Golden Proportion

Understanding Gender Signals in Facial Structure: The Ratio of Bi-Zygomatic Width to Face Height


A larger ratio of Bi-Zygomatic-Width to Face-Height is considered a feminine feature, while a smaller ratio is a masculine one. Weston et al.’s (2007) study indicates that as children mature into adults, their facial structure changes; faces become longer and narrower, but these alterations vary between genders, especially post puberty. Boys develop wider faces, with the distance between their cheekbones (bizygomatic width) growing more than their face height, resulting in broader, somewhat shorter faces. Girls, however, maintain a longer face shape as their cheekbone width doesn’t expand as much. This leads to a higher ratio of cheekbone width to face height in men and a lower ratio in women. The wider, shorter facial structure is commonly associated with masculinity, while the longer, narrower one is considered feminine. Lakhiani & Somenek (2019) suggested that this sexual dimorphism in facial structure can be attributed to factors like women’s lighter but more noticeable cheekbones that give a rounder, heart-shaped appearance to the face, while men’s heavier cheekbones result in a squarer face.


The study by Weston et al. (2007) shows that as children grow into adults, their faces become longer and narrower. But interestingly, this change happens differently for boys and girls, especially after they hit puberty.

Boys, after puberty, grow broader faces – the distance between their cheekbones (known as bizygomatic width) increases more significantly than the height of their faces. That means boys end up with wider, somewhat shorter faces compared to girls. Girls, on the other hand, do not see as much increase in the width between their cheekbones when compared to boys. But the height of their faces doesn’t shorten as much. This results in girls having faces that are longer, considering the distance between their cheekbones.

So, when we look at the ratio of the distance between the cheekbones (bizygomatic width) to face height, a larger value means a wider, somewhat shorter face, which is more common in men. However, women tend to have a lower ratio – meaning a longer face when considering the width between their cheekbones. Hence, a smaller ratio of bizygomatic width to face height is seen as a feminine feature.

According to Lakhiani & Somenek (2019), a larger ratio of bizygomatic width (cheekbone width) to face height is considered feminine because it creates a rounder and softer facial contour. This is due to women’s lighter but more prominent cheekbones, accentuated with some cheek hollowing in the submalar region. These features lend a heart-shaped appearance to the face. Conversely, men tend to have heavier cheekbones with a flatter convexity, resulting in a smaller bizygomatic width to face height ratio. This makes men’s faces appear squarer, a trait generally associated with masculinity. The difference in these facial ratios is a manifestation of sexual dimorphism and contributes to our perception of femininity and masculinity.


Weston, E. M., Friday, A. E., & LiĆ², P. (2007). Biometric evidence that sexual selection has shaped the hominin face. PLoS one, 2(8), e710.

Lakhiani, C., & Somenek, M. T. (2019). Gender-related facial analysis. Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics, 27(2), 171-177.

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