Have human faces been changing since the 20th century?

Do people today have different than people did in the earlier parts of the 20th century?
So, of course, every individual is different. But I notice that people simply look different today than people did in the past.

Obviously, most people are fatter, taller, and a little bit more muscular today, but it also seems like most peoples faces are different too.

Some people claim that women in the 60s and prior looked more feminine. Some people claim that people in the past looked more neotenous and some say the opposite.

To me, it looks like women today have more prominent eyes, fuller cheeks, less prominent chins, less angular nose, but also a relatively shorter forehead in comparison to the rest of the face, overall bigger neck and slightly bigger face. This is when I compare them to old 20th century photos.

It seems like men today have a less wrinkled forehead, thinner hair, a bigger face, a less prominent chin, and a not as angular jawline.

Since this question appears to be based on casual observation rather than factual data, it’s better off in IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

Most human faces have gotten wrinklier since then. But some have undergone an even more dramatic change, in going from not existing at all to existing.

I, myself, am far more greyed and thinner than I was in 1999.

I meant if you were to compare young people’s faces of today with young people’s faces from 1900 to 1960. I was hoping if someone could point to some facts or an article.

I have no idea how you would even begin to test such a proposition. And do you mean in the US, or other places as well? Do you mean all ethnicities? How would you control for sampling bias?

Yeah, the faces from the past we’d be comparing to would be photographs. Photographs tend to be taken of people who are considered attractive. And what society considers attractive changes.

I don’t think that’s entirely true. When photographic processes became widely available it became rather a thing to have family portraits taken. These would be self selected for people of SOME means so you’d expect them to be in better health than poor folks, but there wouldn’t be selection for attractiveness any more than there is in Olan Mills photos. (Remember those?)

I have a photo of myself as a toddler, sitting on my grandmother’s lap. Grandma’s face is completely covered with wrinkles, and she looks like she’s well into her 80s. But I figured out her age in the photo… about 65. No 65-year-old, today, would look like that.

I have definitely noticed more bald young men than in years past. I mean guys in their 20s. Also more guys with protruding Adam’s apples. I don’t know if there could maybe some environmental cause or what.

But the OP is asking about young people. Photos of my grandparents, parents, and relatives taken from the 1900s to the 1960s when they were young don’t look relatively older than people today.

I don’t think faces have changed all that much from when photography first got started let alone when painters took liberty to make their subjects look better.


I mean, when you get down to it, most humans look alike with superficial differences. Skin tone, nose shape, ears and how your teeth align. And even those we now deem “ugly” got married (not always with issue): W.C. Fields and his honking nose, Marty Feldman with his eyes and, our president Donald J Trump with that weird growth on his head.

I think changes in hair, makeup, clothing styles, and the quality of photography itself make comparisons pretty difficult between people 100 years ago and today. One big change has been modern dentistry and orthodontia - a lot less bad and/or missing teeth mean a lot more attractive faces.

Now, photos of my parents at ages 15 and 30 show a lot more change in their appearance than photos of me at the same ages. But that 15 year time period for my parents included the Depression and World War II. You have to factor stuff like that into account, as well.

When I look at photos from the 1960s-1970s and photos from now, I believe I am seeing a far greater proportion of people now being overweight. Young people in school pictures.

Maybe much of the differences has to be about people being much leaner in the past decades but also slightly malnourished.

Well there is pretty good evidence that testosterone levels have been on a long term decline and testosterone levels during development impact facial features. Environmental xenoestrogens have also been alleged to have increased.

This is not proof that such has occurred but it is a reason to hypothesis that faces of both males and females would be less “masculine” now in comparison to 50 or more years ago.

In terms of what faces have been held out as attractive it does that that has changed -

I certainly would never have predicted that a Kardashian would be the epitome of beauty.

Oh, FACES. Never mind. I saw that as FECES.

An intrepid “investigator” agrees that human faces have been changing.

Forrest Maready has written a book called “Crooked: Man-Made Disease Explained”, in which he expostulates on his discovery that facial features have become significantly more lopsided compared to, say, the 19th century.

He blames it on metal toxicity, including of course exposure to vaccines.

The polite explanation is that he’s a nutbag, but YMMV.

The definition of “attractive” is so subjective that I would discount the entire analysis unless it was done by multiple people in a double-blind manner, and over several years to reduce cultural bias.