When you pass by a mirror, do you recoil at your wrinkles, scowl at your sun spots, hem and haw over your hair, fixate on your flab, and cringe at the cottage cheese under your skin? Or do you smile at your smile lines and wrap your jiggly arms around your beautiful body? A new book by Dr. Robert Tornambe- The Beauty Quotient Formula- aims to teach you how to identify with the latter image, turning that natural urge to frown upside down.

Let’s face it- we all have a tendency to find fault with ourselves, and most of us have probably gotten a wee bit preoccupied with the aging process. Why else would a site like Truth in Aging appeal to so many people? Classic beauty is typically defined in terms of symmetry. Western ideals find perfection in features like large eyes, distinct cheekbones, full lips, round breasts, an oval face, a small nose, and an hourglass figure. The Beauty Quotient turns this anatomical archetype on its head, emphasizing uniqueness over uniformity.

According to The Beauty Quotient Formula, perfection is entirely subjective. Changing facial features to conform to certain popular notions of beauty (a la cosmetic surgery) detracts from an individual’s individuality. Beyond physical appearance, personality, attitude, and style all play a role in a person’s overall BQ. You can asses your own score for three different sections- Genetic Destiny, Current Habits, and Style- determining where your strengths and weaknesses lie on the BQ spectrum. You don’t even need to buy the book – the full (75-question) quiz is available on its website.

My personal grades proved to be lower than expected. In the interest of full disclosure:

* Genetic Destiny: 98 (out of 160)

* Current Habits: 132 (out of 210)

* Style: 112 (out of 160)

What had me stumped once I reviewed my answers was how I could realistically raise my scores. The BQ measurement is meant to function as a work in progress. I can understand making minor adjustments to lifestyle choices, but how can you make so-called progress on features that are part of your genetic makeup? I had marked every question with the most honest, appropriate selection from the multiple-choice responses. Yes, my skin is dry and my hands are veiny. These facts of life (which don’t necessarily bother me) are certainly not going to diminish as I age; they will more likely worsen. So how am I supposed to boost my BQ…without lying to the test?

The beauty quotient runs into the same hurdles as the much-debated emotional intelligence quotient (EQ), since there is no standard against which beauty can be measured. An EQ test may give insight into an individual’s personality and psychology, but it can’t definitively predict future social performance. Likewise, the BQ quiz has a long way to go before it can effectively evaluate the healthiness of a person’s self-image. Despite the shortcomings of this self-evaluation tool, the book offers up other nuggets of knowledge that are actually worth a good read.

In chapter two, The Beauty Quotient Formula puts forth 10 Commandments to incorporate into your daily life. Living by these tenets is meant to automatically make you feel more satisfied in your own skin. From “own your beauty” (#1) to “don’t compare yourself to others (#7) to “count your blessings” (#10), the BQ principles to live by are fairly basic. You’ve probably heard them before, if not from your own mother, than from a media figure like Dr. Phil or Tyra Banks. You’ve heard that confidence trumps cleavage when it comes to sexiness, and that personality beats perfect skin. The question is, how do you set your priorities straight when it comes to personal fulfillment in the beauty department?

The best take-away from the BQ’s condensed list of beauty rules is to embrace your genetic destiny (meaning the intrinsic mix of physical qualities, quirks, and curves you were born with) and to accentuate it. Putting your best features first is an easy change everyone can make without actually changing a thing. This concept also crops up in the BQ’s age commandment, which says that thou shalt heed your age and experience. If you live with zest and acknowledge the wisdom of your years, you’ll only be as old as you feel.

The BQ advocates a full lifestyle reevaluation and gradual transformation. Beyond tried-and-true beauty tips like managing stress and wearing sunscreen, the book doesn’t offer many tangible specifics (unless you count an endorsement for Dr. T’s Ageless Revolution product). There are no quick fixes that have lasting power. So, if you want to trim down your love handles, exercise and diet adjustments will go much farther than liposuction. If you find yourself stuck in a beauty rut, it’s time to start tweaking your hairstyle, wardrobe, or skincare regimen – without going overboard in any one area. True beauty draws equally from personal expression and outward appearance. Being so hung up on the sagging chicken wings at your sides that you avoid all sleeveless social situations would, theoretically, drag your BQ score way down.

Now that we’ve nailed down the bulk of the BQ, it’s time to decide whether we can put its principles to use in our everyday lives. Are its commandments practical amid a multi-billion dollar beauty industry and culture of a instant gratification? Can a more positive outlook on beauty really be taught in a book? The Beauty Quotient Formula is no substitute for your therapist’s couch. Unfortunately, many of the glass-half-full recommendations in the book would require more than a quick read to alter your innate attitude. Although you might feel inspired to shake up your beauty routine after reading the book, you probably won’t experience any life-altering revelations the next time you look in a mirror – at least not overnight.

Bottom line: The book makes a solid case for sensible, healthy living. You won’t find the secret to a flat tummy or smooth skin. You’ll need to look elsewhere for the right hair loss treatment or wrinkle antidote. And you definitely won’t find any plastic surgery recommendations here. Which is ironic, considering the book was written by a plastic surgeon. But this fact uncovers the essence of the BQ: Surgery is not the way to timeless beauty.

No matter how much you may want to change something about yourself, you are capable of embracing – and enhancing – your intrinsic strengths. You don’t need to undergo a drastic makeover to enhance your personal style and overcome your social anxieties. Though it may not supply ground-breaking solutions for each of your beauty conundrums, looking through the lens of the BQ will point you toward a rosy outlook on life. All in all, The Beauty Quotient Formula puts a positive spin on personal improvement for anyone suffering from a shortage of self-confidence.