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Celebrity Album: Second Sibling Syndrome

Left to right: Paris Hilton (born 1981) Claudia Schiffer (born 1970) Nicole Kidman (born 1967)

Can you match them with their younger siblings?

Do older children tend to have a different look than their younger siblings?

Birth order may affect our looks more than we realize. Quite often, the most photogenic member of the family is the oldest, as seen in the celebrity sibling pairs shown here. While not a universal rule, this principle bears investigation.

Left to right Nicky Hilton (born 1983) Antonia Kidman (born 1970) Carolin Ann Schiffer (born ??)

How Would You Characterize The Differences In Their Faces?

On close examination, younger siblings have quite a few differences in their features.

  • Narrower, with more closely spaced eyes
  • Eyebrows are less angular, more curved
  • Jawbones are shorter and the jaw angle is less prominent (This creates a crease or a wrinkle when they smile, rather than a dimple – at least when older. Nicky still has an adorable dimple.)
  • Cheekbones are lower and/or smaller
  • Lips are thinner

These differences can actually be formally analyzed, thanks to a plastic surgeon named Stephen J Marquardt. He has mathematically mapped out the features of celebrity faces and found that they correspond to a principle of symmetry known as the golden ratio, or phi. While the older siblings on this page would match the Marquardt mask quite closely, the younger siblings would deviate in the ways that I’ve described above.


Dr. Cate

With over two decades of clinical experience and expertise in genetic and biochemical research, Dr. Cate can help you to reverse metabolic disease and reshape your body.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. As I was reading this section of the book, I was glancing at my youngest child who was born within two years of his elder sibling. Physically, he has many of the hallmarks of the second child syndrome–he’s smaller, thinner, more frail; he’s also had many ailments which began in utero. And since my harping on his carb intake, he’s began taking steps to reduce it.

    I also teach at a high school in a rather impoverished rural farm area in California and have the opportunity to see daily the effects of poor pre-natal nutrition as well as very obvious second child syndrome on a daily basis (I’ve had students who had a sibling in each grade at the high school). It’s made for an interesting secondary study throughout my day.

  2. I am fascinated by “Second Sibling”. I guess “Irish Twins” could be affected by it big time. An Irish Twin is a child born less than a year after his/her sibling! I looked over some family group shots taken of my grandfather and his EIGHT siblings and I think I see the “second sibling” thing going on in that generation. The younger sons had the “funny looking kid” thing going….huge ears, less pronounced cheek bones than the older siblings, and small, narrow chins. I also see it in photos of the siblings of my great-grandmother(There were nine, but only four survived to adulthood). Would you be interested in seeing these photos? I also have photos of my g-g grandfather and his sister and brother……several generations of German immigrant farm families of Southern Illinois. Many of these families had children with an eighteen to twenty year age span between the oldest and youngest. Mom must be pretty tired by the time the last few are born!

  3. This is so interesting. I didn’t even think about my own situation the first time I read this. I’m the third of four children and the only girl. There were 3 years between #1 and #2, and 2 years between #2 and me, #3. ( and 2 1/2 years between me and #4.) However, there was also a miscarriage just before me, so it seems my parents were trying to grow their family too fast. I’ve had by far the most health problems, both mental and physical. In addition, I only got 2 weeks of breastfeeding, as my mom had her appendix out and the doctor made her dry up her milk because she would be taking antibiotics, I guess.

    On the other hand, or maybe because of this, I’m the one who has had a lifelong interest in (obsession with?) nutrition and health. I’m glad I found your book. Finding Weston A. Price and everything that led to, including Dr. Cate, has changed my life for the better.

  4. Hey!
    I am a french 22 years old master degree business student. One of my grandfather (mother side) has especially excellent facial bone structure, despite the fact that he was born during war. He is doing the same work as his parents did: farmer. To be honest, I am not sure of which kind of diet he had during childhood. From what my grandparents told me, I don’t know if they had good quality sourdough bread. But I think that they were using butter when cooking.
    Howewer, they often consume meat on the bone (they own rabbits and poultry) and my grandfather like all kinds of cheese (though he makes the mistake of not eating the best ones we have in France because of price considerations). Our family also have all kinds of fruit trees, a little garden, and raw milk from grass fed cow (but still, you can’t imagine how we poorly realized how rich we are!). Only my twin brother and me strictly follow optimal diet guidelines.

    About me, I am certainly not ugly but my face is less masculine than that of my grandfather. Since few years, I have an excellent diet (sourdough whole rye bread, raw milk butter, best quality raw milk cheese, whole rice from Camargue, french quinoa, eggs, organ meat, Irish salmon, vegetables and fruits, everything organic).
    During my childhood, as almost all children, I often consumed processed food but probably less than average.
    I am writing a book which summarize main health issues with both anthropoligical, modern-day science, political and economical dimensions. It is quite long and hard to make a good book when we are so young. Maybe it is a bit too ambitious. I have 180 scientific references and 90 pages (Times New Roman, 12) at the moment.

    1. I think in France most of your food is, overall, better than ours here in the U.S. Europe is much better about keeping the amount of genetic modification, pesticide use, etc. reduced compared to us. Too many food manufacturers here are paying a lot of money into politicians’ campaigns, and it strongly affects the politics of the food supply here. 🙁

  5. Rose
    Thanks for your interesting observations. I didn’t realize oleo was was that readily available back in the early 1900s. Was your grandmother on the East coast?

  6. This is really interesting. I’m the second (of 10) sibling, born 1 year and 3 days after my sister. She definitely has more pleasing face and body ratios. We were both born in the late 40s, so mother probably ate better than some today, but she was still a margarine user exclusively (in contrast to HER mother who shunned “oleo” margarine even though the family was pretty poor). My flaws: my head is small relative to my body, my jaw narrow and teeth crowded and a little crooked (not straightened) in a square-shaped face. I’ve also been slightly overweight all my life, in contrast to my sister who was quite svelt at least until middle age.
    I certainly don’t begrudge my sister nor blame my mother–she did what she thought was best, but it’s interesting to have an explanation for the differences.

  7. Anne
    Once your growth plates are closed (by adulthood, usually) the skeleton/bones cannot change shape significantly. However your bones still benefit from Deep Nutrition because they stay denser, stronger, and less likely to get that hump in the upper back with age. And all soft tissues benefit: skin, ligaments, tendons, hair, nails, and even the fat under the skin because, when combined with exercise, it will grow better supported with fibrous connective tissue an less likely to get all cellulitey.

  8. Hi Catherine Shanahan,
    I am a Danish woman who have only just purchased your book “Deep Nutrition” and as a consequence have started eating according to the four pillars.
    I realize that a person can change her/his health to the better eating these traditional foods, but I am a bit confused about which aesthetic changes one can expect.
    Is it possible to actually change facial bone structure (second sibling syndrome), bodily bone structure etc.? Will the proportions of the face/body change eventually when eating these foods, or is the beauty acquired by this nutrition limited to say better skin, hair, nails aso.
    In advance thanks for your reply.
    Kind regards

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