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Pandora's avatar

How is it our looks can change over the years and go from looking like one parent to completely looking like another?

Asked by Pandora (27578points) 3 months ago

I’ve noticed lately how many people looked identical to one parent as children and changed as adults to be identical to another parent.

I knew this little girl that looked nothing like her mom for many years. She looked exactly like dad. Even her baby pictures to teens looked like pictures of her dad at the same age. Nothing like mom. Then recently I’ve seen pictures of her grown, and she is the splitting image of her mom only of course a younger version. Though, funny enough, if you had a younger picture of mom at her current age, she looked different. So it made me wonder. Is it exactly genetics or is there something else at play?

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6 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

My sister was like that: looked like my mother’s sister and never resembled my father until suddenly, at about age 30, she did.

I think it’s a genetic timeline that causes certain traits to kick in at some point—weight gain, let’s say, or vision change, or arthritis, or how the shape of the face ages—that might not have shown up before. It makes sense to me that not all the traits you’re ever going to have are manifest at birth (even if there’s wiring for them) and that the timing of when they appear may have a hereditary component.

But I’m just theorizing. This isn’t my field of study.

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Patty_Melt's avatar

I can’t remember where I read it, could have been Fluther, but it is a thought.
What I read was, babies are born looking like their dads so they will accept their own offspring. Eventually they mature, and look like their mother, or not.

Pandora's avatar

@Patty_Melt I remember reading that in an article so I may have mentioned it here. But usually that trait is short lived. Most people tend to favor one parent or another by their teen years. But I have noticed that it seems to also apply at a later day.
@Jeruba It’s a good as theory as any. I can see how the shift in our faces as we age can maybe make us look like a parent or vise-versa. Like the mom and daughter I mentioned. The mom’s face has actually filled out more and her daughters face is fuller. She has another daughter who looked like her but her really unhealthy lifestyle has changed how she looks and she no longer looks like her mom.

JLeslie's avatar

This is my thoughts on the topic:

If one parent has a rounder face than the other, the young child is more likely to look like the round faced parent, and then as the child ages, if their face becomes more angular he changes over to the other parent. If their face stays fairly round they countinue looking like the rounder faced parent.

If the child mimics the facial expressions of one parent more, they will begin to look like that parent. I think facial expressions over time build up certain facial muscles, and change the face slightly. Just a few millimeters of more muscle on the face around the eyes, or cheeks, or whatever is being worked harder will change characteristics. That’s my theory anyway.

Plus, a person’s weight affects their face shape a little.

Also, It is only millimeters that make us look different from each other, so it’s not very surprising that we see very minor changes as a whole new face, and children do have the genes of both parents. Think about it, wide set eyes and narrow set, what’s the difference? Maybe an inch between the most extremes. Large nose or button nose? The actual measure isn’t that great, but still produces a very different face.

Coloring sometimes clouds our judgement too. I have a friend who is half Chinese, looks Chinese more than anything, darker skin, straight off-black hair, and she is married to a European white American, and of their four kids the one who looks most like her is her very blonde, white, daughter. She’s beautiful. She has one son with her coloring, and he looks most like her side of the family, but the blonde daughter looks more like her. With all of her kids I assume they will change who their looks favor over time, because their parents look so different from each other.

Even my own husband, his parents look completely different, while some parents look like they could be siblings. When they look so different the combination on the children is always interesting to see.

LadyMarissa's avatar

I favored my dad until I was around 10. At that point I began to favor my Mother’s sister. That lasted until I was around 25. That’s when I looked a lot like my Mother at that same age. The why I never understood; but, it gave me comfort that I was living with my real family!!! Somewhere around 40 I began to look like my Mother’s Mother. Then at 55 I reverted to looking more like my Mother. Now I look like both my Mother & my Grandmother depending on how my day is going. I had noticed before she passed that my Mother was strongly favoring her Mother; so my look can be me favoring my Mother who looked a lot like her Mother…hence I look like both my Mother & my Grandmother on the same day!!!

Now, the Aunt that I favored from 10–25 grew up favoring her Mother & ended up looking more like her Dad. I never seemed to favor my Granddad during any of my lifetime. Two of my cousins had that distinction!!!

My Dad’s parents had died when he was 6 or 7 so I had no reference point to see any similarities with his family.

The one thing I did notice was that married couples who were together for a long time actually began to favor each other. My Mom & Dad flipped flopped between looking a lot like the other. I guess their mannerisms became intertwined.

My Dad used to tell my brother when he found a new girlfriend that he needed to look at her Mother in order to know what she’d look like in 20–30 years. I thought that to be an old wives tale; but, I have noticed it to be more prevalent that i originally thought!!!

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