Northern and Southern Facial Composites

September 25, 2010

Here's a comparison of phenotypes from Northern and Southern Italy using large random samples of 2000-2006 Miss Italia beauty pageant contestants, and deputies from the 14th Legislature of the Italian Republic, which were averaged out to create composite faces. Note that I've left out the soccer player composites that were part of my original post because of the small sample sizes and other issues.


40 Models from
Veneto, Northern Italy
43 Models from
Sicily, Southern Italy



36 Deputies from
Veneto, Northern Italy
56 Deputies from
Sicily, Southern Italy


The composite Veneto model's hair is about half a shade lighter than the Sicilian model's, and the Sicilian deputy is a little older, grayer and balder than the Veneto deputy. But apart from that, the similarities are quite striking — even greater than those between other adjacent Caucasoid groups. That shouldn't really come as a surprise, but I'm sure it will to Nordicists and people raised on stereotypes.

Software: Sqirlz Morph

8 comments

Giovanni said...

Very interesting post and the Blog is a fantastic idea.

hbd chick said...

the "guy" from sicily has a much stronger jaw -- and a broader head -- than the "guy" from the north. the "girl" from sicily, too, has a stronger jaw than the "girl" from the north, who has a much more acquiline face overall.

"...the similarities are quite striking — even greater than those between other adjacent Caucasoid groups."

but you can't compare spaniards vs. greeks to northern vs. southern italian. we'd need to see, say, northern vs. southern spaniards and northern vs. southern italians.

Italianthro said...

hbd chick, you're nitpicking and exaggerating. The word "much" doesn't apply to any of the differences you claim to see. Each pair of composites could easily be siblings — twins even.

>>> "you can't compare spaniards vs. greeks to northern vs. southern italian."

Spain and Greece aren't adjacent though. I was thinking more along the lines of Spanish vs. Portuguese or German vs. Dutch, i.e. any two groups who are ethnically similar and geographically close to each other.

Mr. Kim said...

None of these cranial composites come from random samples of people from their respective regions. This is absolutely silly.

For one, if the standard of beauty in both north and south italy prizes a common set of physical characteristics (which seems likely), you would probably not find significant phenotypic differences between supermodels from those two regions. (For instance, Cantonese supermodels tend to be about as light skinned as supermodels from Japan -- but does that mean that the two populations are equal in skin color? NO!)

Same goes for your deputies.

Nobody who has traveled in Italy can deny that southerners are shorter, swarthier, and different looking compared to their northern counterparts. These are only average differences, and of course, there is a considerable overlap in phenotypes between north and south (or between any two regions of Europe, for that matter).

Nonetheless, they do remain.

Blogger said...

Anyone who is Italian and lives in Italy knows Mr. Kim and all other foreigners who think they know something about Italians don't know anything at all. None of you would know the difference between a northerner and a southerner because there is no noticeable difference!

Italianthro said...

@ Mr. Kim

So you think deputies are selected the same way as models? Based on standards of beauty? How about soccer players? Are they chosen for their good looks as well and therefore not representative either? Stop wasting my time with your nonsense.

And P.S. the Miss Italia contestants represent all Italian phenotypes: light features, dark features, broad faces, narrow faces, straight hair, curly hair...just like the general population. Don't compare them to East Asian models, who all look exactly the same.

lcnman said...

@ Mr. Kim

"None of these cranial composites come from random samples of people from their respective regions..."

They DO come from random samples in their categories, i.e. randomly selected beautiful girls, randomly selected deputies. Then why would you think that the deputies, for example, represent a biased segment of the Italians from the anthropological point of view? They are not aristocrats, like the ancient Roman senators (even those were of both aristocratic and plebeian origin), just people of higher education and wealth, as many others in the country. The grandfathers of some of these deputies may very well have been simple farmers, workers, merchants etc. So, why would they not be representative of Italians as a whole?

"Nobody who has traveled in Italy can deny that southerners are shorter, swarthier, and different looking..."

Well, I for one deny this. I am not biased in any way, because I am Romanian.

I have been in Italy 7 times as a tourist in various places: Naples, Rome, Florence, Rimini, Venice, Milan and other places around these cities, so quite a wide range North-South (to be more exact, Bellagio/Como <--> Amalfi). I really didn't notice any visible difference between Italians from all these regions. Sometimes I was under the impression that I was seeing certain physiognomic traits over and over again in different places at different times, something hard to define, more like a "facial composite" in my subconscious. I think it's an impression you get in other countries with homogeneous populations as well.

It would be interesting to see if the same holds true for, say, Northern vs. Southern Germans or Austrians.

"if the standard of beauty in both north and south italy prizes a common set of physical characteristics (which seems likely),..."

No, it's not likely at all. This "standard of beauty", which you consider a bias altering the conclusions of the article, is beauty itself, pure and simple, in its various forms, Mr. Kim. If you look at the individual models sampled, you will find more diverse types, without any preference given to particular traits, be it in the North or the South. Or maybe you think, Mr. Kim, that the North contests favored beautiful brunettes or the South contests favored beautiful light-haired girls (the supposedly "exotic" types in the two regions), just to make the facial composites similar?

Emily Daniels said...

My mother's Sicilian family has china-white skin, light brown hair and blue eyes. I resemble the composite Southern Italian woman. We've had our DNA done and the haplogroups are the same as in Northern Italy. I traced my family history back to the 1730s in the same town in the Southeastern corner of Sicily (Pacino). And still people want to call us different from Northern Italians - "short, dark and swarthy". Go figure.