Per the looks-obsessed groups of incel-adjacent Reddit, attractiveness is something that’s in your bones. More specifically, your skull. On r/Vindicta, a subreddit dedicated to helping women “looksmax,” or achieve their maximum aesthetic attractiveness, one’s skull shape is the very foundation of whether they’re beautiful or not. Most women fall into two categories: those with angel skulls, and those with witch skulls. You can guess which one is preferred.
Skull shape is a component of “looks theory,” the foundational science (or rather, pseudoscience) that determines physical attractiveness. Some of its tenets are supported by research, like the idea that people with more symmetrical faces are generally perceived to be attractive. Others, like the angel versus witch skull dichotomy, are supported primarily by YouTube videos.
According to one, angel skulls are defined primarily by upturned noses, convex philtrums, projected chins and forward-grown jaws. The witch skull, conversely, is defined by hooked, downturned noses, flat philtrums and weak, recessed chins and jaws. Without much explanation as to why, the latter group of features is broadly deemed unattractive.
While basing attractiveness upon skull shape is problematic in itself, it also has a racist history. This is something that is occasionally addressed within the looksmaxing communities: One popular YouTube video on angel and witch skulls begins by detailing the origins of phrenology, the belief that skull shape determined psychological attributes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, phrenologists used the theory to support the myth that white Europeans were intellectually superior on the basis of their skull composition, whereas other races were physically predisposed to servitude.
The contemporary witch and angel skull debate distances itself from these early skull-theories (a person of any race can have an angel skull), though a hierarchy of attractiveness remains.
Further, much of the discourse on skulls emphasizes the idea that these features can largely be fixed with plastic surgery or “hardmaxing.” A commonly used example of a woman with an angel skull is Kylie Jenner, whose looks have largely been achieved through surgery and augmentation.
What is still missing from the conversation, however, is if there’s even any legitimacy to whether skull shape actually determines attractiveness. Skulls are indeed used to determine what someone may potentially have looked like, particularly in the field of anthropology. Still, our current perception of skull shapes is primarily cultural, especially as it’s demonstrated in r/Vindicta, where Western beauty aesthetics dominate.
Rather than being simply a strange niche within femcel culture, though, the angel versus witch skull theory serves better as an indictment of the standards of beauty many women feel confined by. It isn’t simply enough to have clear skin, symmetrical features or a grasp of how to use makeup. Instead, one must radiate an angelic quality right from their very skull, or prepare to spend thousands to do so.