I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Monday, September 04, 2006


"There's no words to describe it
In French or in English
Well, diamonds they fade
And flowers they bloom
And I'm telling you
These feelings won't go away
They've been knockin' me sideways"
by Santana and Citizen Cope

50% of the women on my Orkut list have their photos sideways. Okay not entirely sideways like a wine bottle, but definitely with a tilt corresponding to the earth's axis. Only 6% of the men on my list have the same issue. While the number of women in my list is much smaller than the number of men, leading to sample size problems, I think the finding is significant.

I seek to explore the reason behind this phenomenon. Light research (mostly focus group discussions over lunch) has revealed that the origins of this might actually be very ancient, starting with Mary Magdalene as photographed by Leonardo Da Vinci. Perhaps it was the time that Mary had to wait in the studio, or perhaps it was something else, but when Leonardo came in to the room, Mary had tilted her head in curious fashion. Later, this pose was misrepresented by fraudsters like Baigent, Leigh, Lincoln and Brown as half a chalice or something like that. Guess how many of the 12 men had their heads tilted? Only one. Which is as close as you can get to my Orkut ratio. Hence, the first theory is that women's head tilt in photographs as they (the necks) are not used to waiting for a long time for the photograph to be taken. Be it a few centuries (in Mary's case) or a few seconds, the woman has the right to determine what is a long time and tilt.

The second theory shared by a woman herself, connected to the first, is the weak neck muscles theory. This states that the muscles in a woman's neck are week, which results in the default tilt. Actually, the few moments in which the head is held upright are special and should be admired. The curious tilt is also the cause of another, graver problem - that of Men being from Mars and Women from Venus. The reason a man can't understand what a woman is saying (in about 50% of the cases) is because the accompanying nods are confusing. Is that tilted shake of the head a yes, or a no? Is there a third option "none of the above/ both"? What does one do with that option? As you can see, the tilt's effects are even more significant than its causes. Also, as an aside, the reason, the Mars sign is tilted, is so that a woman can see it straight. Whether you subscribe the weak neck muscle theory or not, you have to agree that the issue's with us since ancient times.

The third theory which comes from a photographer, is light in your face theory. This theory states that women are born with an innate sense of the way light bounces off solid structures (also known as modelling). The way light bounces of solid structures (cheekbones) can either create wonders or tragedy in the way they appear. If they are bouncing from the side or top, they highlight depth while if they are in your face, they hide depth. Unfortunately, most cameras bounce the light directly off the face, flooding each and every carefully crafted niche in the cheekbones. Hence, the need to tilt your face at an angle which will force the light to either hit it from the side or the top.

I think all of these theories have merit. However, I am not sure whether the list is comprehensive. Do let me know. Also, I would like to find out your opinion of whether this can be the basis of my research thesis.


Blogger silbil said...

very very insightful
just wondering if you have joined nazeem hakeem community

Monday, September 04, 2006 7:21:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you trying to understand why women do the things they do? Good luck.


Monday, September 04, 2006 9:20:00 PM

Blogger LAK said...

Thesis? You're halfway there already!Did you try asking the women why they do so? My theory: it makes the face look longer(hence, any chubbiness of cheeks is minimised)

Monday, September 04, 2006 11:38:00 PM

Blogger corporate whore said...

Maybe the men cracked the concept of 3D earlier than 2D oriented women. Maybe everything is not like Whistler's mother.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 1:41:00 AM

Blogger Primalsoup said...

How very insightful! Sideways is usually the most flattering. Fat women look thinner and thin women look better endowed. Win-win for all. Men ought to learn something from that.
Though, I always thought that nobody posted their real pictures on Orkut. Or that only very phoogenic people had Orkut profiles! :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 10:01:00 AM

Blogger Primalsoup said...


Tuesday, September 05, 2006 10:02:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Silbil, what is nazeem hakeem?

Dunbar, no, not really. That's too onerous.

Lak, that's probable, as well. But what about thin women doing the same?

Corp Whore, elaborate.

Primalsoup, why is this most flattering? Especially for thin women? But yes, men should learn. At the least, it will show that they have noticed that they are in touch with the feminine side.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 11:03:00 AM


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