Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Male Attractiveness

Amber links to this piece about male attractiveness.

Amber highlights this passage:
Are we as guys lucky not to be evaluated as stringently based on physical attributes as girls are? Sure, I guess. But the downside is, this can make us complacent about how we look. The best strategy is, even if we’re not being judged as harshly as women, imagine that we are. It’s this complacency that makes some guys think stupid shit like “Well, I am a sensitive writer, so not only do I not need to have a nice body, but I should actually avoid having one, because having one would mean that I am not a sensitive writer anymore.”

Look at it this way: when you see a chick who is wearing glasses and a pencil skirt because she is going for a Sexy Librarian thing, do you want her to not have an amazing body just because that is the look she is going for, or do you want her to be going for that look and have an amazing body? Obviously, you want her to also have an amazing body. There is no possible aesthetic for which the equation [given aesthetic] + [amazing body] = [even better] does not hold. So why would girls think of us any differently?

Totally makes sense.

The author then continues:
Girls learn to adopt different vibes for different situations, and boys learn to pick a vibe and stick to it: whereas a girl learns to say “I will look like Dita von Teese at this party, like Shirley Manson at that party next week, like ’80s Madonna for that dance party,” etc. as needed, a guy just decides when he is fifteen or so, “I am like John Lennon, so I will try to look like John Lennon, and that will be my thing every day for the rest of my life.”


The stumbling block for guys is that we are hypervigilant about accurately projecting our personalities—I have to wear “A” and have haircut “B,” so that anyone who sees me can plainly tell that I am XYZ type of person. But people don’t actually need as much help discerning our personalities as we are inclined to believe they do. In fact, occasionally adopting a style that doesn’t instantly telegraph your demographic might be socially beneficial, because it forces you to actually interact with people if you want them to know what you’re like.

I understand the paranoia: maybe this time there would be some chick there who has always been looking for a guy who projects exactly what my “real” personality is, and if I get dressed up all “fake,” she won’t know it’s me.

While the whole it cannot hurt for guys to workout line of argument makes perfect sense, the psychological analysis doesn't resonate with FLG at all. FLG must say he can never remember worrying, ever, that he'd miss out on some girl because he'd project a fake him. In fact, he can't remember ever saying he's like anybody and tried to be like them for the rest of his life. And even if that's a bit of hyperbole, which FLG assumes it is, then it still doesn't resonate. FLG doesn't project people. He wears different stuff because he feels like wearing different stuff. Now, you could say that's because on this day he wants to project a 1940s movie star version of FLG and on this other day the rugged, outdoor individualist version of FLG, but he certainly doesn't consciously think that way. Nor does he ever remember getting an inkling that other guys think this way. The author describes himself as a sensitive writer, which maybe explains this discrepancy. But the whole idea of projection different "selves" makes FLG uncomfortable.

It never hurts to work out. Okay, gotcha. Men need vary their look to take the context of the the social enviroment more into account. Okay, gotcha. Men need to stop worrying about projecting a false self? Yeah, not so much. The whole idea sounds...well, unfortunately FLG doesn't have a better way to describe this, but...gay unmasculine.

Perhaps this just proves the author's point that "men see performativity as silly at best and a form of insincerity at worst" "And that’s how I feel about finally coming to terms with what they referred to in college as “traditional notions of masculinity.”" But you know what, this article, when you boil it down, strikes FLG as if it were written by a woman trying first to explain to men why they should workout, but then also trying to explain psychologically why they don't, incorrectly, of course. Although, as FLG alluded to before, maybe this is simply because FLG is so immersed in traditional norms of masculinity that he's like a fish not knowing he is wet.

In any case, the simple fact of the matter is this -- the cost-benefit tradeoff for working out isn't as great for men as it is for women. Working out sucks for both men and women, but women get more benefit because guys notice if you have a nice body and are very attracted to it. Moreover, because other women are also concerned about this, it becomes a bit of a vicious cycle. Dudes on the other hand, don't have so much upside. Yes, chicks dig six-pack abs, but chicks also dig, as the article mentioned, nice suits, nice cars, etc. All things being equal, if you are worried about attracting women, then it's probably better to make money. Now, a rich guy with six-pack abs is better than a rich guy with a beer belly, but over the long-run, it's probably better to invest in making lots of money rather then going for the six-pack. Once you are over a certain age, male physical attractiveness matters less than other factors.


Withywindle said...

This is totally my schtick. Men need to be Machiavellian and use clothes and abs to project a character that pleases any audience. Trying to express a sincere inner personality is foolish and, worse, weak.

The Ancient said...

When men get older, they start to look like Sean Connery.

When women get older ... well, they start to look like Sean Connery, too.

So when you think about it, it's just a matter of time-horizons.

George Pal said...

In an experiment in England one hundred men and women were shown pictures (waist up) of attractive women and men. The pictures were diverse only in that they subtly suggested a social/working rank – service, blue collar, suit, and for the women – uniforms, leisure, and dressed up. Men, on average, found 94 percent of the women attractive; women were more discriminating finding 76 percent of the men attractive. The difference could be almost entirely attributed to a significant number of women dismissing men who looked to be the lower end of the provider scale.

Men would be well served if they stopped listening to the bull crap about fab abs and strutted their Armanis/Ferraris.

arethusa said...

Why does the author assume that working out will lead to an amazing body? Not so.

However - I would point out that it is the more moneyed (not necessarily rich) in society who have greater leisure to work out and greater resources to expend on it, thus raising the chances that by working out they will get an amazing body. If I see a man with an amazing body (and who does not depend for his living on having an amazing body), I'd be very likely to assume that he has a decent amount of financial resources.

Amber said...

The essay was written by a dude, albeit not a conventional dude.

George: If guys generally don't take care of themselves, factors other than looks being given additional weight makes sense. Of course, I'm not sure that the results of experiments run in England are completely transferable to other, less class-rigid societies.

Amber said...

Re: working out leading to an "amazing body": If your personal experience with the effects of weight training so militates, replace "amazing body" with "less flabby body."

this is usually where a bunch of people chime in with “Yeah, but not every girl likes those huge bodybuilder guys…”

Whoa. One problem at a time. You have never worked out in your life, but right off the bat you’re afraid about getting too huge? Guys who look like that devote every waking moment to making themselves look like that, adopt crazy diets and supplementation programs, and—maybe not all, but definitely lots—take steroids. There is absolutely zero chance that by doing a 45-minute weight routine three days a week you are somehow going to get huge to the point where it’s weird. This would be like a girl deciding that, because not every guy likes insane fake pornstar boobs, she doesn’t want to have boobs at all. Having boobs at all is unquestionably a plus, and so is being muscular at all. If you’re still so scared about it, concentrate on cardio + abs, since there are no girls who dislike sixpacks and that obliques “V” thing.

He is so right about the obliques thing. It is compatible with ANY aesthetic.

Anonymous said...

Ancient -hahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahaha

Mrs. P

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