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physical attraction

when you're born, you aren't physically attracted to anyone.

to be physically attracted to someone, requires some theories about why that person is physically attractive.

we learn these as we grow up. we figure out why certain things are physically attractive.

most guys seem to be physically attracted to woman of all races (at least in movies and in California). even though they look totally different. and also, if they saw a woman of a new race (still human), they would see her as physically attractive right away. (assume she's not fat or ugly)

this means the guys are physically attracted to some qualities common to all women. so, they see these qualities in the new girl, and the racial differences don't change them, so she's hot.

obvious candidate qualities include: breasts, ass, pussy, height, hair style (women of diff races can have same hair style, to a large extent), being skinny, and anyway you get the idea.

what if someone was not quite so indoctrinated as to find anything human shaped with breasts automatically hot?

well, for one thing he would focus on personality more. but lets ignore that. lets say he grows up around only white people. probably, he will find at least some of them hot. but for his own reasons.

now, say he meets some asians. it's totally possible the reasons he found the white people hot will be something asians are physically different about.

for example, if you were making up hotness criteria on your own, you might end up finding certain face types hot. asian faces look a bit different than white ones. it may seem subtle, but it wouldn't if you were really focussed on it.

after some time, our test subject could create some theories about asians being hot too, and become attracted to asians. but these would likely be something exclusive to asians (because if whites had them, he already would have theories about them).

and then if he met some blacks, but they aren't attractive at first. etc

i wonder if this person would be accused of racism. i wonder how many people warp their views on what's physically attractive to avoid being "racist". and i wonder how much sense it makes to find something everyone has very attractive.


Elliot Temple on June 11, 2004

Comments (8)

I think the person would indeed be accused of racism. I think they wouldn't have to warp their views on what's attractive, so much as hide or go into denial about *why* they find the person attractive. Also, I think your "what if" happens all the time (cuz I think your opening premises are wrong, but only in a way that makes the end of your post more interesting):



-I think we *are* born physically attracted to some people. An important one is our mother. (obviously not *that* way but then again the instinct is not *unrelated*..)



-I think we *are* born with ideas of physical attractiveness (symmetry, curvy (girls), no blemishes, etc). Seems weird to say we "learn" this, how? This stuff's explainable in evolution terms as instinct. A species would be in trouble if they had to "learn" to be attracted to/how to pick mates all the time



-I also don't think that guys are attracted to women of all races, at least not uniformly if that's what you meant (ooh I'm *controversial*). You see white guys w/Asian girls, much less so w/black girls. Yes lots of that is cultural but all? (*mega controversial mode* I've also read there's a "black guys find lighter-skinned black girls more attractive" tendency...)



-So while I'm sure "anything human-like with breasts" (this is guy POV obviously :) is probably indeed a low-level criterion for attractiveness in a reproduction emergency, there are higher ones, one of them being "looks like my mother/family/clan/nation", which you'd expect to at least be present, cuz historically they'd have conferred evolutionary advantages. In racial terms this means you'd expect a tendency for people to bias toward traits present within their own race (another *ooh controversial* remark: are black guys more likely to like/appreciate a big "booty"? if so why?).



So I think there probably *is* a tendency to make up a "hotness" theory that goes along w/your instincts (+whatever amount of indoctrination if that actually happens) and it could indeed be a list of traits for which this or that race doesn't qualify so much. And yes, if you voiced this ("I don't find Purples attractive") you'd be a "racist" so instead you kinda, just don't date Purples and, it's polite not to comment about it, you really don't talk about Purples too much, although if you see a Purple movie actress and she's ok, you make a point of saying how pretty you find her, to compensate and prove you're not "racist".



On the other hand the thing you say about if they saw a completely-new race, guys would find it attractive, is interesting and sounds right. There does seem to be a compensating "exotic" instinct.


Blixa at 7:53 PM on June 11, 2004 | #953

Try being a nursing mother. Everyone is seriously attracted to beasts (mmm, lunch). In fact, even from very very young people are seriously attracted to anybody's breasts, even though they don't smell right and don't produce the goods.



I have no idea how that translates into finding people attractive later, though.



Wonder if bottle-fed babies are more likely to be homosexual? (*runs away in embarrassment at patently silly remark*)


emma at 2:22 AM on June 15, 2004 | #954

breasts dammit not beasts



*makes nth mental note: proof read my comments, proof read my comments*


emma at 2:22 AM on June 15, 2004 | #955

i would expect children get some food-seeking theories, and at first they aren't very accurate (hence going to any breast). i wouldn't see why this would have anything to do with sexual attraction later. i could imagine that some people might feel safe/comforted w/ head in breasts and retain that.


Elliot at 10:21 AM on June 15, 2004 | #956

ok scratch the breast stuff then.



i had in mind something like "children are *especially* attracted to their own mother" (incl. sound of her voice, etc), and i guess i had a hunch (remember reading somehwere?) that the breast-feed drive etc comes from some of the same hormones that will also, much later, guide the sex drive.



but it's not at all important to what I was trying to say so excise it if you like. what is important to what I'm trying to say is: the hypothesis that we are born with a set of instincts/templates (that could, in fact probably are, shaped in childhood) for the type of person we'll find "attractive", and this will be different for person born/raised in group 1 as opposed to group 2. If someone wants to dispute that, that *would* be significant.



p.s. I'd try being a nursing mother but I suspect I would not meet with much success at the task. (Also, I could get in big big trouble if people took it the wrong way ;-)


Blixa at 12:10 PM on June 15, 2004 | #957

i've personally changed the set of people i find attractive. so telling me it was set in childhood won't impress me.



also i didn't watch any anime in my childhood, and anime isn't something my genes know about, but i find anime chars attractive.



will consider writing a post about genes and instincts and theories, but don't really wanna go into my view on that here.


Elliot at 12:22 PM on June 15, 2004 | #958

oh also i find *more* anime chars attractive now than when i first started watching anime. it changed.


Elliot at 12:23 PM on June 15, 2004 | #959

i've personally changed the set of people i find attractive. so telling me it was set in childhood won't impress me.



don't think I said or implied "set". see words "template", "instincts". nothing's set in stone here



also i didn't watch any anime in my childhood, and anime isn't something my genes know about, but i find anime chars attractive.



weird category error, no of course your genes don't "know about anime", anime is not even in the class of things genes could possibly "know about", (they don't "know about chess" either) but isn't it possible that they "know about" images-you-(and-lotsa-others-)find-attractive that anime creators are canny enough to tap into by putting into their cartoons?



oh also i find *more* anime chars attractive now than when i first started watching anime. it changed.



again, i never said anything was set in stone. I'm not communicating well perhaps.



To try to bridge the gap here--



Yes, I think it's close to waht you said here: "i would expect children get some food-seeking theories, and at first they aren't very accurate". Same goes for attractiveness-theories: at first they aren't very accurate/are highly general. Then they are specialized by experience, perhaps experiences when very young. but what's more, perhaps the "theories" children get when born, *contain the seeds of that potential specialization*. This would actually be *different* from "we're born not knowing anything about attractiveness, and learn it all." I suspect we're born with general theories about attractiveness that *include some To-be-shaped-later subroutines* and thus (by design) get shaped by culture and experience (which thus means: people in different cultures have their views shaped in different ways).



It's possible i'm actually not saying anything different from you, and just don't know it (yet)


Blixa at 12:42 PM on June 15, 2004 | #960

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)