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Beauty: We Know the Truth

 

I was in a store a few weeks back with my mother. Whenever I go down there, I offer to help with heavy lifting, such as bringing in cases of bottled water or bags of salt for her water softener. Naturally, we go to stores where such products are purchased. In this case, it was a general merchandise store and Mom wanted to pick up some other things, including make up. There was a very large make up department, and the aisles were arranged by brand. My mother was looking for several products of different brands, so we traversed several aisles with each brand advertising its wares with pictures of what passes for beautiful models according to the fashion industry.

I should say here that I am generally a hermit. I don’t go out of my cave much. My wife does most of the shopping, and I certainly have not had any occasion to go into a make up aisle in my memory, except for when helping my mother. I also don’t watch television and use an ad blocker with my browser. I generally am not inundated by commercials or advertisements and have no idea what the latest fashion trends may happen to be. I also work from home and make money through the Internet. In other words, I am totally clueless on the fashion scene and have been blissfully so for decades.

What struck me as we walked through those make up aisles was the eyebrows. When I was growing up, women’s eyebrows were to be neat and relatively tamed. My father worked with this one guy who had veritable caterpillers of eyebrows, and unfortunately, his lovely daughter had inherited that trend. Now, I only remember meeting her once when she was twelve or thirteen, but I am certain that as she got older, she took efforts to control and tame those eyebrows. But she was the only female human I ever saw with such robust eyebrows. As I walked through the make up aisles, I saw eyebrows like hers on every model. I even stopped at one advertisement where it showed how to create these great woolly caterpillers to crawl across one’s face. It was like someone in the fashion industry suddenly decided that Frida Kahlo was their It Girl. What are these people thinking?

The fashion industry is in business to sell products. To sell more products, they vary the fashions from year to year. You certainly can’t be seen in last year’s styles, they’ll tell women and the nancy boys who pay attention to that sort of thing. The make up business is also in business to sell products. The more of their products they can get you to use, the better for them. What better way to do that than to promulgate some unnatural fashion trend that requires a lot of make up? Such as painting half one’s forehead the color of terminal hair that is only on a small patch of the face, for instance? Still, I suspect this trend will pass given a little time. Next up, we’ll have the trend of painting the whole face white with a few spots of red to look like a clown, as they did in Good Queen Bess’ time or in certain periods of Japanese history. These things come and go.

It is like the trend of skinny, narrow-hipped models in the fashion industry. I know that it has been a trend for more than fifty years now. One might speculate that it is partially fueled by fashion designers, both male and female, who like men and so want their models to look more like men. Other speculations might be even less charitable, but we needn’t go there. What is important is that this trend will not last forever. Why? Because we all know what is really beautiful.

What constitutes beauty in the long term is programmed in by our genes. What we know to be beautiful is determined by selective pressure to breed. Our genes want us to pass them on. If a guy liked women who had narrow hips and carried very little fat, in the old days his genes would probably not get passed on. Why? Because narrow hips mean a narrow birth canal and harder and fewer successful births. What about women with no fat? Well, no fat, no breast milk for the child. In many cultures through the ages, fat has been seen as a sign of prosperity. When the lean times come, and throughout human history they have come frequently, people who have easily stored fat have survived better, as have their children. More surviving children equals more of those genes passed on through the ages.

While there are some random quirks in the evolution of beauty, the reality usually comes down to signals of health and fitness to breed. The plumage of many species of male birds declares that these individuals are fit enough to invest resources in display. A healthy, wide-hipped, well-padded woman has the signs of a breeder, and nothing the fashion industry does can change that long-term. We know the truth.

Published in Group Writing
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  1. Profile photo of Judge Mental Member

    I could explain the caterpillar eyebrow thing to you, but I wouldn’t want you to think I’m a nancy boy.

    • #1
    • August 12, 2017 at 2:36 am
    • Like3 likes
  2. Profile photo of Percival Thatcher

    They’re all trying to be Ava Gardner?

    Big mistake. Even Ava Gardner could only pull of being Ava Gardner now and then.

    • #2
    • August 12, 2017 at 2:39 am
    • Like8 likes
  3. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    This is part of Ricochet’s Group Writing Series. Group Writing was founded several years ago by a Ricochet member, and ever since then it has been coördinated by various volunteers from the Ricochet community. Likewise, all of the articles are written by volunteers. If you are a Ricochet member and reading this, why not join us and sign up for Group Writing? It appears there are still six openings in August in the future, and for those with time machines, there are four openings that have already passed. Why not make @grosseteste‘s life a little easier and sign up today? After all, within a few days he should be putting up the September topic and sign-up sheet. He can’t do that with so many open slots in August. Get that man out of his summer doldrums.

    • #3
    • August 12, 2017 at 2:40 am
    • Like1 like
  4. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Judge Mental (View Comment):
    I could explain the caterpillar eyebrow thing to you, but I wouldn’t want you to think I’m a nancy boy.

    No, only if you kept up with the latest fashions without being required to do so with a job would you be a nancy boy. You are free to explain any given trend without incurring calumny. If you bring in science, it is even better.

    For instance, during times when most men are clean-shaven, a man with a beard is seen as more attractive and a bit daring. The same is true in times where most men have beards and a man goes clean-shaven. In that case, the science favors the oddball.

    • #4
    • August 12, 2017 at 2:44 am
    • Like2 likes
  5. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Percival (View Comment):
    They’re all trying to be Ava Gardner?

    Big mistake. Even Ava Gardner could only pull of being Ava Gardner now and then.

    If you mean the eyebrows, she isn’t in the competition these days. Seriously, go walk through the make-up aisles. It’s impressive. More like this:

    Frida-Kahlo-frida-kahlo-172270_845_1181

    • #5
    • August 12, 2017 at 2:46 am
    • Like1 like
  6. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    We have threading (generally for eyebrows).I had no idea what it was when I first saw a salon, but it seems to be the opposite of the look you’re talking about.

    BTW, it’s my impression (as a male) that there’s a difference between bone structure and being “well padded” in terms of facilitating childbirth. A wider bone structure in the hips and primarily pelvis does help, but I’m not sure that has to do with the “padding” over the bone structure.

    • #6
    • August 12, 2017 at 3:02 am
    • Like3 likes
  7. Profile photo of Cat III Member

    Women: men are clueless and can’t understand us.

    Also women: straight guys are enamored of fashion shows and beauty pageants so that’s the benchmark against which we’ll judge our own appearance.

    • #7
    • August 12, 2017 at 3:22 am
    • Like2 likes
  8. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    A wider bone structure in the hips and primarily pelvis does help, but I’m not sure that has to do with the “padding” over the bone structure.

    That is correct. The padding has other uses, including milk production. So, it is still a survival issue. I seem to remember an interview with Mrs. Michael Douglas (Catherine Zeta-Jones) some months after she had had a child. The interviewer asked her something about breast-feeding the child. Her reply was something along the lines of, It’s not just for the child’s benefit that I am doing it, it’s like a natural form of liposuction vacuuming the pregnancy weight right off my hips.

    • #8
    • August 12, 2017 at 3:35 am
    • Like1 like
  9. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Cat III (View Comment):
    Women: men are clueless and can’t understand us.

    Also women: straight guys are enamored of fashion shows and beauty pageants so that’s the benchmark against which we’ll judge our own appearance.

    Women certainly do not understand men. They project their own complexities onto us. We are very simple creatures. If something moves, it captures our attention. From there, the only question is whether to kill it and eat it or breed with it.

    • #9
    • August 12, 2017 at 3:37 am
    • Like5 likes
  10. Profile photo of Cat III Member

    I like big noses. I wonder if that’s an evolutionary adaptation for that.

    • #10
    • August 12, 2017 at 3:53 am
    • Like3 likes
  11. Profile photo of Cat III Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    From there, the only question is whether to kill it and eat it or breed with it.

    I save time on making such judgments and just do all three.

    • #11
    • August 12, 2017 at 3:55 am
    • Like2 likes
  12. Profile photo of Randy Webster Member

    Cat III (View Comment):
    Women: men are clueless and can’t understand us.

    This.

    Some of us got taken to lunch by one our vendors’ salesmen, who’s a woman. We started talking about how women dress for other women, not for men. She didn’t agree, but she was the only one who knew what color the blouse was of one of the women in our office, even though she’d been there 20 minutes, and we’d been there all morning.

    Don’t even get into shoes.

    • #12
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:03 am
    • Like16 likes
  13. Profile photo of Randy Webster Member

    Cat III (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):
    From there, the only question is whether to kill it and eat it or breed with it.

    I save time on making such judgments and just do all three.

    I think praying mantises do, too.

    • #13
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:13 am
    • Like3 likes
  14. Profile photo of Trink Reagan

    Arahant:

    A healthy, wide-hipped, well-padded woman has the signs of a breeder, . . . . . . We know the truth.

    Ouch. Sometimes the truth huurrrrts 😉

    • #14
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:20 am
    • Like3 likes
  15. Profile photo of Vectorman Thatcher

    Brooke Shields also went with natural eyebrows:

    At the time she started (~1980), many women would pluck out most (if not all!) of their eyebrows and use a makeup pencil to get the shape they wanted. I thought it was silly and preferred whatever G_d gave them, i.e., their inner beauty.

    • #15
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:23 am
    • Like4 likes
  16. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Cat III (View Comment):
    I like big noses. I wonder if that’s an evolutionary adaptation for that.

    No idea on that one. I do know that in an Italian genetic study, they found a gene that seemed to create men who liked men in some families. What they found was that the sisters of those men also really liked men and bred prodigiously. So, the gene was not being spread by the men, but it was certainly being spread by their sisters.

    • #16
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:30 am
    • Like1 like
  17. Profile photo of Randy Webster Member

    Vectorman (View Comment):
    At the time she started (~1980), many women would pluck out most (if not all!) of their eyebrows and use a makeup pencil to get the shape they wanted. I thought it was silly and preferred whatever G_d gave them, i.e., their inner beauty.

    I understand that some women have eyebrows tattooed on now.

    • #17
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:32 am
    • Like3 likes
  18. Profile photo of Trink Reagan

    Arahant: I am totally clueless on the fashion scene and have been blissfully so for decades.

    I have none of your excuses and am at least as clueless as you. My sister-in-law recently studied my “look” and surmised: “That blouse wears you.”

    For the life of me . . . I don’t know what she’s talking about and don’t give a rodent’s rear end.

    • #18
    • August 12, 2017 at 4:45 am
    • Like8 likes
  19. Profile photo of OldDan Rhody Member

    I clicked on the fat-bottomed girls tag and this is the only posting that came up. How long has Ricochet been in existence, and this is the first? Also,

    Trink (View Comment):

    Arahant:

    A healthy, wide-hipped, well-padded woman has the signs of a breeder, . . . . . . We know the truth.

    Ouch. Sometimes the truth huurrrrts 😉

    The key word here is “healthy.”

    • #19
    • August 12, 2017 at 5:32 am
    • Like5 likes
  20. Profile photo of Grosseteste Member

    I do wonder how you can put in the time to perfectly shape big black wedges over your eyes and not look at yourself afterward thinking “no, I can’t go out like this.”

    Stuff like this, which I see once in a while:

    To be fair, she looks like she’s not entirely happy with it.

    Thanks for doing the plug yourself, Arahant, and thanks for the post!

    • #20
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:20 am
    • Like1 like
  21. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    Cat III (View Comment):
    I like big noses. I wonder if that’s an evolutionary adaptation for that.

    So does Bill Clinton….

    • #21
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:22 am
    • Like3 likes
  22. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Grosseteste (View Comment):
    Thanks for doing the plug yourself, Arahant, and thanks for the post!

    De nada. I know what it takes, and coördinating these series is not an easy thing. We don’t want to lose you through burn out. 😉

    • #22
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:23 am
    • Like2 likes
  23. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    So does Bill Clinton….

    I think Bill Clinton just likes all women. Big noses? Sure. Button noses? Why not? No noses? “Honey, could you wear this bag on your head?”

    • #23
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:25 am
    • Like3 likes
  24. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    The eyebrow thing has been a rage for awhile – the goal is perfection, perfectly shaped, colored and groomed. It doesn’t look natural either – my sister in law has hers tattooed so they are perfect all the time, and I ‘ve hated them ever since but I bite my lip. The prettiest younger women in my opinion wear the least makeup and have natural eyebrows. Older women need a little shaping and filling in, but not much.

    Speaking of men and shopping, I asked my husband last week on the way home, to pick up a fresh head of leaf lettuce and put it in a baggie, and a package of imitation crabmeat in the deli aisle. I described the package and where to find it. He brought home pre-packaged Romaine lettuce and a small cup of fresh lump crabmeat……I asked him if he knew how much it cost? He said no. When I told him the lump crabmeat was $18.99 as opposed to $3.99 he about passed out…….

    PS @arahant you need to get out more!

    • #24
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:33 am
    • Like7 likes
  25. Profile photo of Front Seat Cat Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    So does Bill Clinton….

    I think Bill Clinton just likes all women. Big noses? Sure. Button noses? Why not? No noses? “Honey, could you wear this bag on your head?”

    That’s hilarious!

    • #25
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:33 am
    • LikeLike
  26. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    PS @arahant you need to get out more!

    No, I really don’t. It’s a very strange place outside my cave.

    • #26
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:37 am
    • Like9 likes
  27. Profile photo of Grosseteste Member

    Grosseteste (View Comment):
    I do wonder how you can put in the time to perfectly shape big black wedges over your eyes and not look at yourself afterward thinking “no, I can’t go out like this.”

    The story chain that sprang to mind: bushy eyebrows leads to aggressive plucking leading to panicked regret after going too far, followed by some subtle filling with eyebrow pencil which leads to bigger and more aggressive measures when it’s not shaped right, which ends up with the picture when you realize it’s too late to start over and you have to leave for work. 🙁

    • #27
    • August 12, 2017 at 6:52 am
    • Like2 likes
  28. Profile photo of Arahant Member
    Arahant Post author

    Grosseteste (View Comment):
    The story chain that sprang to mind: bushy eyebrows leads to aggressive plucking leading to panicked regret after going too far, followed by some subtle filling with eyebrow pencil which leads to bigger and more aggressive measures when it’s not shaped right, which ends up with the picture when you realize it’s too late to start over and you have to leave for work.

    That’s as good as any explanation I can posit.

    • #28
    • August 12, 2017 at 7:10 am
    • Like2 likes
  29. Profile photo of Matt Balzer Member

    Arahant: I should say here that I am generally a hermit. I don’t go out of my cave much.

    Not surprised.

    I also don’t watch television and use an ad blocker with my browser.

    If you didn’t use an ad blocker, I’d be even more worried if you were getting fashion ads.

    I generally am not inundated by commercials or advertisements and have no idea what the latest fashion trends may happen to be. I also work from home and make money through the Internet. In other words, I am totally clueless on the fashion scene and have been blissfully so for decades.

    Even if all the things you noted were untrue, I still would expect you to be totally clueless on the fashion scene.

    • #29
    • August 12, 2017 at 7:12 am
    • Like4 likes
  30. Profile photo of Matt Balzer Member

    Arahant (View Comment):
    For instance, during times when most men are clean-shaven, a man with a beard is seen as more attractive and a bit daring. The same is true in times where most men have beards and a man goes clean-shaven. In that case, the science favors the oddball.

    Yeah, well. I happened to come across an old photo ID of mine where I didn’t have a beard, and science or not, I’m thinking it stays.

    • #30
    • August 12, 2017 at 7:14 am
    • Like3 likes
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