The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Will The All-Natural Celebrity Trend Last?


Men are visually triggered by certain images, which hit us on an unconscious level. Women have learned to manipulate us by emphasizing certain traits, downplaying others--its a power game. I doubt that we will ever be satisfied by the "natural" if a nip here, a tuck there, makeup, lighting, dieting, whatever, gets a more powerful unconscious reaction on the job or in relationships. As a man matures, he cares less about these things (a bit) just as when women mature they don't care about overt power symbols in their men quite so much. But most of the human race concentrates on creating bonds at peak fertility/power years (17-35?) not so much the "mature" phase of human experience (35>?). I think that rational discussion of these things is well and good, but we can't expect unconscious preference for "beauty", even exaggerated to the point of parody, to stop being a factor in human relationships any more than we can expect unconscious aversion to "the other" to stop producing racist tendencies. Human beings aren't angels--we like what we like, and men and women both manipulate this to their advantage. The immature scream that "they" make us do it. Posh. We do it to ourselves, because we believe it will get us what we want. Women who don't play the beauty game and men who don't play the "power" game are each other's natural partners.



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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Men are visually triggered by certain images, which hit us on an unconscious level."

So are women and children. Hence some women taking that into account when interviewing job applicants of all genders. Also hence both some girls and some boys bullying some other children for their appearances.

"whatever, gets a more powerful unconscious reaction on the job..."

Thank you for remembering that it's sometimes it's about *survival* and not painfully starving to death (instead of always just about sex and probably being outlived by some of one's DNA)!

"but we can't expect unconscious preference for "beauty", even exaggerated to the point of parody, to stop being a factor in human relationships"

More accurately, "not-ugly." You know how some people look "plain" and struggle to look "beautiful"? Some other people look "ugly" and struggle even harder to try to look at least "plain" (even people who already aren't overweight, there are plenty of other ways to end up condemned as "hideous"!).

Jessica's appearance in that photo is still an example of an unattainable ideal for some other employees and jobhunters (not just female ones either - some not-ugly standards, like clear skin, get applied to all genders) who struggle to make their bodies appear tolerable enough to employers...

"The immature scream that "they" make us do it. Posh. We do it to ourselves, because we believe it will get us what we want."

...and even more precisely, our survival instincts do it to us.

"Women who don't play the beauty game and men who don't play the "power" game are each other's natural partners."

And men who don't play the "not-ugly" game and women who don't play the "power" game too, like when a woman doesn't let a big lumpy birthmark on a male job applicant's face and a gap on his résumé stop her from hiring him.

Pagan Topologist said...

I think that faking a desired look gets to be detected, and soon. It is not in anyone's interest to be misled by a constructed appearance. A reproductively inclined male who is taken in by a sixty year old woman who has made herself look thirty years old will fail to reproduce. The ones who do reproduce will be those who see through the disguise. I find myself put off by women who try to look younger than they really are. If I were eager to have more children, I would be far more so, I think. I am attracted to women in my age group (mid sixties) who look it and to younger women who look their age as well.

Anonymous said...

"I think that faking a desired look gets to be detected, and soon..."

Why side with the bullies who attack women and teen girls for lacking breasts, who attack men and boys for cleft palates, etc. instead of siding with the women who evade that harassment by having implants, the men and boys who evade that harassment by having facial surgery, etc.?

"...A reproductively inclined male who is taken in by a sixty year old woman who has made herself look thirty years old will fail to reproduce..."

He'd still *survive* that...

...which is more than I can honestly say for some other people who, without the ability to change one's appearance, would be bullied to death in childhood or (if they also can't inherit enough money or land) shut out of chances to make a living in adulthood.

Pagan Topologist said...

Anonymous at 6:53, when I say "soon," I do not mean within one lifetime. But within five or six, generations, any genes which predisposed a male to be misled would have disappeared from the gene pool. Evolution happens without regard to who gets hurt; in evolutionary terms, surviving and not reproducing is pretty much equivalent to not surviving.

Nancy Lebovitz said...

Pagan Topologist, if we're talking five or six generations out, I don't think we have any idea what the tech level, methods of reproduction, or length of women's fertile period will be.

Pagan Topologist said...

No doubt that's true Nancy. I am speaking of the past; what I argue has already happened, and which accounts for the fact that, so far as I can tell, appearance-altering things like makeup, etc, do not change attractiveness as much as one might guess.

suzanne said...

"Men are visually triggered by certain images, which hit us on an unconscious level."

the old (newer) notion that men are more visual than women
is specious
and comes bolstered by "evolutionary psychology"
which is after all
more fictional than not

anyone who thinks hunting
(skipping over the fact that "hunting" probably initially meant scouting out leftovers
from the kill of the other predators)
required more visualization
than identifying safe plants for eating,
noting the differences between similar looking plants
some toxic others not
isn't thinking through
what it must have taken to survive

I also saw a recent study
(I'll try to find it for linkage)
which showed women were as visual as men when it came to looking at human bodies
(those "certain images")

while I fully happily
acknowledge
differences between men and woemn
this isn;t opne of them

Mike Ralls said...

>(skipping over the fact that "hunting" probably initially meant scouting out leftovers
from the kill of the other predators)<

Where do you get that from? Humans have been the top predator on the planet since before we were human (HSS).

suzanne said...

Mike
here's a link

http://www.livescience.com/history/060316_peace_violence.html

Mike Ralls said...

Australopithecus afarensis was five million years ago. Calling it "initially" seems a bit of a stretch. If we couldn't interbreed with it, it's not "us."

Anonymous said...

"A reproductively inclined male who is taken in by a sixty year old woman who has made herself look thirty years old will fail to reproduce. The ones who do reproduce will be those who see through the disguise"

A reproductively inclined woman who is taken in by, say, a bald man who has made himself appear to have a full head of hair, or a man with severe adult acne who has made himself appear to have clear skin, or whomever, won't necessarily fail to reproduce. The ones who do reproduce will include some of those who don't see through the disguise (and some of those who get raped no matter if they saw through any rapist disguises or not).

"But within five or six, generations, any genes which predisposed a male to be misled would have disappeared from the gene pool."

First, how about any recessive alleles for genes which predispose a man to be misled? Having a trait like Tay-Sachs can kill you when you're a toddler (see "...Even with the best of care, children with Tay-Sachs disease usually die by age 4, from recurring infection..." at http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/taysachs/taysachs.htm), and the alleles for *that* still manage to get passed on. Do you think that a recessive allele which predisposes a man to be misled by other people's appearances would be *less* likely to get passed on than Tay-Sachs?

Second, how about any dominant alleles for genes which predispose a human of either gender to be misled, especially if these genes are on one of the first 22 chromosome pairs instead of the 23rd, XY or XX pair?

A woman could be misled by a man changing *his* appearance, conceive with him, and pass on that predisposition to being misled to both daughters and *sons*.

It's like the way a woman from a less-hairy ethnic group and a man from a more-hairy ethnic group won't necessarily conceive daughters who can't even grow arm hair and sons who grow plenty of chest hair. A girl can still inherit a beard and mustache from her father's mother, grandmothers, etc. and a boy can still inherit a difficulty growing those from his mother's father, grandfathers, etc.