Jul 292010

I’ve had a vacation day of watching “Mad Men,” which would have me believe that all men are pigs, so as a countermeasure… So You Think You Can Dance… and science!

Look! It’s Billy and Robert! Each a quintessential model of the two categories of male beauty:

Billy: neotenous beauty, with all the traits we’ve evolved to find irresistable because they’re what babies look like. Big eyes, widely spaced, small chin, small nose, found face. A babyface. Daniel Radcliffe, Vincent Kartheiser… I can’t think of any more. Big eyes, small jaw, round face.

Robert: masculinized beauty. What happens when testosterone gets the better of a baby face. Long face, square jaw, darker skin. Brad Pitt, Robert Redford, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Jon Hamm.

What do they share? They’re highly symmetrical, with every cue of health you could want – clear skin, shiny hair, healthy body composition, strong muscles, masculinized body proportions.

Also: the dance? Basically the most peacock-y of all possible male displays. Strength? Check. Stamina? Check. Virility? Check. If they weren’t on television they could just whip out their dicks and have done with it. Personally, I prefer the dance.

Which do you prefer? Well,apparently if you live in a healthy nation you’re more likely to prefer Billy.

But also if you’re younger you’re more likely to neoteny – hence the (to me) anonymous crop of blond haired, baby-faced boys with shoulders like boulders and abs like cobblestones, handpicked to appeal to a younger and younger audience.

I’ve got a half-written post about the targeting of sexual messages to younger and younger audiences. I’ll finish that one day.

So male display. Like peacocks. We dig it.

emily nagoski

  7 Responses to “male display”

Comments (7)
  1. Even though he’s less neotenous than Billy, I’d say Kent is more of a baby face. In that he looks like a child. Almost alarmingly so…

  2. If this repeats, I’m sorry.

    So, does the attraction to androgynous men fall under neotonous? Because I am hugely aversive to baby-faced men (also, babies, their pudgy softness squicks me), into masculine looking men, but also hugely attracted to androgynous men. I would like to present for your attention Bill Kaulitz, lead singer of German band Tokio Hotel


    not that there is anything wrong with baby-faced men as people, or indeed babies (that a decade won’t cure)

    • Androgynous looks are really just female (yes neotenous) looks; it seems to me that looking androgynous is actually just looking feminine and adult, with the cultural trappings of gender non-normativity. It sounds like what is attractive to you is beautiful adults.

      I bet Daniel Craig was babyfaced when he was younger. He worked out okay. :)

  3. Klaus Nomi for me.

    Wait… did I just say that out loud?

  4. Great dancing. But neither can hold a candle to Jon Hamm as Don Draper… ;)

  5. They’re not pigs… they’re time machines.

  6. well that doesn’t sound so unhealthy then :)

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