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 are considered a beauty trait in both males and females.[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.


Studies have demonstrated that women find prominent cheekbones in men attractive.[5] 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.[6]


  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. pp. 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. ^ "Why high cheekbones have such broad appeal". The Daily Telegraph. 
  6. ^ Siemionow, Maria Z. (19 March 2010). Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Springer. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-84882-512-3. Retrieved 2 November 2012.