It’s easy to write off the gay community’s “obsession” with body image as just one of those things we’ve picked up from media or chalk it up to our innate knack for style.
But our preferences have some real roots in science that can be helpful to keep in mind in regards to self-image.
This morning I Googled images of Henry Cavill.
Not research for this article, but because his face came up in an ad somewhere and I forgot how damn good looking he is!
What is it about that face in particular that the majority of us would think is attractive?
Studies show that recognizing handsome traits has many factors, lots of which are built into our genetics; and then the attraction to a person is further shaped by positive, or reinforcing, life experiences with a “type”.
Our brains are scanning thousands of faces daily, and from this finding it averages out what it thinks to be attractive.
One of the most common things it’s searching for is facial symmetry.
When infants were shown images of the same face, but with distorted symmetries in one, their eyes lingered longer over the conventionally good-looking ones with even proportions.
This explains a lot of the plastic surgery we get in search of some ideal layout.
When there is lopsidedness in the face it’s reflecting the development in the womb, and that some type of poor health, DNA , or even substance abuse may have caused it.
Our bodies are trying to find good partners to mate with at the end of the day so genetics are important to that end.
Even women with symmetrical breasts are not only perceived as more attractive, they also have higher rates of fertility so our bodies recognize this.
There are further physical markers that we are hard wired to notice, like the relationship between a man’s ring finger and index finger.
If in the womb he was exposed to higher levels of testosterone, the ring finger should be longer than the index.
If we were living in tribes and looking for aggressive protectors this could be important, and why men with this ratio are perceived as better looking in studies.
Genetics aside, even just knowing what it takes for someone with a good body to attain that shape, can be attractive.
You assume they are living active lifestyles, eating food that is good for their bodies, taking a level of care for themselves that also shows a measure of self-worth.
These are traits that we usually find attractive, especially when you consider their opposites and what that might mean about a person’s character.
But none of these are actual indicators of character. That girl with the great butt in her yoga pants, with the symmetrical face, might be a total jerk!
So knowing that we hardwired to have preferences is good.
But remembering that we are not in a tribe hunting for mates that kill the most gazelles is also important.
We have developed brains that can reason and it’s up to us to filter out some of the crazy.
Maybe someone’s face isn’t typically attractive, it doesn’t mean that their true character isn’t awesome and we may be attracted to them this way.
At the end of the day, I’d much rather be next to someone with something to offer by who they are not just how they were put together.