Stickman Readers' Submissions August 27th, 2014

In The Eye of the Beholder

Putting aside Rachel’s need to take courses in written English and her blithe arrogance, the principal problem with her submission is that she suffers from the fallacy that there is a universal standard for what makes an individual attractive. Fortunately for the survival of the species this is not the case, but it is worth of an analysis of the various factors which tend to brand a woman as more or less attractive.

As a general principle, people tend to be most attracted to those who share a common ethnic look and culture with them. Familiarity breeds comfort which is the most fertile ground for the development of a relationship. Putting aside culture, however, I think it is wrong to say that one group of people is attractive or unattractive. Every population has a continuum regarding how strongly they share physical features common to their ethnic group and therefore whether a man finds the group as a whole relatively attractive or less so, there are individuals who will fall outside their general impression. As an American living in one of the most diverse cities in the world, I am lucky in that I get to see a breathtaking array or women from all backgrounds. Although there are certain groups I am generally not attracted to, African Americans and Latino women, among those populations I have still met women I consider stunningly beautiful. And while I generally am attracted to most varieties of Asian women, which is fortunately for me the group I appeal most to, I have met many I would be loathe to wake up next to.

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I think the closest thing to a universal metric for attractiveness at this point in history is weight. There are relatively few cultures in which women who are overweight are relatively more desired. Some men love large breasts or large butts, which may or may not be correlated with weight, but this is true only of certain groups. The general increase in weights in most societies along with unrealistic understanding by most men of what constitutes the average female figure has created somewhat of a crisis in the West where significant segments of the population find it more and more difficult to find a partner while a small population of women is swarmed with interest. But even among those women in the bottom 25% weight percentile for their height, there is remarkable diversity. I prefer highly slender women with soft bodies over the lean or muscular hard body types, which is why I find so many Thai women attractive, but the latter type seems to attract the most attention in the American dating market.

One area where there is enormous variation among different ethnicities is height. A society filled with Thai women and Scandinavian men or vice versa would look very amusing. Oddly though, I think this is largely irrelevant for most men while it is incredibly important for women. I have found that most women will not date a man shorter than they are even if all other stars align, a prejudice which applies across most cultures. For most men I think there is wide zone of comfort where as long as it is not logistically difficult to be intimate with a partner (as a 5’5’ guy I will admit that dancing and kissing a girl of 6’1 was very challenging!) it is not something that is heavily focused on.

Facial features are the most intangible and yet I think the most important physical characteristic for most men I know. It is the area where we tend to focus our attention the most in our daily activities, as opposed to our intimate activities. There are many women with great figures, but with prominent facial features which are badly out of proportion. Likewise there are women with unimpressive figures who nonetheless have facial features which are perfectly balanced and appealing. It is here where I think there is the greatest diversity of tastes as certain features, whether it is the eyes, nose or lips of a population are found to generally attractive or unattractive by each individual. For those populations I am generally not attracted to, it is usually a great set of facial features which makes certain women highly attractive to me.

Skin color, as opposed to texture or any other characteristic, is something I am surprised plays as large a role in attraction as it does. Putting aside the sub-genre which clearly is based in racial prejudice, I have always been surprised in how large the sub-genre of interracial pornography is. Clearly some significant segment of the male population is attracted to women with different skin colors. If I had to posit a theory about why skin color is such a prominent consideration for individuals in choosing a partner, I would hypothesize it has less to do with sexual attraction than the desire to have children who look like themselves. This can be a significant wildcard as the children of interracial couples can adopt characteristics from parents which either can work very well or terribly together and make them look very different from their parents.

Coming full circle, culture is the most important characteristic I think men as well as women use to discriminate among partners. That is why most cultures prefer to marry within each other. Having a baseline understanding from which to judge a partner and being able to avoid inter-cultural misunderstandings or tensions overcomes very significant obstacles. I once dated a Pakistani girl who told me when we broke up that I so resembled her ideal of the perfect man, that I made her realize she could never date outside her culture. The crisis which is occurring in the West is that women are increasingly moving away from the cultural characteristics that men desire, which is why Asian women have become such a focus of interest for Western men.

In November I am going to Thailand for the first time to visit my Thai Love Links girlfriend, who is a well-educated Isaan girl. We plan to spend part of the time in Khon Kaen and the rest in Bangkok, so I am looking forward to seeing the tremendous diversity of ethnic looks I have encountered in Skyping with Thai women. But what I really look forward to is the warmth and friendliness I have encountered, something I badly need in my life right now and which I find more attractive than anything else I could find in my own country. The fact that these cultural traits are particularly acute among Isaan women, not their darker skin, is why like many Western men will end up with a girl from Isaan and not a fair skinned beauty from Chang Mai. A wise man chooses the woman who will make him happy, not the one who will appeal to others around him.

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