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I have a couple questions about the facial feature differences between the sexes and why those come to be. There seem to be some facial features that only men have.

1) Do women ever get those big square chins and jaws? Obviously there are women with square faces and some with square jaws like Angie Harmon. A square face is not inherently masculine. But I've never seen a woman with a chin/jaw like Kurt Cobain or Jay Leno.

2) do all men have a brow ridge? I've never seen a woman that had one or a man that didn't have one, that I've noticed. Some are very prominent and others are less noticeable but still there.

As a lay person my research has just told me the difference boils down to testosterone but it must be more than that right? Women do not sprout these features from taking testosterone. Even the ones that were doped up for most of their lives like the DDR wrestlers.

Lastly, what causes these features to develop and is there anything that can hinder the development of these features in men? Or to the contrary cause these features to manifest in women?

I have a couple questions about the facial feature differences between the sexes and why those come to be. There seem to be some facial features that only men have. 1) Do women ever get those big square chins and jaws? Obviously there are women with square faces and some with square jaws like Angie Harmon. A square face is not inherently masculine. But I've never seen a woman with a chin/jaw like Kurt Cobain or Jay Leno. 2) do all men have a brow ridge? I've never seen a woman that had one or a man that didn't have one, that I've noticed. Some are very prominent and others are less noticeable but still there. As a lay person my research has just told me the difference boils down to testosterone but it must be more than that right? Women do not sprout these features from taking testosterone. Even the ones that were doped up for most of their lives like the DDR wrestlers. Lastly, what causes these features to develop and is there anything that can hinder the development of these features in men? Or to the contrary cause these features to manifest in women?

14 comments

[–] ProxyMusic 4 points Edited

As a lay person my research has just told me the difference boils down to testosterone but it must be more than that right? Women do not sprout these features from taking testosterone. Even the ones that were doped up for most of their lives like the DDR wrestlers.

The idea that gonadal sex hormones are responsible for most physical differences between the two human sexes was in vogue for most of the 20th century, and shaped a lot of research - because sex hormones are easy to measure and manipulate. But over the past 30 years or since so much detailed study of cells including stem cells and genetics has become possible and more and more of this kind of inquiry has been done, it's become clear that many physical sex difference are due to genes and sex chromosomes rather than just sex hormones - or are not the result of sex hormones at all.

One of the reasons that women doped from girlhood like female athletes in the DDR don't develop certain male characteristics in, for example, skull and facial structure is that male and females have different androgen receptors or ARs. Though research in this area is still in early stages, research on other animals like mice show that the ARs in the two sexes are different in number, kind, location, function and genetic expression. So in other words, not all cells/organs/parts of female bodies respond to testosterone and other androgens the same way that the same or analogous cells/organs/parts of male bodies do.

I found this article. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2015-09-23/masculine-face-linked-to-testosterone-levels-in-womb/6795422

Which is from this study https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rspb.2015.1351

Professor Whitehouse and his colleagues analysed 97 males and 86 females, whose umbilical cord blood had been collected as part of the study.

They measured the testosterone levels in the cord blood a well as at other times during the study.

Once the children had reached the age of 21 to 24 years, the researchers then checked to see how masculine their faces were.

"Higher levels of testosterone in the cord blood are actually related to more masculine facial features," Professor Whitehouse said.

"That holds within sexes as well," he added. "So if we look at just females we find that females with more testosterone have more masculine features as well."

Previous research has found that testosterone levels during puberty determine how masculine and feminine you look, but Professor Whitehouse said levels in the womb were more important.

"We tested pubertal hormone levels as well, and found that it was the prenatal levels that were more related to adult facial structure," he said.

You can have a lot of frontal bossing and jaw squaring from acromegaly, which is caused by excess growth hormone

Anecdotally I have seen square jaw and brow ridge in a woman with high testosterone, but she'd had it all her life presumably, so it was present during puberty, not as the effect of exogenous hormone replacement

Can confirm as a woman who has had a brow ridge for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with PCOS, so I assume it's due to high testosterone.

[–] greenbeans 3 points Edited

Ok so I have always been very self conscious about my square jaw. Therefore what follows isn't really scientific but just my personal perspective.

I have always made note of female celebrities with this facial feature, as a way of comforting myself I suppose. There are actually quite a few. A lot of them have otherwise stereotypically feminine features (pouty lips, small noses) which seemingly make the angularity of their jaws seem more acceptable in a woman in society's eyes. The contrast might even make them more striking. I believe that if their other features were less feminine, they wouldn't be accepted as celebrities.

A few examples: Keira Knighley, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Olivia Wilde, Margot Robbie, Jennifer Lopez, Zoe Kravitz, Heidi Klum, Billie Piper, Kelly Osborne (I remember some awful gossip website hounding her over this feature years ago and she has now had her jawbone shaved looking at recent pictures), Sandra Bullock, Tori Spelling.

Tallulah Willis (Bruce Willis' daughter) has inherited his jawline. There are some nasty comments about it online, comparing her unfavourably to her mother Demi Moore.

A lot of female newsreaders in the UK (e.g Fiona Bruce) have this feature. I wonder if a woman with a 'more masculine' feature is more trusted with 'serious topics' (as long as her other features are still pretty of course).

I believe that for most of the above examples it is an inherited feature. Mine is inherited from my Dad. Just one face shape of many, just with different connotations.

As for brow ridges? Never seen that on a woman to my knowledge.

ETA: I remember reading about bone shaving jawline surgery being really popular in Korea, where an ultra feminine look is usually pushed. I really hope it doesn't become a thing in other countries.

I wonder if a woman with a 'more masculine' feature is more trusted with 'serious topics' (as long as her other features are still pretty of course).

I'd be really interested to see a study about this. It makes me think of how the female "newscaster voice" affect in the US is deeper than the anchor's natural voice.

I have a slight brow ridge and know many women with one. Shit, there are celebrity women with a brow ridge. πŸ™„

Just look at women's faces next time you go grocery shopping instead of instagram and you'll find that we come with a variety of facial features, up to and including BROW RIDGES, square jaws, big ass noses, high foreheads, etc.

I probably didn't notice because it isn't a feature I share (unlike a square jaw which I always take note of).

Kate Fleewood has the most square jaw I've ever seen. She is stunning!

Someone already answered your question pretty well. So I'll just ask if you know of Idina Menzel? She's an example of a woman with a very masculine jaw.

In fact that look was popular for plastic surgery a few years back, I think it was called the "Nordic" look. Farah Fawcett had that very square jaw and big teeth look as well.