Saturday, January 16, 2010

On attraction.

Via Strings over at Pirate with a Permission Slip, I find that a bunch of people I don't normally read are all talking about the same thing.

I'm not real sure I get Holly's point, but that's my issue, not hers. In truth, I have a bad habit of only dimly taking notice of society's standards. Oh, I realize they exist. I just don't particularly care. In truth, like so much else, I suspect this whole ideal of female beauty is something we women inflict upon ourselves. (See my previous post on women's magazines.)

Take the issue of breast size. Holly has problems because shirts "that are cut to gracefully cover a belly are always also cut to display ginormous boobs." As a card-carrying member of the Ginormous Boobs Club, I want to know where she finds these shirts! It's long been my opinion that the "right" cup size is about a C, maybe a D--those of us with smaller breasts are encouraged to buy padded bras, those of us with larger are encouraged to purchase minimizers. This is undoubtedly something we women do to each other--though most men I know will express a preference, in reality as long as they think they'll get to see it nekkid, they won't complain.

And this is the crux of the issue of beauty standards, so far as I am concerned. I won't deny that they exist. I'll even agree that, in many ways, they probably have an evolutionary basis.


I look at the people around me, and I do not see a universal beauty standard. If, in general, our "type" is dictated by society, then those of us who fall outside that standard would have a hard time finding mates, and I don't see that. I don't see only porn-star-pretty women getting married. And, as much as personality probably is, in the end, the deciding factor, in reality there has to be at least an initial physical attraction nearly all of the time. Many of the commenters on the post at Atomic Nerds proffered a variation on "confidence is sexy" and I'll buy that, but on first meeting, how can you tell? There has to be something to spark physical attraction, and obviously we are all individualized enough to have our own opinions on what's attractive.

I suppose my stance on that is this: Society has standards. So what? They don't personally impact me, or anyone I know.

Which brings me to my next point. Type. Holly made this point:

Individual preference isn't the only problem with standards. The other problem is that it's really unhealthy to create the idea of the perfect mate in your head and then try to find humans who match. I didn't know that short blond men were sexy to me until I met Tommy. In fact I still don't know that they are--I just know that Tommy is, and I think a tall dark Tommy would appeal to me more than a short blond random guy. We don't live in a world of types but people.

Strings had this to say:

I've always laughed at folks who ask about "my type". Personally, my head always turns most with athletically built women (slender, small chest, LONG legs). And I've always had a thing for redheads. Usually end up with blondes, who are more on the "stacked" side (go figure).
I will agree that you shouldn't get too hung up on your "type". But I don't think that having a type is a bad thing. I'm never going to find a tall guy attractive, and there are plenty of guys out there who aren't going to find someone my size attractive, and I don't have a problem with that. (Nor, for the record, do I agree that there's any real reason to work to expand your idea of what you find attractive. What's the point?) And at any rate, as those two quotes illustrate, most folks' type is malleable as hell anyway. We had a discussion of type on one of the message boards I belong to not long ago, and at least half of the women, if not more, said they weren't their husband's "type." Plenty of the participants said the same about their husbands.

Strings brings us the money quote here: Folks, "attractiveness" is more a function of chemistry between two people.

Now, this is something I can get behind wholeheartedly. There are a lot of men out there whom I appreciate on sheer aesthetics. Doesn't mean I wanna boink 'em.


Anonymous said...

The nice thing about getting older is that the content becomes more important than the wrapper.


BobG said...

"Folks, "attractiveness" is more a function of chemistry between two people."

I agree with that; I've been married for over 36 years, and my wife still looks just as beautiful and attractive to me as when she was younger.

Strings said...

Wow... I got linked! :D

I've come to the conclusion, after much soul-searching, that my real "type" is "innie": "outie" doesn't do anything for me. Beyond that though... ;)