Tag Archives: men

A Lust for Beauty

Part 2 of Chapter 10 of the book Looks

There is little stigma attached to improving one’s looks with a doctor’s help. Small, specialized clinics have sprung up, and most of the people who go to these clinics are pleased with what they get.

A waiting room at the Florida Center

A waiting room at the Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat

However, many who have spent the big bucks to make themselves prettier do regret this. Melanie, 41 years old, was desperate for bigger breasts. She scrimped and saved, finally putting her car as security for a loan. As Boca Raton News reported, she doesn’t love what she got. One breast is over a full cup size larger than the other. Melanie also suffers from sharp, chronic pains in her left breasts. Allegedly a nurse stabbed her with scissors during stitch removal. This caused unbearable pain. Along with 22 others, she sued the clinic she went to: the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery. 

Another of those that have pending cases with the center is Mona Alley. She lost both legs to infection when her intestine was punctured during a tummy tuck. After the procedure, she felt really sick. After 2 weeks of the doctor saying that Alley would be fine, he found pockets of air in her abdomen, water in her lungs, and blood clots in her legs. According to Alley’s lawyer, the doctor had cut her intestines accidentally. Her intestines then leaked feces into her abdomen.

operating_room2That’s not all. Between 1997-2004, at least 36 individuals died in Florida as a result of complications from cosmetic surgery.

Maybe it was bad luck, or not. These unfortunate people and others should have done their operations in a real hospital, not a clinic of doctor’s office. Between 1994-1998, 20 out of 100,000 died after lipo at a clinic. That’s a higher death rate than for people in motor vehicle accidents.

Olivia Goldsmith

Olivia Goldsmith

Still, there’s the disturbing case of Olivia Goldsmith. A best-selling novelist, she checked into the expensive and well known Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat. She wanted a chin tuck to remove some loose skin under her chin.

Goldsmith had gone on several surgeries before to improve her appearance, so this was nothing new. Even the characters in her novels had plastic surgery and popped Botox often. “If there was anyone who should have understood the risks–and perhaps the futility–of burnishing one’s outside when one feels ugly inside, it was Olivia Goldsmith.”

For some reason, Goldsmith chose general anesthesia instead of the less risky local anesthesia. However, problems started even before the surgeon picked up his knife. Goldsmith had convulsive spasms, then slipped into a coma. She never regained consciousness and died 8 days later.

She was 55 years old.

The medical examiner concluded that Goldsmith’s death was due to anesthesia issues. The staff had failed to monitor her respiration and carbon dioxide levels.

The day after her death, another patient at the same hospital died of complications from anesthesia. The hospital was fined.

Even bad things can happen at big hospitals.

StellaObasanjo

Stella Obasanjo

Americans who can’t afford places like Manhattan may go to Spain, which has the largest number of plastic surgeons per capita in Europe. They have performed over 350,000 procedures, trailing only Brazil and the States. Their clinics attract Arab potentates and world dignitaries. An example is Stella Obasanjo, the wife of Nigeria’s president. She died during her tummy tuck. 

Gregorio Nosovsky’s business cards identify him as an MD. However, he never finished medical school or got his degree. Nosovsky has appeared on TV talk shows as a medical expert. He and his brother Isaac, who does have a medical license, performed lots of procedures and made a lot of money.

Nosovsky was arrested after a woman told authorities that she had suffered complications after breast surgery done by Gregorio. Isaac tried to fix the problems, but he only made things worse. After this was reported, 35 more came out with similar stories.

What about the people who spend and spend on surgery and look like monsters? They’re still somehow under the delusion that more surgery will fix things.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson: It just gets worse and worse

The most famous example is Michael Jackson. Rumor has it that he has had surgery more than a dozen times. (Probably true, too.) The results were grotesque. (WHY? WHY??) Dermatologists think that he might have had Botox in his forehead and cosmetic surgery on his nose, eyes, and chin. He might have been injected with some unlawful compound to lighten his skin, and has tattooed eyebrows and eyeliner.

My grandma has tattooed eyebrows and eyeliner because she wanted to save time on her lengthy beauty regimen every morning. She wears heavy makeup, and she wanted the make up look without having to spend any more time on it. The poor guy kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to, and he was scared, but she was set on being beautiful and saving time, so she had it done.

Cindy Jackson: the living Barbie

Cindy Jackson: the living Barbie

There’s also Cindy Jackson, no relation to Michael. She wrote an autobiography called Living Doll. Jackson felt that her appearance was lacking. After inheriting some money, she had the procedures. After nine, Jackson looked like the Barbie doll she’d always wanted to look like. By now she’s had 28 operations, and her transformation, she says, is nearly complete.

*feels nauseous* 

28 operations is too much. What do you think?

barbie_big

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A Beautiful Disaster

Chapter 9 of the book Looks

File0444Have you ever seen the billboards by the side of the road glorifying a sculpted male body? Or the covers of Men’s Health magazine… or the washboard abs perfume by Abercrombie and Fitch… or the steroid pumping body builders…

Men have their own set of problems. These are termed the Adonis Complex. Due to the slew of idealized male physiques everywhere they look, many men are insecure about their appearance.

Harrison J. Pople, Jr. and Roberto Olivardia of Harvard Medical and Katherine A. Phillips of Brown studied anything from action figure toys to Playgirl spreads to body builders and concluded that the U.S. media presentation of the male ideal is a very very muscular body.

Our very own GI Joe

Our very own GI Joe

It started with our familiar G. I. Joe. These researchers noted that the action figure in 1964 was unremarkable. Sure, he was trim and athletic, but rather ordinary in that respect. By 1991, he became pumped up like a body builder. Sadly, this also happened with the Star Wars action figures of Han and Luke. In 1978, they appeared unexceptional but trim. In 1995, they appeared to have been drinking a morning cup of steroids with their breakfast cereal. As a Star Wars fan, I was horrified to hear about this development. What’s next, bulked up Wicket?

15-20 years back, if you wanted a current issue of a fitness or body building magazine, you would have to live in the big city. Even so, you were limited to two or three publications. Now, just run down to the nearest convenience store and you’re bound to find at least five. As any freelance writer for magazines will tell you, fitness and health are big topics nowadays. People want to read about how to get healthy, but they also want to read about how to gain muscle. As a result, this is the holy grail of freelance writers. 

abercrombie-billboardWhat about the billboards? This Abercrombie and Fitch billboard is an excellent example of what you might find.

Dr Patzer says,

Buy a copy of almost any general-interest magazine and you are treated to bare male chests, rippling muscles, and tanned, chiseled, hairless forms.

Don’t forget the romance novel covers! Some time ago I published something mocking this trend. You may find it here. You’ll see that shaved pits really are the way to go.

 

 

 

Rich Herrerra, a male model for Cosmo

Rich Herrera, a male model for Cosmo

 

 

Cosmopolitan magazine is one of those magazines that seem to be mainly about sex from their front covers. They offer tips on how to do it right, how to get good results, and how to get a good man. They also illustrate their articles with pictures. All the male models are happy,  hairless, and naked.

They are also buff. Pope and his colleagues found that the number of naked males in Glamour and Cosmo had tripled from less than 10% in the 60s.

dumbbellsAlong with these findings, Pope and his researchers interviewed men suffering from what they call “muscle dysmorphia,” which is sort of like “reverse anorexia.” While an anorexic girl looks at herself in the mirror and sees fat even though she is shrinking, a male with this disorder looks at himself  and says, “Not buff enough,” even though he may have muscles where no man should have muscles. A fellow whom they called “Kevin” believed his own arms were sticks even though his body bulged with muscles in strange places. He became a near recluse because of this disorder.

These three researchers concluded that American men are being manipulated. They are exposed to more supermuscular images, all in service to diet aids, fitness programs, hair-growth remedies, and anything in between. These industries prey on men’s insecurities, and can be compared to how women are being preyed upon by the media.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an intense preoccupation with an imagined or slight defect in one’s appearance. It seems to arrive during adolescence or young adulthood. It may also coexist with other conditions, like social anxiety or OCD. The only effective course is psychiatric or psychological counseling, along with anxiety medications.

Those with this disorder are only a small fraction of the population, but millions more devote an inordinate slice of their time to worrying about appearance, notes Dr. Patzer.

LS015824Barbara L. Frederickson of the University of Michigan did two experiments to document the psychological costs of raising girls in a culture lik eours.

One study revealed that what a woman wears can heighten her preoccupation with how her body looks. This is at the expense of her mental performance skills. It’s not just low-cut dresses or bikinis that may cause this preoccupation. Any clothes or circumstances that make her feel self-conscious have this power. It reduces the mental energy that she could use to solve calculus.

evening-20dressAccording to this researcher and social psychologist Tomi-Ann Roberts, the tendency to value physical appeal and sex appeal as body identity rather than their health, strength, energy, etc leads to more than an eating disorder or diminished mental performance. It could be linked to high prevalence of depression and sexual dysfunction among American women.

As we have seen, the mass media has had a huge effect on fostering attitudes about physical appeal. They’re enormously influential in governing what we say and feel about ourselves and our appearance.

From Kurt and Gladys Lang’s essay “The Mass Media and Voting”:

The mass media forces attention to certain issues. They build up public images of political figures. They are constantly presenting objects suggesting what individuals in the masses should think about, know about, have feelings about.

So my theory that we also listen to what the media tells us to do wasn’t so far off after all.

Dr. Patzer concludes that ill health offsets beauty benefits. However, people would be willing to sacrifice their health or money to improve their physical appearance.

As an anorexic acquaintance wrote on her blog, “I don’t care if this kills me. At least I’ll be beautiful.”

Pretty People over Important News

Part 3 (i think?) of Chapter 8 of the book Looks

The influence on views of physical attractiveness is by no means limited to advertising. TV has idealized images of manhood and womanhood, both in entertainment and in the news. 

TV as a mass medium was demonstrated in 1939. By 1945, it was publicly available. Like magazines, it used pretty young females to attract its viewers. They announced commercial breaks or delivered program information. Or they were simply ornaments that silently showed off products in game shows, much like today. Women were presented as glamourous objects.

Things haven’t changed much.

Days Of Our Lives: A popular daytime soap

Days Of Our Lives: A popular daytime soap

Every station’s schedule has feature films, TV movies, hour-long dramas, sitcoms, and reality TV. All of these feature beautiful actresses and handsome actors. The less attractive are delegated to supporting roles, like the bad guy. Only 12% are overweight.

Speaking of weight, that is the thing that is most noticeable in a TV performer. It’s extraordinary to have overweight actors or actresses. Dr. Gregory Touts, a professor of psychology, studies TV and its effects on us. He examined body weights for 37 central female characters, negative comments from males about their weights and bodies, and audience reactions. He found that thin people were overrepresented. The heavier female had more negative comments said about her or to her. This was also associated with the audience reactions or laughter. In earlier research, Fouts and a colleague found that the thinner the woman, the more positive comments she received.

Cast of As the World Turns, another popular soap

Cast of As the World Turns, another popular soap

What about men? Fouts did the same evaluations. He heard negative references like “You’re too fat to wear that in public,” as well as comments by the overweight character himself. “I need to diet.” He found that overweight males are under represented in sitcoms. It’s more acceptable, however, for men than women to be overweight on entertainment TV.

Regarding laughter, while most sitcoms are shot before a live audience, this audience is prepped by personnel. They’re encouraged to laugh at every punch line and cued to applaud on command. So what Fouts and his colleagues heard were not faithful expressions of how people really saw the show, but rather what the show’s producers wanted them to hear.

fox_newsWhat about TV news? You probably might have noticed that these men and women are garbed perfectly, with perfect makeup, teeth, and hair. They’re also trim, not fat, and good-looking on the whole. I also noticed that in Fox news, most of the females are blonde and blue-eyed, with fair skin.

Not only that, screen time is used to emphasize stories about attractive people.

Crime stories are always a big thing. Every year, people disappear, are murdered, or are raped. However, few of these stories can be mentioned on TV. 

pl_jonbenet_060817_ssv

JonBenet Ramsey

Consider the case of JonBenet Ramsey. She was a six year old who was entered in many beauty contests. She was exceptionally pretty. JonBenet was photographed and videotaped many times in high heels, adult makeup, and professionally styled hair.

She was murdered in 1996.

The media went nuts.

JonBenet

JonBenet

The crime was never solved, but even after 10 years, images of this first grader are still shown on TV. 

In December 2002, lovely Laci Peterson went missing. The story led broadcasts for days and days. This became a national event. Even I remember the headlines that continued months and months after the actual event. Magazines, gossip columns, and TV all talked about it. Her husband, a fertilizer salesman, was arrested and tried for her murder.

Jennifer Wilbanks

Jennifer Wilbanks

In April 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks was a runaway bride. She spun a wild tale of kidnapping and sexual assault. It was all untrue. She just had the jitters. This story was repeated for weeks and weeks. Why?

She was tall, thin, but curvy. She had big eyes and full lips. A lot of people thought that she was hot. I don’t.

Dozens of people disappear all the time. How many women are murdered every day? How many first graders are murdered or disappear? These cases all had one thing in common – the females were all beautiful.

Trond Andresen of the Norwegian Institute of Technology thinks it’s time for a change. He told a local newspaper in Norway that “journalists, photographers, and TV producers discriminate against the ugly and emphasize beautiful people whenever possible.”

Ugly people should be spotlighted in the media in the same way that the media wishes to emphasize persons from ethnic minorities.”

LACI

Laci Peterson

So what’s the harm in showing viewers attractive people?

First of all, when magazines or newspapers sell more advertising than expected, they can add pages with more editorial content and articles to balance this out. However, time is limited on TV. There’s no way to balance this out in TV news. There simply isn’t enough time. Even big programmers like CNN have to limit their news programming to about an hour a day.

It seems, says Dr. Patzer, that media companies are licensed to serve the public. However, what’s important is that their primary role is to choose what stories to tell, which not to air, which to follow up, and which to ignore. Nowadays, with the decrease in TV news viewership, news is regarded as being no different from entertainment. It has to earn its own way. Decisions are made by considering which stories would attract more viewers.

They are choosing now to air stories about people such as JonBenet, Laci Peterson, as well as celebrities like Paris Hilton. Meanwhile, important news are being ignored. Dr. Patzer had a list of important news that they skipped in favor of these stories.

crbs0691455From a journalist’s point of view, the role of news programs is to inform the public about what’s going on in the world around them, instead of running repetitive stories about attractive people. This is a shameful use of network time. Dr. Patzer agrees, saying that a democracy functions because when something goes wrong, the press brings it to the public’s attention so they can correct this problem at the ballot box.

Do TV news executives believe that audiences prefer watching good-looking people to learning important facts?

Les Moonves

Les Moonves

As it turns out, Les Moonves, the president and CEO of CBS, made it clear that he makes no distinction between news and entertainment programs. He told a New York Times reporter that if hiring an attractive woman to read the news while stripping would increase news viewership, he’d do it. Gladly. Because “his job is to give audiences what they want.”

The problem with this reasoning is that perhaps the audience doesn’t always know what they want. Instead, a lot of us might be waiting for the media to tell us what we want, and we’ll go along with it.

Spilled Pencils

Chapter 5, Part 2 of the book Looks

Studies show that physical attractive get better paying jobs in  higher positions than the less attractive. 

Whoa. How much more? Patzer cites a whole list of studies conducted in various countries that suggest that earnings are 7.5% to 15% more than the average looking.

This brings us to some questions. Is this discriminating against those physically attractively impaired? (Ok, that was a funny sentence.) Does hiring the good looking  hunk shell out the big bucks and increase productivity?

secretary

Secretary Barbie... probably 50 years ago

Various universities has analyzed this. With the assumption that all else is equal, in an industry with much interaction with clients, the firms with more attractive workers have a competitive advantage. 

Does beauty really bring success? What if success attracts beauty and not the other way around? Gerard A. Pfann, a researcher, found no evidence that success attracted beauty. Successful firms did not attract the better-looking to them. 

Pfann and his colleagues found that in Holland, the most successful firms employed managers whose beauty was greater than that of 90 out of 100 of Dutch ad executives. 

A 1999 study by Sara J. Solnick of the University of Miami and Maurice E. Schweitzer of the University of Pennsylvania found that those with physical attractiveness tend to have an advantage in bargaining situations. Business has a lot to do with bargaining. The good looking, this means, can bring their companies more for less. The message to businesses is clear. Don’t send an unattractive woman to negotiate on behalf of the firm, because she will not drive as hard a bargain as a more attractive woman or almost any man.

CSL2067Interestingly enough, those with much physical appeal suffer more than their less attractive coworkers when the boss is angry or upset. Professors and students at North Central College observed that attractive females are punished more harshly. Attractive males are punished the least. For the unattractive, gender made no difference. Maybe businesses have a love-hate relationship with beauty. Maybe the boss has ideas of fairness, or envy may cause ill will to smolder. In other words, this could be a backhanded recognition that physical attractiveness opens doors that remain closed to the average, less attractive person.

IS320-098Another study was done by a professor and a doctoral student at Hofstra University. They gave bank supervisors a memo describing a problem with a male or female employee portrayed as attractive, unattractive, or average. They asked the bank supervisor to assist them in disciplining this person. They found that some attractive people are viewed as failing because of a lack of effort, while the unattractive are seen as victims of bad luck.

Something to think about the next time you apply for a job, or find yourself interviewing someone for a job.

Secretaries and Good Equipment

Chapter 5 in the book Looks

My economic professor always said, “Do you know which secretaries in a company get a raise? The ones with the best equipment.”

3235284705_612a4e69c7We all laughed, because we knew what he meant.

No, not that type of equipment.

It turns out that he may have been right.

This is true if you’re competing for a position against candidates who seem to possess similar qualities, and you’re very attractive while they’re just average. If this is a job search, you’d get the job. But if the other person is more qualified than you, then you might not get the job, even if you’re very good looking. This theory of “hire-the-handsome” has been around for decades. People who work in big firms know about this, and are supposed to beware of hiring the person just because he’s hunkier.

Do they follow it?

Not really. Studies show that it’s the same as with the attractive students (other blog post somewhere). People still view the highly physically attractive person as more equipped to do his/her job.

death-by-cubicleAn article in the Journal of Applied Psychology stated that short men start any interview with immediate strikes against them, even when the hiring decision is being made by a manager with high experience. 

And sadly, I do remember an article which mentioned that some people do believe that getting breast implants can get them ahead at work. If this is true, then I see why they believe that.

Height is also related to income in some strange way. Economist Barry Harper concluded that both men and women who were unattractive or short experienced an earnings penalty. This is, in short, employer discrimination.

Professors Daniel M. Cable and Timothy A. Judge had evaluated data about this trend. They’ve noticed a clear linkage between physical height and career success.

Height flavors the way people dole out social esteem, invest in leadership, and rate performances.

These two professors examined the relationship between physical height and income. They suggest that tall people enjoy many advantages in careers. But why?

contemporary-home-office-furniture-739500They found that greater height boosted the subjective ratings of work performance. We’re talking about literally hundreds of dollars of earning advantage simply because the person is tall. The researchers wonder if being tall boosts self-confidence and thus improving performance. Who knows?

But looking at this, we realize that it’s hard for short or unattractive people to compete with taller, more attractive people. Simply looking different from the norm means a paycheck penalty.

A professor at the Tel Aviv University did yet another study between height, weight, and physical appeal of lawyers and their salaries. The data gathered suggests that thinner, heavier, and shorter were penalized with lower salaries and less important jobs. Less attractive women attorneys were less likely to get jobs that required face-to-face contact with clients. Face-to-face jobs were in fact the jobs that had the better pay.

TruckThe exception is when beautiful women compete for jobs that are traditionally associated with masculine qualities like strength, endurance, and exercising good judgement under pressure. For example, being a truck driver. Maybe it is because people view female physical attractiveness with femininity. Therefore an attractive woman would be viewed as less capable of meeting requirements for masculine qualities. This bias also extends to manager positions. If a highly attractive woman reaches a manager position, it’s viewed as luck. But if it’s an unattractive woman, then it’s because of her ability rather than anything else.

Sometimes merely being good looking isn’t enough to get a job with much public contact (better pay). Being youthful is also very important. A survey of men found that youthful appearance, like height, also affects salary and promotions. Two-thirds of the people surveyed said that they lost job opportunities because they looked too old. Three-fourths believed that looking younger gives job applicants a distinct advantage. It doesn’t help that a lot of job interviewers tend to be younger than the applicants screened.

20080326210140

Flight attendants working for China Airlines

Don’t forget flight attendants. In 2003, the management of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) announced that their female flight attendants must retire at the age of 40. The logic behind this is that “customers prefer to be served by young, demure, and pretty stewardesses.”

However, it’s important to note that MAS targets business travelers, whore are mostly male. Having pretty flight attendants gives the airline a competitive edge.

 

Malaysian Airlines plane

Malaysian Airlines plane

I suspect that China Airlines may does this as well. All their stewardesses are young and beautiful. When I go flying in Asia, I see their attendants (see left) filing into the plane. Every single one is young and beautiful, with perfect hair and makeup. But in Northwest Airlines, my airline of choice, the stewardesses seem to all be in their 40s or 50s. If they don’t have an age restriction, they probably look at the women and select the ones which are the most attractive.

There’s also the popular clothing retailer Abercrombie and Fitch. Some time ago, they were accused of promoting whites while relegating their dark-skinned, less attractive employees to the back of the store. And it does seem that their catalogs and advertising campaigns all utilize beautiful, young white people. 

An Abercrombie and Fitch shopping bag

An Abercrombie and Fitch shopping bag

It always struck me as funny that while Abercrombie and Fitch sells clothes, their models in their ads don’t wear much clothes. Look at the shopping bag to the left. You’ll probably see the shopping bag often. I have friends who shop at the store, and they reuse the bags for stuff… therefore exposing me to Mr. Muscles more often than I care.

Looks: Dating, Courtship, and Marriage

Gold and Platinum/Silver Rings - Reflected CandlesChapter 2: Part 1

Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Beauty is only skin deep.

These quotes are often thrown about in our society, presumably to encourage children to remember that beauty isn’t everything. However, Dr. Judith Langois has done studies that suggest that people do agree about who is and who isn’t attractive. Do we really never judge a book by its cover?

Dr. Patzer points out that good covers often influence our buying decisions. I know personally that this is true for me. I don’t like to buy books with ugly or distasteful covers. If a cover is really awful, no matter how good the story may be, then I won’t buy it. It can also influence the way I look at the story. If I see that a cover is awful, then I’ll unconsciously believe that the story is awful as well. Unjust, I know.

But this may be the same as how we look at other people.

Before, meeting was almost always face-to-face. However, in modern times, we have dating sites like eHarmony where you don’t meet the person face-to-face first. Patzer says that during the first half of 2003, American’s spent 214.3 million dollars on personal ads and online dating. Sites like Yahoo! Personals boast 12 million users worldwide. The novelist Jennifer Egan interviewed several online daters. 

Apparently, it’s like shopping. You fill out a profile that puts you in the best possible light. Then you have people check you out to see if you’re what they want or not. Egan found out that while shared values and goals are important, the factor in deciding whether to take the relationship a step further is the picture.

In fact, right now there are photographers who specialize in creating sexy personal profile pictures. Or you can do it yourself.

32_Moving on. Along the way new frontiers in personal and particularly sexual liberty were forged. Somewhere in the 1960’s, American standards of living increased. Mass media boomed, and the cosmetic industry blossomed. 

This led to something called the Coolidge effect. This meant that men were more excited by sexual novelty than females, as demonstrated by a series of rat experiments.

But really, human male behavior seemed to be impregnating as many different females as they could. It would increase the possibility that some children, at least, would survive long enough to reproduce… and so the world grows. Meanwhile, the female’s goal is quite different. Her role is to nurture the new life within her, and that’s why she looks for someone who can support her.

The major difference between the sexual strategies of men and women, then, is that women demand stability and commitment in a relationship, whereas men prefer variety.

 

This is one of the trends right now. Picture from bluefly.com

This is one of the trends right now. Picture from bluefly.com

Back to competition. If men prefer variety, then women have come up with ways to deal with that. Like the frequent change in trends. There’s also accessorizing with jewelry, scarves, and hats. Don’t forget getting a new hair style once every so often, and cosmetics.

But is this a conscious choice?

paris-hilton_portrait

It appears that it is. In a study, women who perceived themselves as sexually attractive showed a preference for clothes that men find exciting. Paris Hilton (on the right) is a good example of a person who is like this.

Another interesting thing is that when a guy is not as hunky as the guy in the Calvin Klein ads, he’ll compare himself to someone less attractive to boost his ego. This is called the contrast effect. It also influences self-esteem. So if you believe that thin is in, and you’re fat, then being exposed to pictures of people with the ideal body size (you think) can lead to depression.

This contrast effect is most relevant to women. Because in the dating world, thin really is in.

Browsing through personal ads reveals that women are more concerned about a prospective husband’s height. Men are concerned over a prospective mate’s weight. Two researchers, Lynn and Shurgot, have reported that a female’s height didn’t influence the responses she received. Those women who described themselves as slender received more replies. So did tall, dark haired males.

Women find men with moderately developed torsos to be the most attractive. Men with narrow waists and a broad chest and shoulders were rated as more attractive.

new-wolverine-home-pageBut if you’re not muscular, please do think facial hair. Female managers are found to consider bearded men to be more competent. I personally like clean shaven, but if Wolverine is your thing, who am I to argue?

There’s also the stereotype of a trophy wife. In choosing a mate, the age gap increases as men age. Because even with the beauty treatments and the anti-aging junk, physical appearance fades. Men want beautiful wives. 

However, status outweighs the effects of physical appearance in a woman’s selection of a partner. She desires financial stability. So would that mean that she’d choose an ugly man with a Rolex over handsome Henry working as a youth pastor and getting paid very little.

But what about choosing between a handsome jerk and a sensitive, average-looking fellow who has sincerity and kindness?

If a woman was looking for a serious relationship, then she’d get the nice guy. But if she wanted a casual relationship with no strings, she’d choose the handsome jerk. 

So handsome jerks get to sow a lot of wild oats, but nice guys get married, have children, live happily ever after?

lm-champagne-glassesNo.

Many researchers have noticed a disconnect between what women actually report, and what they actually DO. Researchers at Wesleyan and at University of South Carolina noted that the women would actually rather marry the handsome jerk.

Maybe this is because they’ve read too many romance novels. I personally have heard that the typical romance novel hero is something of a bad boy, until he meets the woman. He is angry at life and has had a sad and tragic childhood. Maybe his father was distant. Maybe his mother died when he was a baby and his father let him run wild. Maybe he answers every question with a sardonic laugh. Ha! And then he meets the woman, and his life is changed. Twu wuv, happy ending. 

Coming up, part 2 of this chapter!

Ancient Beauties

Looks: Chapter 1

I’ll be going through this book chapter by chapter and posting my thoughts about the contents. Enjoy! 

In this chapter, Dr. Patzer looks at how people in the past viewed beauty. He also mentions several notable beauties in ancient times. 

650px-helen_menelaus_louvre_g424The first one is Helen of Troy. Do you remember the legend? Paris was offered three things: wealth, power, or the most beautiful woman in the world. He chose the most beautiful women… over wealth and power. This woman’s beauty started a war. She was responsible for the deaths of many. However, her feelings and reactions are never described in any detail. I found this picture of a pot or vase on google… I believe she’s the one in the middle. 

I always wondered how she must have felt, if she was real. All we know about her is that she was beautiful. We don’t know if she was smart, witty, wise, spirited (well, maybe she had to be plenty spirited if she ran off with the hunk). 

Dr. Patzer states that to women in those times (and maybe now), she represented the power and potency of human beauty. Beauty that could start a war? Wow.

There’s also Sarah from the book of Genesis in the Bible. She was so beautiful, her husband Abraham was afraid that he’d start a war as well. So when he went to Egypt, he begged her to lie and say that she was his sister instead of his wife (chicken). Pharaoh admired her beauty so much that he gave her husband lots of moolah. The same thing happened to his son Isaac years later, but with Abimelech of the Philistines (I think), not Pharoah.

The writer says that “to the ancient Hebrews and Christians who followed in their… path, physical beauty was a reward from the Almighty, and its opposite was punishment.” He cites Ecclesiastes 8:1-10 in support. This is true, then and now, as wisdom and being assured of God’s grace does more for you than any anti-aging perfume. Sin and worry really does add lines to the face. Botox is not the solution, God is. You’ll look younger.

200px-venus_of_brassempouy1Patzer goes on to cite findings of Stone Age carvings which depicted women with braided/curled hair. An example is the Brassempouy lady on the right. He asks why primitive humans felt the need to compete for sexual attraction. 

The answer, Dr. Patzer goes on to say, is in the biology of sexual attraction. 

We as humans feel the unconscious need to reproduce. “A healthy, youthful appearance is attractive because it signifies reproductive capability.” Men want women to bear their children, which is why they would look to younger women. Women want men to support them, which is why women tend to learn towards older men with stable jobs.

However, not everyone looks like the perfect beauty. As a result, people worried that if they weren’t attractive enough, they wouldn’t get laid. This is true, even now. Competition ensues. 

0728peacock_07-28-2005_om53s60Like in the case of peacocks. 

It turns out that there’s general agreement about what is attractive. Look at the magazine covers! Dr. Patzer asks, “Is there an absolute standard?”

The Roman ideal was “absence of flaws.” (I forget who said it, I think it was Cicero.) It’s not the presence of attractive features. It’s not that nice nose that makes you attractive, it’s the absence of age spots due to airbrushing. This implies a standard of perfect beauty. And if you do look at some professional airbrushing sites, you’ll see that these sites tend to airbrush all the flaws away. Ugliness is measured by how far you depart from the standard.

Oops… very far.

What about bodily beauty? 

In several surveys, young men leaned toward hourglass shapes. Women with large breasts and hips and a small waist. Young women liked big, balanced, properly built men. 

It turns out that Dr. Peter Ellison in his article “Ecology, Reproduction, and the Human Evolution” found that the hourglass figure is the one designed best for motherhood. 

However, not everyone can look like Marilyn Monroe. Maybe there’s something else we women can try. 

A study done by Dr. Craig Roberts showed that a woman’s face is most alluring when she’s at the  peak of her fertility. 

womena6Which leads us to cosmetics. Remember the Egyptians with their elaborate hair, heavy makeup, and strong perfume? The picture to the right is an excellent example. (Those perfume cones are bigger than their heads!!!) Preparations were also used by both sexes to keep their skin smooth and young. According to the link (click on kohl) the Egyptians had the equivalent of rouge, lip-gloss, and nail polish. There was also kohl. It blackened the upper lid and lashes, sort of like eyeliner and mascara. Rouge was used to make their cheeks pink. White powder was also used to give them the appearance of fairness.

Dr. Patzer says that a woman does this because it more closely resembles the coloring that comes during ovulation.

nefertiti_berlinWhile we’re talking about beauty in ancient times, we should remember Nefertiti. Her name literally means “beautiful one.” We don’t know anything else about her, other than her beauty. We know she was the queen of one of the most notorious kings of Egypt… the king who changed the religion of Egypt and made the artists draw him and his wife AS THEY WERE. Which means showing him with a pot belly. Which we do know that he had. (He was a very sickly king.) As a matter of fact, we also know that he died early, leaving his wife and many daughters. There’s a theory going around which says that King Tut was his grandson.

But anyway. What happened to Nefertiti after her husband died is unknown.

But we’ll still remember her as one of the most beautiful women of her time.

Helen of Troy as well as the goddesses Aphrodite and Hera (even goddesses took advantage of cosmetics, apparently) wore dresses, veils, jewelry, etc to enhance their appearance. They usually ended up getting laid, too.

xin_330303080933384298495And let’s not forget Chinese women of the past. Beauty was important to them as well. There was the beautiful dancer Chao Fei-yen who caught the eye of an emperor. She and her more beautiful sister used their beauty as a sword against the guy and threw the palace into a power struggle.

From this article:

Like many women in Chinese literature who have the beauty of a delicate flower, our femme fatale also has great beauty. In the story of “Empress Chao Fei-Yen,” “her gait was so light that her graceful carriage, which was beyond imitation, was compared to the single stem of flower dangling in the grasp of a human hand” (307). But a delicate blossom she is not. She is scheming and lascivious, sleeping with many men in an attempt to have a baby she can pass off as the Emperor’s child to secure her position in the palace. She is jealous, resenting her sister who has won the Emperor’s favor. She is deceitful, lying to the Emperor of her pregnancy. She is threatening, bribing the Eunuch Wang to find her a baby to pass off as her own to cover up her false pregnancy. 

Empress Chao is not the only scheming one in this story. Her sister, Chao-Yi, proves to be a formidable opponent. More beautiful than her sister, Chao-Yi is also more ruthless and heartless. Suspecting her sister’s trickery, Chao-Yi also becomes suspicious of other women having the Emperor’s baby, and orders the baby of an attendant, as well as all pregnant maids, killed. In her madness, she kills the Emperor and then commits suicide. In this story, both femme fatales fell victim to their own evildoing.

They failed. And Confucians sought to promote dignity and virtue as better qualities than beauty. 

They failed, but they are still remembered as ladies who used their beauty to their best advantage. 

Dr. Patzer concludes this chapter by saying that the biological imperative to reproduce fuels this phenomenon. It should be no surprise that both men and women use beauty to their personal advantage.

After all, we’ve learned how to play the game very early in life.