Monday, April 25, 2011

The Science of Beauty (Part 2 of 2)

Nature is not exactly modest about playing favourites.


There are a lot of misconceptions about beauty. Many were propagated by people who are not beautiful, which is not surprising. The human mind is such that it is hard wired to develop the propensity to level the playing field — if only in one's mind. This function of the mind is the same function that would cause a drowning man to cling to a straw. As such, the following misconceptions were all produced by people who misunderstand beauty and (in most cases) come up with misconceptions that allow them to feel less cheated by randomness of nature:


Misconceptions of Cultural Preference

The occurrence of interracial unions prove that beauty isn't culturally defined.
The occurrence of interracial unions prove
that beauty isn't really culturally defined.
If you are one of those who say that beauty is a function of culture, you would be wrong. If you raise a child of one ethnicity in a community that is predominantly of another, that child is still far more likely to choose a genetically average (i.e. beautiful) member of the community as a mate.

If that child becomes aware of other humans outside of its community (by way of the media or travel for example) who have a more genetically average appearance than those living in the community in which it was raised, it is naturally going to develop an attraction for a specimen from that group, especially if the group shows any signs of genetic innovation (i.e. mutation).

This is why people are more likely to become engaged in interracial unions if they had lived in countries in which the majority of the population is not representative of their own ethnicity. The same principle applies for every race. Therefore, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder. The recognition of beauty is genetically determined. We can recognize a beautiful person even if we lived in a cave for decades and saw only unattractive people our entire lives. This is why some ancient cultures have been documented to worship people from exotic civilizations when they make first contact as they often feature genetically innovative phenotypes among them.

With that said, some will argue that each culture may have its own standard of what is uniquely perceived to be beautiful. While that is true, it doesn't mean that members of that culture are inextricably bound to those standards. Cultural standards were created in a box (so to speak) oblivious to the rest of the world. However, with the advent of the age of mass communication, external exposure often causes people to deviate from localized standards.

In fact, it has been proven that people who stick to their cultural dictation of beauty are doing so largely because of an instinctive psychological impetus to fulfil the need to belong which is more important to them than their capacity to recognize beauty in its purest form. You will find this manifested largely in various form of xenophobia primarily expressed as racial prejudice.

Misconceptions of Race & Cultural Indoctrination

CNN Anchor Soledat O'brien - "I don't think that being beautiful takes away from your credibility". Indeed, it shouldn't.
CNN Anchor Soledad O'brien - "I don't think that
being beautiful takes away from your credibility".
Some people are of the opinion that beauty is perceived by individuals based on their cultural indoctrination. This, they assert, is why women of non-Caucasian descent (particularly women of African descent) are "brain-washed" so to speak by the media to think that white women are more beautiful. This is far from the truth. This fallacy is based on an illusion of perception.

Television and other forms of media tend to feature people who are more genetically average in appearance - meaning (again) that they are more attractive. It does not matter whether they are Negro, Caucasian, Asian, Latino or of any other phenotype. The majority of Caucasian women who appear on television and in the media represent that law of average among Caucasians — meaning that they are notably more physically attractive than most other Caucasians from the gene pool and are thus much more likely to appear on Western television. The same rule applies to women of other phenotypes from other regions as well.

However, as television production is more commonplace among Caucasians in the west and in Europe, it is only natural that Caucasians would be more prominently featured. This however doesn't imply that the media has a predilection for Caucasians nor is it making a statement about the standard of beauty among women being determined by Caucasians. No single race has a monopoly on beauty. We all carry the genetic components to produce that effect. However, depending on our selected mates, we may either promote or prohibit the propagation of such genes in our offspring.

With the advent of globalization and the shrinking of the global village provided by the advent of the internet, there has been a notable drift towards this genetic average. Media outlets are beginning to recognize more people around the world outside of their own ethnic bubble who are also quite beautiful. This has inspired much greater diversification of television personnel.

On the news networks like CNN for example, news anchor women such as Soledad O'Brien are becoming more commonplace. She is of mixed ethnic descent, having one black and one white parent. Again, this is a perfect example of the law of genetic averages plays out on television; this time with no obvious show of racial preference that appeals to a much wider audience.

Misconceptions of Selection and Recognition

Beauty influences, but doesn't automatically determine selection as proven by the union between Kate Winslet & Same Mendes.
Beauty influences, but doesn't automatically
determine selection as proven by the union
between celebs Kate Winslet & Sam Mendes.
Some people would argue that beauty does not guarantee selection and is thus a frivolous or inconsequential factor in the selection of a mate. They think it represents a failure to recognize beauty's necessity. This is far from the truth.

Selection of a less genetically average phenotype says nothing about nature's failure to recognize beauty in its purest form. In fact, the distinction must be made that selection and recognition are mutually independent. So if someone selects a mate that is not particularly beautiful, it doesn't actually point to an inability to recognize beauty.

There are a number of factors to consider when evaluating selection. In addition to beauty, there are opportunistic and psychological proponents that affect selection. For example; less attractive people who encounter beautiful people are sometimes intimidated by them and are thus less likely to court and subsequently select one as a mate. So in this case, the function of selection has little to do with genetic recognition, and more to do with a psychological phenomenon called an "inferiority complex". Others select a mate based on economic or political factors.

In another example, people who have had to deal with the rather intense competition for the attention of someone who is beautiful, are less likely to select a beautiful person as a mate. Cognitive dissonance usually takes hold where they settle for someone less attractive. You can tell who these people are by their descriptions of their lovers as "diamonds in the rough".

People who have been repeatedly hurt psychologically by beautiful people are also less likely to select them as mates. People who simply resent beautiful people just because they are beautiful are also unlikely to select such a person as a mate. These conditions not uncommon. In fact, such individuals tend to be predictably unattractive or than average in appearance.

In each of these cases, all of the people in question can readily recognize beauty. What they do with that recognition however is really a function of circumstance. It doesn't nullify the necessity of being beautiful and it does not take away from its impact on the selection of a mate. In fact, such claims are hypocritical as they wouldn't turn away someone beautiful.

Misconceptions of Shallowness

On the flip side, many beautiful people also have a hard time finding a mate that is suitably mature and genuine — provided that they are willing to look that deep. If they aren't, then they could be termed as being shallow. This is not usually the case, however. More often than not, further investigation will usually reveal this as largely a function of choice management.

Beautiful people attract so many people that they usually have a lot more work to do with respect to narrowing down the selection in order to pick a mate. Beautiful people attract everyone — including mostly people who have characteristics that are undesirable (which is why some women say that "beauty is a curse"). Unattractive people by comparison tend to settle for physical mediocrity, since they do not get that much attention in the first place.

Now because beautiful people have so many to choose from, it is impractical to give each and every single suitor a chance at love with them. Exploring the entire field may take a lifetime. It is more pragmatic to pick only from the most beautiful people of the lot (who will mos likely number in the minority) and then narrow those down for people who fit the desired qualities.

Being beautiful automatically means that one has the best pick of the gene pool. However, this selection process is not fool-proof as pretty people with poor personalities often get picked first. The situation is exacerbated when beautiful people are spoiled with unconditional affection. This stalls the behaviour modification that normally produces emotional maturity.

This propensity for more efficient mate selection is what unattractive people often perceive as "shallowness". When beautiful people primarily select other beautiful people, they are not usually conscious of the fact that they are doing it, since the process is automatic. If people who are unattractive were likewise genetically gifted, their behaviour would be no different.

Apropos, the perception of shallowness is merely a situation where nature is operating more efficiently at weeding less desirable DNA out of the gene pool through the proactive inhibition of the likelihood that unattractive people have a chance to procreate as effectively as their more attractive kin. It is therefore more a function of the cruel nature of Darwinian evolution.

Misconceptions regarding Wealth, Fame and Talent

TV shows like American Idol™ 
search for that rare combination of beauty and talent, like Jordin Sparks - Season 6 Idol.
TV shows like American Idol™
search for that rare combination
of beauty, marketing appeal and
talent, like that of Jordin Sparks.
There are many people who are of the opinion that only the rich are beautiful or only the beautiful become rich. They go on to say that because the world naturally prefers beautiful people, they are more likely to become wealthy or famous.

While there is some truth to this perception, it is largely based on a correlation propagated by popular culture and media sensationalism. The truth is quite less dramatic.

Most of the rich, famous, talented people in the world aren't beautiful. Most of the beautiful people in the world are neither rich nor famous nor talented. However, because the media primarily highlights people who are beautiful, rich, famous and talented, the rest of the world tends to fallaciously think that beauty, wealth, fame and talent are inextricably linked when they are all merely correlations. Of course, people who spend a great deal of time following the lives of the rich and famous are much more likely to develop these popular misconceptions. However, There are several logical explanations for these misconceptions:

When Beauty predicates Wealth

A beautiful person tends to be confident because of the same genetic parameters that graced them with a beautiful face. Confidence propagates boldness and boldness is usually strongly correlated to wealth. This is because people who are willing to take risks tend to become wealthy. However, not every beautiful person is bold and so this remains just a correlation.

On the flip side however, wealthy people are able to afford the medical treatments that will either create beauty in themselves or enhance their existing aesthetic appeal. Most celebrities who are beautiful are really people with an average appearance (not a genetically average one) who can afford the medical enhancements that would produce that very attractive look.

Additionally, most movie stars are not very attractive without their makeup. However, because they are now quite wealthy, they can afford a professional make up artist to make them look great every time they walk out the door. Therefore the perceived connection between beauty and wealth is largely economic. So it's really media propaganda on surgical smoke and mirrors.

When Beauty predicates Fame

Where there are famous people who are also beautiful, it is likely that their attractiveness played a key role in their fame — but not necessarily. If we omit those who just happen to be wealthy (thereby giving them the capacity to artificially induce beauty), then the remainder (who usually number in the minority) are most probably famous because they are beautiful.

Most of these people tend to be models or actors or models who became actors. This means that they had to have some kind of talent to backup the pretty face. Both qualities are usually required to become famous. There are quite a few Hollywood stars who fall into this category. This includes people like Ashton Kutcher and Charlize Theron who are not actors by profession.

When one is both beautiful and talented, that's what later leads to becoming wealthy. While talent does not predicate beauty, it does predicate fame. Beauty is rare. Talent is also rare. But people who are both beautiful and talented are rarer still. So whenever such people are discovered, the media machine pushes them into the limelight — eventually making them rich.

You will see this phenomenon quite frequently manifested on American Idol where all of the contenders are judged not only by their ability to sing, but their physical and marketable appeal. Even if the winners are not the most physically attractive at the time of their win, usually within the space of a few years, their wealth affords them the ability to be beautiful.

The Role of the Media

The truth is that programs like American Idol (and virtually every other media-scripted "reality" show) employ multi-million dollar marketing companies to scour the demographics in western civilization for people who are both beautiful and talented. Out of the hundreds of hours of footage and thousands of candidates, they trim down a typical episode to feature only the most attractive and talented of the lot. This is what you see on TV — and is thus finally what leads to the common misconception of a correlation between beauty, fame, wealth and talent.

The primary beneficiaries of this marketing campaign are media and cosmetic industries. This is also why television personalities appear to be largely beautiful people. A substantial portion of television audiences who tune in to a particular program tend to subconsciously do so almost exclusively because they like seeing pretty people on TV. This in turn, charges up the ratings and thus the price that media companies can charge for an ad slot during a given program. Now you know why you see so many ads promoting anti-ageing in women during prime time.

Propensities of Pretty People

Everybody who is pretty knows that they are pretty. People who know that they are not also know as much. Knowing makes all the difference and that's why pretty people tend to behave a bit differently from everyone else. Whether they wallow in the obviousness of their genetic superiority or use it to get their way with the rest, every pretty person knows that they wield insurmountable power over the rest of humanity. It is instinctive for humans to abuse power. With that said, the following propensities are fairly common assault among beautiful people:

The Entourage

HBO's popular drama series "Entourage" captures many of the innate human propensities of an Alpha Male flanked by doting pals, set against the backdrop of Hollywood.
The popular HBO drama series "Entourage"
captures many of the human propensities
that drive the dynamic of these social groups.
The Entourage is really the quintessential people accessory for many pretty people. An entourage is basically a pretty person's closest group of friends (an inner circle, if you will). They may themselves be attractive, but are never more attractive than their pretty person. They usually sit around the table like scavengers and feed from the scraps of the kill of their pretty kin. The pretty person in a male entourage is usually called an Alpha Male. The female equivalent is typically called the Queen Bee.

The members of an entourage complement their existence with the aura of their pretty monarch who in turn benefits greatly from having the extra hands (and brains) at their disposal. Therefore the entourage is nature's way of evening out the odds for less attractive people who have a much harder time fighting for the win on their own. The moral support is always helpful. So in a way, an entourage is a useful, symbiotic relationship — although the pretty person benefits most.

The Yo-Yo Friend

A 'Yo-Yo' friend is usually an unpretty member of the opposite sex that is incredibly useful to a pretty person because of how easily they are exploited. The Yo-Yo friend is that geeky guy that a hot girl keeps around to fix her computer when it's broken. They are also that fairly unattractive fat chick who fawns over the school jock and is more than willing to do all of his homework while he goes on a date with the aforementioned hot chick. This is a fairly typical example of how pretty people abuse their power by wantonly exploiting others' insecurities.

Basically, yo-yo friends have little or no self esteem. They are usually so naive that they don't even realise that they're being used. Yo-Yo friends are not usually included in an entourage because the pretty person has a reputation to uphold (an entourage usually says something about a pretty person's status). They will usually accept any explanation for being excluded from the entourage. However, despite this disparity, Yo-Yo friends are fiercely loyal, and will Kamikaze anyone who threatens their pretty person (even if it's just another pretty person).

Yo-Yo friends are so labelled because:

Fun Fact: Yo-Yo's were originally invented as a disposable, yet very effective long range weapon.

The Upgrade

Pretty people naturally prefer other pretty people. But no matter how much one pretty person is enamoured with another, there will always be someone prettier still. While most people will either outgrow this trite propensity as they get older (falling in love with the who and not the what), pretty people tend to ignore this and go for an "upgrade" when the opportunity arises.

Because they're beautiful, they know they will be forgiven for wanting to upgrade. If everyone were beautiful they would have done the same thing. This behaviour is probably much more common in men than women (since women love with their emotional right brain, unlike men who prefer to employ their logical left). This relieves men of the emotional fallout of upgrading.

Upgrading appears to be selfish and abusive of human emotion. However it's a very powerful genetic unction that is tough to ignore. Now while I can never presume to know the full story behind Brad Pitt's decision to migrate from Jennifer Aniston to Angelina Jolie, I can only feel bad for all the Jennifer Anistons in the world. It's hard evidence that nature prefers perfection.

The Snob Complex

It is a commonly well known fact that many beautiful people never develop cognitively beyond the age of 14 (in the case of men) and 16 (in the case of women) respectively, regardless of their level of education. This was the point of the popular television program Beauty and the Geek and similar offerings. This explains the rotten behaviour of people like Jennifer Lopez.

Because they have such a powerful effect on people, many pretty people never usually have to work on being more mature. This is one of the reasons why pretty people often abuse their friendships. It's not because they're evil people. It's largely because many of them have life so easy, they genuinely don't know any better. Some behave that way out of frustration from having drawn the attention of so many people. They genuinely don't know how to handle the fame. This is why many celebrities hire publicists to do that particularly difficult job for them.

The Ditz Conjecture

"I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist"
"I make Jessica Simpson look like a rock scientist"
— Tara Reid, in one of her finer dumber moments.
Pretty people are sometimes haplessly and perhaps even hopelessly clueless about their world for all the same reasons they develop snobbish propensities: They're beautiful - and it's so intoxicating that they rarely focus on anything else. So they become a lot more like grown children stuck in adult's bodies. Some pretty people use this cluelessness to assert that they "have people" (see "Entourage" above) to figure that out for them. This is called the Ditz Conjecture, because it is a way for people to assert their beauty as the only thing they need to justify their existence. The problem with this conjecture is that everybody gets old. If you knew what happened to Tara Reid, then the rest is pretty self explanatory.


Not all pretty people like Entourages, keep a Yo-Yo friend, upgrade their lover, act snobbish or make Ditz Conjectures. In fact, unless you were born in the cradle of the most decadent societies on earth, it is highly improbable that as a pretty person, you would be inclined to manifest any of these unpleasant propensities. Thankfully, most of the pretty people in the world are just as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside. It's just that those pretty people are often drowned out by the noise being made by those with bad attitudes on MTV.

Life is made up of two components:
  1. Genetics
  2. Environments
A pretty person who is raised in an environment that heavily values sobriety, responsibility, education and selflessness will become someone that is genuinely loved by everyone for all the reasons humans have the capacity to love anyone. Pretty people who are not born in such environments often underestimate the value of their beauty and instead use it for just its surface value — thus grossly underestimating their (and everyone else's) personal worth. There are probably more beautiful people out there in the latter than the former category.

Nature is not exactly modest about playing favourites.

I will admit that I have met my fair share of beautiful people with ugly interiors. It is that experience that has led me to realise that less attractive people have beautiful personalities because of their aesthetic deficit. They have to make up for this genetic deficiency by being easily liked. As such ugly people are really God's abstract art pieces. So the next time you meet someone, spend less time looking into their face and more time looking into their soul. 

It's amazing the bevy of surprises you may find.

E-mail: accordingtoxen[at]gmail[dot]com

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