|It's 2011: The new archetype of beauty... she has inner beauty|
Men like blond bombshells (and women want to look like them)
Long before TV—in 15th- and 16th- century Italy, and possibly two millennia ago—women were dying their hair blond. A recent study shows that in Iran, where exposure to Western media and culture is limited, women are actually more concerned with their body image, and want to lose more weight, than their American counterparts. It is difficult to ascribe the preferences and desires of women in 15th-century Italy and 21st-century Iran to socialization by media.
Women's desire to look like Barbie—young with small waist, large breasts, long blond hair, and blue eyes—is a direct, realistic, and sensible response to the desire of men to mate with women who look like her. There is evolutionary logic behind each of these features.
Men prefer young women in part because they tend to be healthier than older women. One accurate indicator of health is physical attractiveness; another is hair. Healthy women have lustrous, shiny hair, whereas the hair of sickly people loses its luster. Because hair grows slowly, shoulder-length hair reveals several years of a woman's health status.
Men also have a universal preference for women with a low waist-to-hip ratio. They are healthier and more fertile than other women; they have an easier time conceiving a child and do so at earlier ages because they have larger amounts of essential reproductive hormones. Thus men are unconsciously seeking healthier and more fertile women when they seek women with small waists.
Until very recently, it was a mystery to evolutionary psychology why men prefer women with large breasts, since the size of a woman's breasts has no relationship to her ability to lactate. But Harvard anthropologist Frank Marlowe contends that larger, and hence heavier, breasts sag more conspicuously with age than do smaller breasts. Thus they make it easier for men to judge a woman's age (and her reproductive value) by sight—suggesting why men find women with large breasts more attractive.
Alternatively, men may prefer women with large breasts for the same reason they prefer women with small waists. A new study of Polish women shows that women with large breasts and tight waists have the greatest fecundity, indicated by their levels of two reproductive hormones (estradiol and progesterone).
Blond hair is unique in that it changes dramatically with age. Typically, young girls with light blond hair become women with brown hair. Thus, men who prefer to mate with blond women are unconsciously attempting to mate with younger (and hence, on average, healthier and more fecund) women. It is no coincidence that blond hair evolved in Scandinavia and northern Europe, probably as an alternative means for women to advertise their youth, as their bodies were concealed under heavy clothing.
Women with blue eyes should not be any different from those with green or brown eyes. Yet preference for blue eyes seems both universal and undeniable—in males as well as females. One explanation is that the human pupil dilates when an individual is exposed to something that she likes. For instance, the pupils of women and infants (but not men) spontaneously dilate when they see babies. Pupil dilation is an honest indicator of interest and attraction. And the size of the pupil is easiest to determine in blue eyes. Blue-eyed people are considered attractive as potential mates because it is easiest to determine whether they are interested in us or not.
What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women. (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI: 27.0 vs. 26.9.) However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.
There are many biological and genetic differences between the races. However, such race differences usually exist in equal measure for both men and women. For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races. And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health). But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only black women are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive.
The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.
|Yuck! No one finds her attractive!|
More than 70 percent of professional athletes are African American, but you wouldn’t know it by reading the latest issue of Sport’s Illustrated’s much ballyhooed swimsuit issue.
The 184-page issue, the magazine’s most profitable, boasts 18 models, but only two are African American and you won’t see them until page 140.
The magazine is one of the industry’s top sellers, averaging more than one million newsstand sales along with 3.2 million issues that go out to subscribers.
Needless to say, getting into the pages of the coveted issue is a career maker, and models such as Brooklyn Decker, this year’s cover, and Bar Refaeli, 2009′s cover model, became household names after appearing in the magazine.
Sports Illustrated has been publishing the swimsuit issue continuously since 1964, and Tyra Banks has been the only African American model to grace the cover. She first appeared in 1996, but shared the cover with model Valeria Mazza, who is white.
No two models since then have shared a cover. All have been white. Only one other issue, 1994′s, featured multiple models. Kathy Ireland, Elle MacPherson and Rachel Hunter appeared together.
Tyra repeated on the cover solo in 1997, but the photo caused a controversy because of allegations that Banks’ hips were photoshopped to make her look slimmer.
A dearth of black models strutting the catwalks is a persistent issue in the fashion world and while the numbers have improved, there are still too few, fashion observers say.
At New York's semi-annual Fashion Week ending on Friday, many designers used two or three black models, in the more than 30 shows attended by Reuters reporters. Several only used one, and some had none. Most of the shows featured between 12 and 25 models.
Labels Tracy Reese, DKNY and Diane von Furstenberg displayed a high number of black models this season while others, such as Vivienne Tam, did not use any.
Too few industry types are following the lead of former Vogue editor Grace Mirabella, the first to use a black model on the magazine's cover, said Tim Gunn, creative director at Liz Claiborne and co-host of Bravo television's "Project Runway."
Some designers consider cultural and ethnic diversity on the runway, "but there are not enough," he said.
While the issue was once left to pioneering black models Iman and Naomi Campbell to note, attention has grown recently.
This year, Vogue Italia's first "Black Issue," with more than 20 black models, created worldwide buzz and sold out.
(In 2008, the five states with obesity rates of 30 percent or more were Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee.) Black children are more at peril of becoming obese than white children; black women are more than 50 percent more likely to be obese than white women. “At the current rate of increase,” epidemiologists noted in a recent article in Obesity, “it will take less than 30 years for all black women to become overweight or obese.”
The resulting piece of journalism -- and I use that word very loosely in this case -- is just as offensive as one might suspect. And the author's arguments turn out to have quite a few holes, not the least of which is that his "scientific analysis" of black women's inferior beauty is based on the opinions of unidentified "interviewers" and their entirely subjective standards of beauty.
Having some men in white coats rate the attractiveness of a handful of women on a scale of 1-5 resembles a glorified version of the game "hot or not", not some serious attempt at engaging the scientific method. Which raises the question: why were such racist views and stereotypes about black women's attractiveness ever treated as legitimate by a prominent psychology publication?
It's 2011, and questions about racial inferiority were settled ages ago. These days phrenology (a pseudoscience that once sought to establish black inferiority using measurements of the skull) is known better as the title of a classic Roots album than a credible scientific theory of racial essentialism. And in an age where the black community can claim the beauty and talent of gorgeous women like Beyoncé, Kerry Washington, Jill Scott, Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett Smith, Erykah Badu, and so many more, it's hard not to balk at ridiculous suggestions that we don't got it going on.