We can be intensely attracted to people who aren't considered "beautiful" by evolutionary psychology standards, and this tells us something about sexiness. Read More
Interesting and I tend to agree with you. However, another way to view what you are saying from an EP perspective is, fitness indicators. Meaning, creativity and use of language can, in fact, signal, to the opposite sex, your fitness.
Also, the Danny Trejo example does not work well, because it has been established females, when choosing a mate, will sacrifice "good looks" for status and resources. So, from that angle, Danny Trejo is an evolutionary winner.
Also, just because we have our preferences in what we find most attractive does not mean we will not settle for less. There has been extensive research on people generally pairing with those closest to themselves. In fact, those that see each other as equals in the realm of genetic fitness tend to stay together longer.
The best pairing happens always with people who are opposites of each other - they are each others' "better half" and complement each other.
Therefore, to speak of an ideal attractiveness is meaningless, since it depends completely on the relation between each member of a pair.
Beauty, on the other hand, consists mainly of harmony and therefore something that is more universally consensual.
Therefore, one can be ugly and attractive (the latter only in relation to someone). If the theory of opposites must hold, perhaps the ugliest person should mate up with the prettiest one?
The most beautiful person is the most harmonious one; the ugliest, the most contradictory one.
Beauty is an aestethic matter - something outside the field of attractiveness.
Which is also why computer generated images can be of people who are extremely pretty, though unrealistic. Make everything accentuate the rest and you'll have a completely beautiful person, though not something that occured through natural selection.
This is what makes humans so special. The most acceptable mate varies per individual. In other words, everyone has a different definition of beautiful and pass those personally appealing genes to the next generation. It is a flawless system that makes us a very successful species.
Such great comments everyone- thank you.
...then Stevie Wonder must think I'm Heidi Klum.
Whereas I tend to think of myself as the "love" (???) child of Lena Dunham and Gollum Smeagol. Then again, my mother can't stand pugs (she calls them "pugly") but I find them absolutely adorable and wish I lived on an island ruled by pugs. She thinks they look like Gremlins from the movie of same name (I can't be the only one who wishes I could adopt a Mogwai?). I also tend to like "kitschy" decor and cult-classic movies like Hairspray and Rocky Horror. Great, so not only am I a pop-culture geek but a stereotypically ugly one too. (BTW, WTF is "fugly"?)
Maybe that whole "law of attraction" thing is actually a real thing and "like attracts like" -- or in my case, "unlike attracts unlike"? There must be other people on this planet who love pugs -- but then again, that probably means nothing in terms of evolution, because obviously I'm not looking to breed with one!
The OP headline implores me to do something about my "ugly-sexy" (whatever that is) but then starts talking about celebrities, who by definition are more attractive than repulsive in some sense, though in these cases are not sex symbols, and wants me to see them as both somehow ugly and sexy?
It's not really happening, though I've never seen Janine Garafolo in anything other than the famous female-clone-of-Jerry Seinfeld episode, where she's attractive enough. Huston is unsexy now because she's old.
I've run across women who've had crushes on everyone from Tom Petty to Christopher Walkin. One in particular was dumbfounded that anyone could not think Lyle Lovett was the greatest thing since sliced bread. There's no accounting for taste.
Janine Garafolo is just plain more conventionally attractive than Uma Thurman. Bad choice of example.
Janeane Garofalo. Oops, foolishly thought another commenter (i.e. Martian Bachelor) would've spelled it correctly. Serves me right.
Reminds me of my feelings about Kid Rock. The least attractive man I can picture but somehow he is really hot to me.
One of the things that muddies the water with regard to personal appearance is that most people fall squarely in the middle of the bell curve. Not ugly, and not stunners either, just blandly homogenous. Nothing wrong with this, but if the point of looking good is attraction, then the vast majority of people would have to rely on other methods than surface appearance, including unflappable confidence, sense of humor and generally magnetic charisma, which can trump even those in the immediate area that have a magazine cover appearance. After thousands of years, society still views surface appearance as the worm on the hook, which is as much a biological function as mental. All of these methods are at the root level, a rationale for procreation, even if the motivation gets redirected along the way.
Very thoughtful. You are so right that most of us aren't on either end of the spectrum, and at that point it's everything else that matters.
It is so nice to see this article! It makes me feel that I am not completely crazy! I'm in my 20's, but I have always had this thing for older men or men my own age who are not conventionally attractive, and I became aware in the past few years it's because of how they act. If I simply see a picture of them, I sort of go, "Eh, they're okay looking, I guess," but the instant I see them in action I'm simply pulled in. A few really good examples of this would be John de Lancie (played Q on several Star Trek series), Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People, Leverage), and James Woods. You look at a picture of them and you sort of shrug, but when they act they are so supremely comfortable and confident in their skin, it simply comes across as extreme sex appeal. Tom Hanks has this, as well, as does Chris Eccleston (Doctor Who). It's so nice to know that I am not crazy, but see sexiness in a different way than other women around me.
Thanks, Elise. You are definitely not alone. Confidence (without arrogance) is underrated as a magnetic form of attraction.
It totally explains my Dustin Hoffman crush and my attraction to short men.
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Heidi Reeder, Ph.D., is an associate professor of communication at Boise State University.
Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?