High cheekbones

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The high cheekbones of model Natasha Poly
Abraham Lincoln, an example of prominent cheekbones

High cheekbones refers to the zygomatic bones in the face of primates, which in certain individuals may be more pronounced than others, causing the upper part of the cheeks to jut out and form a line cut into the sides of the face. High cheekbones, forming a symmetrical face shape, are very common in fashion models and is considered a beauty trait.[1] High cheekbones develop with maturity and are a sign a woman is old enough to be capable of reproduction.[1] According to Cartwright, in males prominent facial features such as high cheekbones and a strong jaw and chin are a sign of a high level of testosterone and are considered attractive physical traits in many cultures.[2]


Cheek and zygomatic or malar bones are the most prominent of the bone structure of facial features with malar bones contributing to the prominence of the cheeks. In the posterior part of the zygomatic bone the support is provided by the zygomatic arch, which acts as buttress support to the cheek bones) and is a part a “backward process of cheekbone and forward projection of the temporal bone.” There is no flesh beneath this, and the hollowness extends up to the sides of the head in front of the ears. By placing a finger on the zygomatic arch and alternately opening and closing the mouth, one can discern the presence of the temporal fossa (with its large temporal muscle and its fibres passing below the Zygomatic arches).

It is also noted that the prominence of cheek bones are identified with the humans (whether Mongolian, Tartar or Australian aborigines who have broad features), but the fullness of tissues of the cheek on which the shape of the cheekbone is dependent, or the absence of tissues and lack of fat could result in prominence of malar bones causing high cheek bones; such a prominence is not real as it is purely on account of the “wasting of the surrounding tissues than undue projection of the bone itself.” Such a feature is more prominent at old age.[3]

In history and different populations[edit]

Left: the prominent cheekbones of a reconstructed Homo erectus adult female (John Gurche 2010). Right: Co-ee-há-jo, a Seminole chief (George Catlin 1837).

The presence of high cheekbones as a beauty trait is evident in many sculptures and art from the ancient world. For instance Ancient Chinese sculptures of goddesses typically have a "broad forehead, raised eyebrows, high cheekbones, and large, sensuous mouth".[4] Similarly, many depictions of Qin warriors in the Terracotta Warriors are depicted with "broad foreheads, high cheekbones, large eyes, thick eyebrows, and stiff beards."[4] Some races of people on average have higher cheekbones than others. Native American facial structure is typically of "a very pronounced brow and arch of the nose, high cheekbones, and a lean, square chin;"[5] the characteristics also described as of high cheekbones apart from small, very sharp eyes, wide mouth and projecting and suspended lips.[6] High cheekbones is a trait often associated with people of Italian,[7] Spanish, [8] Scandinavian[9] and Eastern European[10] descent and some African races.[11]


Because high cheekbones are often regarded as a beauty trait, some individuals have cosmetic surgery to make their cheekbones more pronounced and have cheekbone implants.[12]


  1. ^ a b Sex and Society. Marshall Cavendish. September 2009. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-7614-7906-2. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Cartwright, John (24 July 2000). Evolution and Human Behavior. MIT Press. p. 259. ISBN 978-0-262-53170-2. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Thomson, Arthur (1906). A Handbook of Anatomy for Art Students. Clarendon Press. p. 391-392. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Howard, Angela Falco; Li, Song; Wu, Hung; Yang, Hong (28 April 2006). Chinese Sculpture. Yale University Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-300-10065-5. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Albert, Greg (15 September 1991). Basic Drawing Techniques. North Light Books. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-89134-388-2. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  6. ^ May, Karl (2006). High cheek bones common among Indians of American Origin. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 177. ISBN 9780826418487. Retrieved 3 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Price, Richard (15 April 1999). The Wanderers. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-395-97774-3. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Souther, R. C. (14 September 2011). Inner Window: An Oss Adventure. Dorrance Publishing. p. 197. ISBN 978-1-4349-1148-3. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Headlee, Carla Marie (10 February 2010). Lifelines. iUniverse. p. 226. ISBN 978-1-4401-9972-1. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Andrae, Tom (2006). Carl Barks And the Disney Comic Book: Unmasking the Myth of Modernity. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-57806-858-6. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. April 2008. p. 100. ISSN 00129011. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  12. ^ Siemionow, Maria Z. (19 March 2010). Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Springer. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-84882-512-3. Retrieved 2 November 2012.