beauty and The Guardian

Apparently women prefer facial masculinity as a function of national health index. Which is interesting. If you come from a rich, healthy country, you’re more likely to prefer a feminine male face, whereas if you come from a poorer, lower health-index country, you’re more likely to prefer a masculine male face. Okay. Neat.


“When women are choosing a mate, they’re weighing up two different things. On the one hand a really attractive, high genetic quality mate will give them very healthy offspring. On the other, there is getting “investment” from a mate – one who’ll be a good dad,” said Lisa DeBruine, who led the study at Aberdeen University in the UK.

“Men who are really attractive tend to be able to pursue whatever mating strategy is best for them,” she added. “They are more likely to prefer short-term relationships. More feminine men tend to be better providers.”


Didn’t she show, in the study, that neotenous (feminine) male faces are the more attractive ones in the healthy society? So wouldn’t THEY be the ones allowed to pursue the short-term relationships men (apparently) want? Wouldn’t that put the masculine men in the position of provider?

Women tend to prefer (i.e., describe as more attractive) masculinized faces when they’re most fertile, both across their lifespans and across their menstrual cycles. Clearly masculine faces are the “good genes” faces, and specifically the “good immune system” faces. I buy that, I’m convinced. I’ve seen this sort of result a lot.

But okay, so if the square-jawed guys (Daniel Craig, Robert Pattison) are unambiguously the better genes, why do 2 out of 3 Swedish women prefer the dudes with the rounded jaws and the doe eyes (David Mitchell, Daniel Radcliffe)?

Over and over in these abstracts is this assertion that masculine faces and the immune system they represent constitute a trade-off with parental investment. I can’t get my hands on the article at this point, so I can’t figure out exactly why a feminine male face indicates “better provider.” But I do know that they’re not basing it on how people actually behave in long-term relationships.

A lot of mate choice research frustrates me for this reason. In the face research, they ask people, “how appealing is this person for a LTR versus STR?” Evidence from speed-dating indicates that people’s predictions match people’s immediate decisions about attractiveness.

But what happens THEN? ARE baby-faced, neotenous men better long-term partners? When women prefer neotenous men, what exactly are they preferring? A bunch of other research shows that people’s preferences can be trained… so have the rich, healthy women of the world learned that the neotenous guys will Be There For You, whereas the masculinized guys will bolt because there are fertile women elsewhere salivating for their genes?

Is there a relationship between facial masculinization and attachment style??

Have the neotenous men learned that they have to be nice to girls in order to get them to go out with them, and the girls have learned, therefore, that the neotenous guys are nicer?

I have a lot of questions. But really what I want to know is: why does The Guardian do SO MANY stories about this kind of thing, and NYT never does them?