Thursday, April 03, 2008

Self-discovery in the Supermarket

So, according to this, it's like this (inter alia):

Men are subconsciously attracted to fairer skin[ned women] because of [the fairer skin's] association with innocence, purity, modesty, virginity, vulnerability and goodness [...]. Women are attracted to men with darker complexions because these are associated with sex, virility, mystery, villainy and danger.

...and...

In effect, a preference for Colin Farrell over Daniel Craig or Monica Bellucci over Michelle Pfeiffer expresses a preference for danger.

Well, I don't know about Farrell and Craig, both of which I find 'average', but then again, I'm not a woman. But I have some fairly firm preferences in the Bellucci vs. Pfeiffer case. Very firm preferences. However, I'll keep the details to myself, if you don't mind.

But listen, how about the Political Incorrectness of it all! I mean, just cop a read of this:

In an analysis of more than 2,000 advertising photographs of men and women, the researchers found that the skin of white women was 15.2 per cent lighter than the skin of white males, and the skin of black women 11.1 per cent lighter than the skin of black men.

Advertising photographs were chosen because almost invariably the models were considered to be among the most attractive people of the races and genders.

And it doesn't end there, because...

[...] women with the darkest complexions were more likely to be in an advanced state of undress. They were also more likely to have a bared midriff, and only they are shown with bared feet or are implied to be totally nude.

The darkest-complexioned women in this group were also likely to be provocatively dressed, wearing underwear or similar clothing. Women with the lightest complexion are more likely to be conservatively dressed and portrayed as friendly, happy and honest.

With a researcher concluding that:

Physical lightness and darkness are aesthetic characteristics that... exemplify the link between aesthetic and moral judgements. On average, fair complexions in women are the dominant aesthetic ideal because sexual modesty and conventional femininity are the dominant behavioural ideal for women. However, there also exists an appreciation for a darker complexion in women, though less common, and this less-common aesthetic preference appears to coexist with a view of such women as more overtly sexual... darker women are seen as more promiscuous.

So, guys, who is it to be: Monica Bellucci or Michelle Pfeiffer? Jessica Biel or Nicole Kidman?

And the ladies: Colin Farrell or Daniel Craig? Ewan McGregor or Djimon Honsou?

Next time you glance, surreptitiously I would hope and with due shame, at some of the crappy mags flanking checkout counters—or maybe those you catch a quickie perve of as you wander past stands at the newsagent's or bookshop on your way to the Science or maybe Gardening sections—pause a moment to make your tiny voyeuristic orgasm into a data-collection exercise to determine where you fit into this scheme of things.

Are you Dangerperson ('Monica Bellucci Man' or 'Djimon Honsou Woman') hidden inside a Homebody—or maybe vice versa?

Since most of my readers, according to the map that tracks them, live in those parts of the world for which this study is pertinent, I would suggest that these questions may have relevance; especially since 'the researchers say that many judgements about beauty are made at a conscious level, such as about height, weight, leg length, and the shape of the nose and the mouth. "In contrast, other physical attractiveness ideals, including complexion... are made at the subconscious level," [...] '. So, this may be a way to gauge some of those things about yourself that ordinarily remain below the level of awareness.

So, embark on a journey of self-discovery in your local supermarket! Don't just waste the time spent in queues at the checkout! Don't feel bad about opening up that mag so seductively placed within ready reach and browse it without intent to buy, as you have so often done before—or maybe...ahh, whatever...just throw it into the basket or trolley and hope that no one you know and who might take the piss out of you actually saw you do it. Better even: now you can buy this shit and think of it as your very personal 'research material' to probe into the depths of your own psyche! Or maybe the dismal bilges of the psyches of those publishing this junk.

But is it really junk? After all, the researchers in the article referred to at the top and quoted from at length, would have spent considerable time wading through similar materials. So, why not you?

But...

OMG, what have I done?!

Despite the disparaging attributes I have attached to the magazines in question, might I with this blog actually be actively contributing to increasing their circulation by providing those who would ordinarily have resisted, for reasons of shame if nothing else, to buy these rags, with gratuitous motivation for putting them onto the conveyor?

I hope not. Besides, it's probably enough if you just sneak a peek while waiting for the person ahead of you to finish loading their, overflowing of groceries onto the conveyor belt. And the next time you watch some dumb-ass show like the Academy Awards or Golden Globes—where everyone and sundry and the women above all, of course, are dressed up to the gazoo in what often are unbelievably awful dos—have a good look at who wears what and how this relates to what you've just read.

And not just that. There's a whole world of sociological observation opportunities opening up here, all provided by your local TV stations. For it isn't just possible correlations between the way people, and especially female people, are dressed and how that relates to the issues discussed above, but also how the witless reporters who interview them actually treat the interviewees; what kind of questions they ask; the body language; and so on. I'm sure there's ample more material for fascinating studies, some of which you might wish to conduct yourselves.

Or pretend to conduct, anyway...

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