EVAN: Today, ladies and gentlemen, comes yet another E> that’s causing me seriously think about changing the title of the feature. Kat joins both Gordon and me in a three-person discussion we’ve been meaning to have for a while.
Today’s topic is one of Gordon’s making, so without further ado I am turning it over to him-
GORDON: Beauty is our topic for today.
Or perhaps “attraction” might be a better title. We’re going to be hashing out whether or not there’s an issue with being attracted to contemporary standards of beauty.
Now I bring this up because it’s been pretty well established that our contemporary standards of what’s attractive are, well, pretty unrealistic and often unhealthy. Though the 300 pounds of sheer blubber that would’ve turned heads two hundred years ago admittedly weren’t much better.
KAT: Maybe we should give an example of what this contemporary standard of beauty is. If you boys were to choose an actress to who exemplifies the most lovely aspects of a woman who would you choose and why?
GORDON: Olivia Wilde and Bryce Dallas Howard both spring to mind.
EVAN: I fluctuate a lot with this. To side with the masses, I do think Emma
Watson is all that. Kristen Connolly, from Cabin in the Woods, is also pretty fetching.
Is it purely physical? Or is there something else about those particular actresses?
GORDON: Well, I’ve enjoyed some of the characters they’ve played, but no, my gut reaction is to say it’s mostly physical
EVAN: I think Emma Watson has a pretty great smile, and her accent’s hard to dislike. Kristen Connolly was really great in Cabin in the Woods .
Reading back to your question I’m not sure if I provided two examples of women who best “[exemplify] the most lovely aspects of a woman,” but I don’t think they’re bad.
I mean, judging by your question I suppose we both assumed you were referring to physical aesthetics alone.
GORDON: I think one of the obvious questions here is “Am I attracted to these ladies because I’m told they’re attractive, or am I told they’re attractive because they are?”
I mean, we’ve seen lots of non-Western cultures adopt Western standards of beauty (along with skin lightening creams and eating disorders), but at the same time, in spite of the whole world flipping their lids for Hermione, I just don’t see it.
KAT: And you will notice the first actresses to come to mind, even for you thoughtful gentlemen were a) slender and b) Caucasian.
GORDON: Ah, but unlike my co-writer, I also think Olivia Munn and Lucy Lui are attractive.
KAT: But, they weren’t the first ones to come to mind.
GORDON: No, they were not.
KAT: So, we just need to look at who the face of “general beauty” is. And… it’s fairly limited. That’s probably part of the reason we see very limited racial diversity in Hollywood. Directors don’t think to cast them in a romantic comedy, for example.
EVAN: Late to respond, you guys, but I think Olivia Munn is super attractive.
GORDON: Granted, but let it be known that Evan puts Uncle Ruckus to shame in his attraction to the white woman.KAT: Hahaha.
GORDON: I do have a question though: I’ve got a thing for redheads, as is well established fact by now.
KAT: Are you trying to make gingers out to be a racial diversity in Hollywood?
GORDON: I’m just saying that my thing for redheads means I do, by default, limit myself in terms of racial and ethnic backgrounds I feel most attracted to.
EVAN: And, as Gordon said earlier with a Boondocks reference, I do find myself vastly more attracted to Caucasians than other races.
KAT: So, the question is, is this a natural attraction? Or something that has been impressed on you by our media and culture? And if that latter, then is that a problem?
And for the record, I grew up in the Middle East.
EVAN: And I largely grew up in Asia.
KAT: But you had a fair bit of media exposure, no? That question applies to both of you…
GORDON: I really and truly can’t say. I don’t have any particular reason to be attracted to redheads, other than perhaps because there weren’t many (any) in the Middle East. At the same time, plenty of white people in white cultures like women from their own racial background (and some don’t).
And I really didn’t have a ton of western media exposure, but Syria being a culturally moderate-conservative Muslim nation, not much of anything was exposed.
EVAN: I could take this time to delve into all of the the possible psychological reasons I’m not personally attracted to members of my own race [both races, I guess, seeing as I’m biracial], but I won’t.
For the most part, yes, I was pretty in tune with Western media. As an interesting[?] point, though, the races I’m next most attracted to are East Indian and Middle Eastern, and I had very little contact with either in my early childhood.
KAT: Well there goes my argument for the Expose Effect.
GORDON: What about weight? Am I shallow for finding heftier people unattractive?
KAT: Well, I think that practicality does play into our attractions to some degree. I mean those women with 300 pounds of sheer blubber you were referring to earlier represented more than weight in their attractiveness. It also signaled their affluence. Today weight is also linked to wealth, although if you are poor your obesity risk is higher.
Also, if you are an active person you tend to be drawn to people who appear able to keep up with your preferred activities.
EVAN: Back in the day, on some level, having more weight on you also meant you were healthier, and that’s certainly the converse now.
GORDON: Okay, how about this- we’re fed the message that it’s not the outside but the inside that counts. Yeah, we could point out that weight does say certain things about character, but hey, we all have faults. We’re fed the positive message (that surely we all agree with) that it’s your personality that truly counts.
That said, neither I nor anyone I know is really out there checking out dem smokin’ personalities.
And for full disclosure, I am by no means or any standard an attractive person.
KAT: Well, there is actually entire dating websites dedicated to the “big and beautiful”, but I see your point.
EVAN: And who’s feeding us that message that it’s on the inside that counts? I mean, even if there are a lot of voices communicating that message they’re easily outweighed by the hundreds of thousands proclaiming the exact opposite via advertisements and the media in general, etc.
KAT: That’s a really interesting question, Evan. Probably all the people who have been in relationships with attractive people long enough to realize that the attractiveness factor fades really quick if you are with an unpleasant person.
GORDON: The message IS out there- it’s not universal, but it’s definitely something we’ve all run into at some point.
KAT: So I think the most important thing to figure out is if our current standard of beauty is a problem. I for one would say yes, though I realize it’s more complex than a simple yes or no thing.
And… I’m primarily hinting at eating disorders here. Because the majority of us women don’t have the kind of body type most actresses do. I, for one, am a hobbit.
GORDON: I guess that last bit is really just as a major element of this issue. Most people are neither hideous nor stunning- is it morally or psychologically wrong, therefore, that I DO gravitate to the minority at the far end of the spectrum?
EVAN: Can you define “gravitate”?
I mean, I’ve dated two girls, and while neither were drop dead gorgeous they were definitely fairly attractive. Yes, I liked their personalities, but I was definitely into their looks as well.
KAT: Attraction plays a factor in who you date. That’s kinda a no-brainer, I think Evan is right. In the real world personality makes a huge difference.
GORDON: I’m by no means putting down personality. I think Bryce Dallas Howard is today’s Helen of Troy, but her racist character on The Help was so reprehensible that I can safely say I would not touch her with a 10 foot pole.
EVAN: I’m not saying that you don’t value personality, I’m just asking what you mean by “gravitate.” If you’re just stating that you’re attracted to “the best of the best” [and this differs depending on the person] I don’t really see what the big deal is.
GORDON: Kind of a weird issue for me, whose closest thing to a date was an arranged marriage to some Bedouin chieftain’s daughter when I was 8.
KAT: Oh man. That is such an excellent story.
So have you ever wanted to date someone (real life person, characters don’t count) and if so, was it purely due to looks or personality?
GORDON: Well, no.
KAT: Okay, what if I included fictional characters?
GORDON: …are you asking if I’ve wanted to get with a non-existent character?
GORDON: Yeah, that’s another resounding “no.”
EVAN: Do you remember when I told you last week how Gordon doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body?
I wasn’t being hyperbolic.
GORDON: Well, because I have to listen to people’s problems 8 hours a day and I don’t feel like having to do that on what little free time I have.
KAT: Wow. You really are Sheldon.
I mean that in the best way possible.
GORDON: I’ve been called worse.
Well, gents, now that i have gotten you completely off-topic I have to leave you. In closing I would just warn you to be aware of which women you point out as beautiful. Because the women around you are listening. Always listening….
And unfortunately the way men view women does affect the way we view ourselves.
GORDON: I wish we had time to touch on the flipside of things-
KAT: Which is?
GORDON: Women’s views on men. How about we bring up this topic next week?
KAT: Ahh… well… I might have 5 more minutes.
GORDON: I really don’t think we’re gonna be able to swing it in 5 minutes, but since you asked us- What men do YOU find attractive? Fassbender being a given.
KAT: Well, I was in love with Frodo for most of my preteen years. Yes, go ahead, laugh away.
And I definitely don’t speak for all women, but I heard someone say once that “women fall in love via our ears and men fall in love via their eyes.” I think there might be a little something to that. But I will leave that can of worms for another time.
G’night. And don’t have any fun without me.
GORDON: And I DO think we’re just about out of time for this week. With our readers’ consent, I’d be interested in bringing this topic back for next week.
EVAN: Seeing as you and Kat kind of took care of things, I think I speak on behalf of our readers when I say that you should continue on this discussion at some point this week. There’s certainly more to talk about.
Until then, I’d like to thank all of you, sitting in front of your computers, for reading this. We’d like to have more three-person talks in the future, and we can only get better with time.