Face Value: Left Side, Right Side, Good Side, Bad Side

by Larry Hehn on November 25, 2010

mirror guyTake a close look at yourself in a photograph or in the mirror, and you will likely notice that you are not symmetrical. All of us have differences between the left and right half of our faces and bodies, though some may be quite subtle.

For me, some of the differences are easy to spot. I have a tattoo on my left shoulder blade. My head is always tilted slightly to the right (the result of an old hockey injury). My nose was broken in a bizarre high-jumping accident back in high school (please don’t ask), so it curves and points slightly to the left of my face. Although I am right-handed, the left half of my upper body is noticeably more muscular than my right, especially around my neck and shoulders.

Have you ever heard someone ask a photographer to capture their “good side” when taking pictures? Well, my “good side” is my left. Though I’m grateful for both halves of my body, I prefer the looks of my left over my right. Just for fun I took a picture of myself, divided my face down the middle, and mirrored the images to see the difference. The results were downright freaky, as you can see below.

mirror mirror

On your left is the right half of my face, mirrored. In the middle is my real face. On your right is the left half of my face, mirrored.

Up until I created these pictures, I hadn’t realized what a huge difference there is between one half of my face and the other. Of course, the lighting helps. But look at the contrast! The left half of my face looks stronger, healthier, happier, more positive. The right half of my face looks weaker, less healthy, less happy, less upbeat. Both halves are my face. Both live together, side by side. But both are very different.

Isn’t it funny how it even shows up in our face?

We all have a strong side and a weak side.

A healthy side and a not-so-healthy side.

A bright side and a dark side.

A “good” side and a “bad” side.

We are a unique blend of both.

The important question is…which one do we tend to favor?

Which side are you on?

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

bill (cycleguy) November 25, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Great post Larry. Sort of reminds me of Paul’s words in Romans 7 about being two people. But I am also still trying to figure out how you did that picture thing. That is so cool! :P
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Larry Hehn November 25, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Thanks, Bill. There’s probably an easier way to do it, but I used a combination of Microsoft Office Picture Manager and Paint to come up with those portraits. Yes, I was thinking of Romans 7 too – good call! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

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KATE November 27, 2010 at 3:41 am

I will obviously choose the happier and the healthier side ! Yes it’s quite weird how the two sides differ from each other.
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Larry Hehn November 27, 2010 at 11:04 am

That’s the spirit, Kate. Stick to the good side as much as you can! I’m amazed in hindsight how often I have drifted the other way in my life, whether accidentally or intentional. It’s always good to remember that we have a choice.

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Dan Joubert November 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

This was not only a brilliant observation but the differences were very well illustrated, regardless of how you pieced the two halves together. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be that much difference but there certainly is when you combine the two sides.

So would the moral to the story be that we are all two-faced? My assumption is that we all are, some more than others and a few much more than we’d like…LOL

Thanks Larry for an interesting read…
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Larry Hehn November 29, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Your question just reminded me of one of my favorite quotes from Abraham Lincoln, “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” Thanks for your kind words, Dan!

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mo November 29, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Your left side could beat your right side up!
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Larry Hehn November 29, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Sure looks that way, doesn’t it? Thankfully my left side is pretty easygoing, as long as there’s plenty of food.

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mo November 30, 2010 at 12:10 pm

I was gonna say….

but then I decided against it :)
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Jim F. December 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

Sorry about not being by to read but things have been crazy busy.

The two sides make up who I am but the changes in who I am need to be need to come from the bright side. Working on that!

This is an excellent post – it is creative and full of truth. Thanks for sharing it!
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Larry Hehn December 4, 2010 at 2:42 pm

No worries, Jim. I’ve been off the grid for a few days too. Always great to hear from you! Thanks for your kind words.

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laura December 4, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Now, that is just a little bit freaky.

But I guess I should be freaked out by the knowledge of the different sides of myself. Should help me prepare for the struggle that my flesh wages against my faith. This is a very thought-provoking post.

How in the world did you make those images of your face those three different ways?
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Larry Hehn December 5, 2010 at 1:28 am

Yep, it’s often hard to acknowledge the less appealing side of ourselves, but we all have one. As difficult and painful as it may be, we really can’t begin to work on it until we learn to recognize it.

The middle image is the original photo. I copied it, split it as close to the middle as I could, then saved both halves separately. Then I copied those, mirrored the images and saved those separately. Finally I did a lot of inserting and pasting to get them all together. It was a great learning experience!

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David Rupert December 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

Interesting perspective! Makes you wonder, “Which me do i like?”

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Larry Hehn December 6, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Exactly! I was reminded of that when I watched the movie Megamind with my family last week. Thanks, David!

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Peter Graham December 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Hey Larry, great post! Got a little behind in reading them the last few weeks, and just had fun catching up.

I found out about my dissimilar sides when I finished teacher’s college. It was one of those times we have in our lives, when we get to slow down and see what’s going on for a few minutes. I got my graduation picture and took a good long look. Then I went and questioned my family. Seems I had been trimming my beard lower on one cheek than the other. I remember being in grade 7 and having classmates ask me why I only shaved on side of my face, when in reality I hadn’t shaved either side – I was putting that off for as long as I could!

I did the picture thing (easy in Photoshop) and found that I still do shave one side lower than the other. I seem to smile higher on the higher side as well. I always blamed it on the fact that my eyes are so very different from each other – that I simply can’t see one side of my face as well as the other in a mirror.

You bring up an interesting point in choosing to be on the good side. Reminds me of an old Billy Joel song. “Well we all have a face, that we hide away forever, and we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.” I’ve always seen that choice – to show that face or not, the choice between faith in God and in myself.

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Larry Hehn December 22, 2010 at 10:55 am

Ooh, The Stranger. I’d forgotten about that song. Good one. I’ll be whistling that for the rest of the day. Blue Man Group has a song along the same lines called Persona. Very haunting, both tunes.

Yep, it’s my hope and prayer that you always choose the good side. Even if the other side offers you cookies. Thanks, Peter!

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Dave January 9, 2011 at 8:54 am

Larry,

Good observation. I found your post while looking for a morphological basis for the left-right side differences in peoples’ faces – that is, if you take a sheet of paper and divide someone’s face in half (like you did), one side typically looks open and happy – the other scrutinizingly sinister. Could it be that our outward appearance is a function of left – right brain dominance? People differ on the R and L tendacy I described above.

The “science” of socionics (based on MBTI) claims that our preferences along the axes of introversion/extroversion, sensory/intuition, thinking/feeling, and perception/judging can be discerned from physical manifestations of our outward appearance – that our faces and shape of our head are kind of a burlap bag that conforms to the “convolutions of some relatively rigid internal cognitive bricks.

Other than a metaphor for a “good and bad side in all of us,” what other insights can we derive from your observations around facial hemispherical differences?

Regards,
Dave

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Larry Hehn January 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm

That’s very intriguing, Dave. I had never heard of socionics before. It does make sense to me that the way we are “wired” would affect our facial expression and body posture. It sounds like a fascinating field of study.

I once had dinner with a brain specialist, and could have listened to him for hours explaining some of the intricacies of how the human brain works. Though much of it is beyond my understanding, I still love to hear from people who have an infectious enthusiasm about things like that, and hopefully learn a few new things in the process.

I am reminded of the Abraham Lincoln quote, “Every man over forty is responsible for his face.” Perhaps he was on to something there!

I appreciate you taking the time to comment here, Dave. It certainly has expanded my thinking. Thanks!

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Steve December 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm

Thank you for this article. I personally have dealt with my left side being the strongest my entire life as well. My eye on the right side of my face is much weaker than my left. If I take a photo from my left side, it is much harder to notice than if I take a shot straight on or from the right side. I know where to stand in pics to cover this up.

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Larry Hehn December 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Yep, I always turn so my left side is facing the camera whenever staged photos are taken. Funny how that habit has developed. Thanks for sharing, Steve!

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Sulaiman Khan January 23, 2014 at 1:18 am

Hi Larry, I think I have the same problem as you. I was wondering if you have TMJ disorder? TMJ is a disorder of the jaw muscles.

I’ve had a imbalance in my facial muscles since a teenager and have never been able to figure out why until now. I think it is because of an imbalance in my jaw muscles where one side is favoured over the other. Apparently this can affect everything from facial muscles to hearing and even your eyesight.

Please let me know if you think you have any problems with the positioning of your jaw, do you hear any clicking when you open your mouth wide? Please let me know as it would help me a lot.

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Larry Hehn January 26, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Hi, Sulaiman. I had not heard of TMJD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) before. Fortunately, the imbalance in my face seems to be purely cosmetic. I do have hearing loss in my left ear, but that was caused by some life-saving antibiotics I was given as a young child. I’ve had no problems with my jaw or eyesight. I’m sorry to hear that your imbalance is giving you trouble. I hope and pray that you are able to find a means to minimize the effect of TMJD in your daily routine.

Blessings!

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