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Old 2009-08-15, 11:44   Link #111
Feeling comfy
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 44
Originally Posted by Cipher View Post
Supermodels(today) are visibly unhealthy, (an evolutionary sytemized trait you say repels men) and yet they're portrayed in magazines in a different way. How do you explain this?
Read the essay I linked. The author gives a fairly convincing explanation for this apparently odd mismatch between "beauty" and evolutionary instinct.

Here's the specific quote that directly answers your question:
"This is not to say that some of our culturally-based preferences are completely arbitrary; at times, the current era's preferences in a mate reflect important concerns. For instance, we find that in cultures during times of famine or even less severe need (but need, nonetheless) that the ideal standard of beauty for women is a much larger body size. Larger size and more body fat reflect status; it means she is well fed and healthy during a time when thinness would reflect malnutrition.

"However, during times of plenty, (like here in America), plumpness is not a reflection of status. Likewise, during eras in which lower-class labourers toiled predominantly outside for hours a day, tanned skin was an indication of lower status, and therefore the ideal standard of female beauty was very pale skin; women during those times actually used white powdered cosmetics to exaggerate the paleness of their skin. Now, however, tanness is a reflection of leisure time (and higher status), so women strive for darker skin tones."
As for the supposed evolutionary preferences for symmetry and clear skin, I'm not sure how much weight we can put on those observations. After all, despite these observations, the evidence clearly shows that cultural and media influences matter a great deal more when it comes to how we perceive beauty. While it's possible that instincts compel us to look out for these traits, cultural and media influences add another layer to how we perceive "health" and "fertility", so it's impossible, really, to tell where instincts end and conditioned behaviour begins.

In other words, our idea of "beauty" comes from both nature and nurture, just like most of our other beliefs. There is no universal standard, and probably never will be, unless we somehow develop the so-called "monoculture" (highly improbable) I referred to earlier.

And, as many people here have already pointed out, physical beauty alone does not determine who you're attracted to. First impressions count, yes, but after that, everything else about that person — his or her personality, thoughts and behaviour — will determine whether or not you like him or her.
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