Beauty, weight and physical attraction

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by parmalee, Mar 14, 2020.

  1. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    * Note: the text below reads "funny" to me, and I'm not entirely sure that I'm even making sense. Our dog had a bad seizure, and then I did, so everything's fuzzy. Please advise if it doesn't make sense, and I'll revise when head is clear.
    --------------------------

    Setting aside the varying cultural notions of ideal--as in, most beautiful-- body shapes, with impoverished nations generally favoring the Rubenesque while the more affluent nations tend towards the, erm, (early) Schiele-esque, what of individual preferences? I mean, is consideration of a person's weight or body shape the same as concern over an especially prominent proboscis or ears that stick out "too far?"

    From my perspective, it's apples and oranges. People have tremendous control over their own body weight--diet and physical activity being the overwhelming determining factors; they do not have any control over size, shape or placement of facial features (discounting cosmetic surgery). And, to me, having a healthy diet, not being gluttonous, and being physically active are important--and attractive--attributes. I consider them more reflective of inner beauty, so to speak.

    THAT SAID, I've been told, on countless occasions throughout my entire life, that I've got an unhealthy obsession with thinness, and anthropometrics generally. If you're familiar with that chart prominently displayed in veterinarians' offices the world over, which displays the profile of the underweight, overweight, and ideal dog--well, I apply that to humans: rib cage should be visible, but only slightly. IOW I think people should look kinda hungry. So, yeah, I tend to favor one end of the spectrum, but not to the point of ill-health. IMHO.

    Either way, I do not find overweight persons attractive. I'm speaking only to physical attraction and/or my assessment of "beauty" here; as far as general relations and "friendship" (kind of a weird notion to me) go, weight is not a factor. Is that shallow? Vain? Superficial?

    Obviously, the creation of this thread was prompted by reflecting upon responses to the creepy resident incel in an adjacent thread, and consideration of my own behaviors and attitudes.
     
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Based on what came up when I Googled "Schiele" I don't think I can meaningly contribute to this discussion - at least not until after a few sessions with a therapist to talk me off a ledge.

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  5. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    I couldn't think of any artist other than Egon Schiele who promotes a thin ideal. And even with Schiele, it's only his early work and likely not entirely deliberate--probably more to do with youth and poverty. Maybe HR Giger? 'Cept they're mostly aliens.
     
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  7. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Generally, the cultural norms do greatly influence the individual preference. It's impossible to unsee - to remove the psychic imprint of - all the images of desirable specimens we've been offered from infancy. It also stands to reason that impoverished nations would classify thinness and fatness quite differently from wealthy nations, in very practical terms. And those body types make entirely different statements about the status and viability of the people in those bodies.

    I don't think it's ever the same, unless somebody has a fetish or phobia. Again, in simple, practical terms, one would experience a lovers belly quite differently from their ears. As faces become familiar, we tend to stop noticing odd or discordant features after a while: they become stored in or data-files as just the face belonging to that name, and attached to all the interactions and conversations we've had with them. If they're nice, they become more attractive over time; if they're mean, they grow uglier. Something similar must apply to body contact in intimate relations, because long-married people reconcile to the changes that age brings to each of their bodies.

    Now, you're talking simply about physical attraction, but also intellectual judgment. He's fat; he must be a lazy glutton. Yes, we do that - everyone does that, to some degree. Of course, the amount of control people actually have varies greatly. The discipline and effort each person must exert in order to conform to a cultural ideal is different, and we don't appreciate what it costs them to look the way they do - or would cost them to look the way we'd like - unless we come to know them very much better. Which we'll never do, if we write her off at first sight as a self-indulgent sloven.
    Still, if you're not immediately attracted, no harm done. It only matters if this is someone who cares what you think of them and is hurt by your rejection.

    That's your preference - it doesn't happen to be mine. I've always favoured cuddlesome over angular.
    So, like, we're not hooking up anytime soon. What's been lost?

    I find that hard to believe. If you judge strangers for not keeping their weight down - not exercising enough, eating well, living right - I can't imagine you not thinking the same of friends and acquaintances. Hell, I know I do! I also judge them for sloppy word usage and bad colour sense, because those things matter to me. Everything is factor! We accept imperfections in people whose company we enjoy. But you'd probably be more eager to help a friend devise a weight-loss regimen, while I'd be happier to help them practice lucid dreaming.

    Naw - it's just your peculiarity. We all have peculiarities.

    Are you going out of your way to hurt anybody? Are you contrite when you hurt someone by accident?
    Are you generally behaving like a good person?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2020
  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Nah, you're not shallow. I like a lean muscular build on a guy, for instance. Personally, that is attractive or ''ideal'' to me. But, when it comes to chemistry, etc...if a guy lacks substance, intelligence, wit, the ability to not take himself too seriously, his exterior will not be enough to maintain my interest. So, while the initial spark may come from a man's build (lean and strong is my preference), overall chemistry tends to have a few more components. I don't think it's shallow to be physically attracted to what we are attracted to, but perhaps shallowness takes shape when we restrict our interest to a person's outward appearance.
     
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  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Each to his own.

    I worry about all the wafer-thin supermodels who starve themselves in pursuit of this kind of externally-imposed arbitrary notion of what an ideal woman is supposed to look like. This fad will pass just like the previous ones did.

    Personally, I'm attracted to healthy. That isn't going to include anorexic. My initial feeling towards those people is pity, not attraction.
     
  10. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Quite apart from personal magnetism, or sexual attraction, some types of people are more pleasant to look at than others - simply because they satisfy an aesthetic image. We like to look at what our culture considers beautiful - at the moment - but we also appreciate grace, agility, liveliness, the appearance of good cheer. In North America, everybody on public display is expected to smile all the time - unless they've won or lost a competition; in either case, we expect them to cry.
     
  11. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    However, cultural norms in an era of 24/7 multimedia, with innumerable possibilities, can be quite diversified. For instance, a person of my generation, with a certain temperament and appalling social skills likely spent a lot of Saturday mornings watching AIP distro films <<< on television during their formative years--from Japanese kaiju films to Roger Corman productions to Euro B-horror. By age 15, images of Barbara Steele <<< were burned onto my retinae.

    I have an unusual relationship to human faces owing, probably, to varying degrees of prosopagnosia. It's mostly quite mild to virtually non-existent, but when my EEGs are spiking it can be extreme--to the point of total unrecognizability. Consequently--and this is speculative, obviously--I'm drawn to faces with huge, wide-set eyes, jutting cheekbones, that can be rendered in two-tone with minimal application of chiaroscuro. Extreme ectomorphism. A face that's not gonna disappear on me. That may partially account for my fat-phobia, but that might be a stretch...

    Changes associated with aging and such do not bother me, but excess weight or fat signals a lack or diminishment of... nervous energy. In my own case, nervous energy is conducive to neurological health--meditation is about focus, to me, and absolutely not about relaxation. Also, my mother has a chronic autoimmune disease that nearly killed her some decades back. Her doctors urged her to go on disability benefits, but it wasn't financially viable ('cuz this is America!), so she continued working full-time. Oddly, while not without difficulties, keeping active actually seemed to restore her health. Of course, my mother's and my own peculiarities have precisely nothing to do with other people, but... people are weird that way.

    As far as rash prejudgements go, it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to me. It's practical. For instance, I'm apt to have reservations about someone with appalling taste in music. To many, I suspect that sounds ridiculous. But I'm a musician and music is a huge part of my life. On the other hand, I'd not likely be phased by someone who is, say, obsessed with The Real Housewives of Minot, North Dakota, simply because... well, who cares?

    Accordingly, one might reasonably assume that a person carrying extra weight isn't gonna be flying up a mountainside like a prong-horned sheep. That's also important to me--I'm a fast walker, fast climber, etc. Annoyingly so, according to most people.

    I prefer cold, harsh, distant. It reminds me of home! Ha.

    I'm hardly the most genial person, but I think I make an effort to be civil and courteous, if somewhat curt, towards most people. But, as noted, I have a curious obsession with anthropometric data and stats, and whenever I remark upon how certain stats seem totally off and implausible to me, people are quick to point out that I've always only surrounded myself with very thin people, so my perception is skewed. Perhaps, but apart from shared interests and such being somewhat determinative, I don't think I do that deliberately. But maybe I do? I don't know.

    Weight just seems an awfully silly thing to be overly concerned with, but it's not the sort of prejudice that's apt to diminish with education or familiarity--well, at least not in my case. It's just...there.
     
  12. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    That's not so different from the idealized skinny girl of my teens/early 20's. But that's only a generational icon, not a mainstream cultural one. In any case, all your saying is that you were influenced by the media images of your formative youth, just like the ordinary people are influenced by the mainstream or my cohort was by the fringe cultures of our youth.

    Anime faces? No problem, so long as you don't insist on their grotesque childishness.

    I hate to tell you this about aging....

    You're entitled to your phobias and peculiarities! Who, besides you, is taking you task about these feelings?

    he-e-yy... Where did I say "rash" or "pre"? I maintain that we all exercise judgment, that we all judge the people around us (How could we not? Sometimes our life depends on first impressions.) and that we may see two identical figures, and from the outside, assume that they are the result of similar circumstances and behaviour, but this may not be case.
    If you're repelled, it doesn't matter why - you just are.
    Appalling is very much in the mind of the listener. If two people don't share the taste in - or at least a high tolerance for - something that is important to one or both, obviously, they can't have a close relationship.
    I can't have one with a religious person, because the subject would come up, and I'd have to choose between insulting them or lying to them - that's no basis for a relationship.
    If you can't share activities, honest conversations, entertainments, laughter and meals, the relationship won't get far.
    What does it matter? You like what you like, want what you want. Probably most of the people you don't find attractive are not attracted to you, either. In fact, you're probably at the thin end of most bell curves -- fitting, yea? So am I - but, I still found one match good enough to grow old with.)
    And it's probably the single thing about you that's most nearly ordinary. Fat is a fairly general turn-off.
    It also kills people. Obesity is a huge medical, economic and societal problem. It also makes many, many things in life difficult, uncomfortable, expensive, inconvenient, or impossible for a great many people. Fat is bad.
    But feeling bad about not wanting to spend your time with someone who doesn't appeal to you is just downright pointless.
    Maybe you can have sympathy for them - at a cold, harsh distance.
     
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Everybody has personal preferences. I'm turned off by big hair/makeup/jewelry/perfume etc even though those things are considered to add to beauty. I am less attracted/repelled by body habitus (apart from the extremes.)
     
  14. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Who said anything about anorexic? I mean thin as in lean and sinewy, not anorexic. I've been medically anorexic (BMI of 14) twice in my life--once from dysentery and the second time from a so-called anticonvulsant that was anything but. Needless to say, those were awful experiences.

    Models aren't starving themselves over some ideal as to what a woman is supposed to like; rather, they're starving themselves for the designers who consider a certain physique optimal for displaying their creations. It's still technically anorexia nervosa, but the motivations are of a wholly different nature from those who are, in fact, starving themselves over arbitrary ideals. For the latter, the behaviors and underlying impulses won't simply go away when they move on or change professions.
     
  15. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    It stands to reason, that for most people, they like someone who can share in their interests. I'm into long distance running and have always generally liked staying fit, so I'm attracted to men who have similar interests. But, not arrogantly or obsessively so. I once dated a triathlete, and he was insanely anal about his workouts, and on the arrogant side. That's a turn off, no matter how attractive the guy is.

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  16. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Creations that are designed to showcase what an ideal woman is supposed to look like. Remember the quote attributed to Wallis Simpson - which does go rather a long way back : "You can never be too rich or too thin."
    So, whatever the means of conforming to it is technically called, the cultural icon persists: it continues to cause poor self-image in girls and young women and motivates them to behave in self-damaging ways, as well as inflict psychological damage on peers who do not conform to that ideal.
    Of course, that's not the only cause of poor self-image in girls, but it's prevalent enough.
     
  17. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Ech! I've never quite learned to appreciate anime. For me, it's the resemblance to insects, birds, or fish that appeals to me.

    With respect to the nervous energy, it's mostly people who've had to share accommodation with me--and, honestly, I don't blame them. When touring with others (bandmates or other musicians, that is), we're typically obliged to share a room with at least one person. I "suffer" from chronic insomnia, am prone to both nightmares and night terrors, and I occasionally seize in my sleep. Most people find this a tad unsettling. Often I simply forego sleep altogether, and go for a long walk or read all night in order to spare people the horrors.

    Yeah. The assumptions regarding behaviors (diet and inactivity) are likely correct, but the underlying causes for such can be complicated--a consequence of abuse or depression, living in a "food desert," who knows? But my face is an open book (apparently), and I've yet to learn how to, erm, mask that. I can offend without opening my mouth and without intending.

    A former poster here once described his wife as a devout Christian, a Republican, and a fan of country music (the shitty kind). He was an atheist, a communist, and did not care much for country. That's incomprehensible to me. I mean, I suppose each of those things can be of relatively little import in one's life, but... really?! I always wondered what they actually did have in common.

    That's my general take, but then I brood over "food deserts," or the fact that Pacific Islanders used to be thin (and we--as in the Western powers-that-be--essentially created their obesity epidemic), or kids whose parents got them addicted to garbage, and I feel like a self-righteous prick. Then I swing back and get angry over the fact that finding clothing has become such an ordeal--because of fat people! 28 inch waist pants are fast disappearing from thrift stores, as it's now been too many decades since they were last manufactured with any regularity. And somehow obesity has come to be regarded as more of a hardship than my refractory seizure disorder which is not of my own design.
     
  18. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Absolutely. But the "optimal physique" for design does also factor--or so I've been told. At least a handful of designers have explained to me, at length, why the garb hangs best on the banana or beanpole, but I can't recall precisely why that is for the life of me.
     
  19. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    Besides being creepy and dehumanizing, concern solely for looks and noting else--as are the incels, for instance--is just plain weird. How does a person even come to that realization, that everything but the surface appearance is of no consequence or concern? Wouldn't some sort of mannequin--or, gross, a sex doll--be preferable, as it will never change and it can be custom tailored to one's exact specifications?
     
  20. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I've come to the realization that some people lack self esteem, and look to others to give them a boost. Incels strike me as very insecure, bitter types who believe that happiness rests on the other side of a beautiful woman agreeing to have sex with them. That woman however, could be a deplorable human being, but they don't care. If she agrees to be seen with him, and have sex on the regular, he simply doesn't care. Of course, I'm generalizing, but having read different articles and blogs about inceldom, it seems close to the mark for quite a few of them.

    Of course, there's nothing wrong with being attracted to what we are attracted to, and that varies from person to person. But, attraction can only take one so far...at some point, you need to have a conversation and see if there are any other matchable traits.
     
  21. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    She was a good housekeeper, a doting mother; she kept her figure and laid a nice table for his friends? He was a good provider, didn't waste her time on idle conversation or embarrass her in public.
    Hey, I've seen worse marriages!
    Back tomorrow. I have a date with some Aussie corpse.
     
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    Anorexics often take negative reactions to their appearance as a manifestation of envy.
    So do others fallen victim to an internalization of some stereotype of attractiveness.
    That can expand into an explanatory structure for one's world overall - a world of the successful and the envious. Once that hook is set it's not going to dislodge easily.

    To take as a reward the perception of having evoked envy in others sets one up for disaster.
     
  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    For a start, because that's the conventional style of fashion drawing. From first concept onward, that's how designers imagine their dresses - this was the image in their heads, from about the age of ten - so that's how the product is recognized, packaged and presented. Secondly, having a coat-hanger shaped body in a dress is the next best thing to the dress walking around by itself: you should be looking at the dress, not the girl.
     

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