iranian got Medial canthal tilt

The author writes that Jennifer Connnelly is not feminine. Please explain. As she has lost weight with age, she certainly looks less feminine, but please explain how a younger Connelly is not feminine.

For example, it looks like she has a feminine waist-hip ratio in this captured picture from The Hot Spot.

For the face, consider this picture from Career Opportunities.

The very last girl, to me, symbolizes perfection. A fantasy I will hold dear for quite a long time. Thank you for this article, and for helping me understand why I consider certain women to be especially beautiful.

I'm sorry, I meant the one on the horse.

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