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The Advice Goddess: March 2019
Wednesday, 06 March 2019 11:58
America's next top (plastic) remodel?

Q: I’m seeing so many women on Instagram who’ve had themselves made over to be super hot through cosmetic surgery and injectable fillers. They all have the same face — with big, luscious lips and huge doll-like eyes. In every shot, they’re in full makeup — crazy eyeliner, tons of contouring. Do guys actually like this plastic Barbie look? Are guys cool with cosmetic surgery in general?
-- Curious

A: If only these women of Instagram were honest in their photo credits: “Hair by Luigi. Makeup by Annabelle. Face by Dow Corning.”

Countless men insist that they prefer “the natural look” — no makeup (let alone surgical re-mod) — yet they never go “Wow...gorgeous!” when you sashay toward them with a face full of unconcealed pimples.

Helpfully, zoologist John R. Krebs and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins explain that “living organisms” can easily be tricked by crude fakes — fakes that bear only the itsy-bitsiest resemblance to the organisms’ real life stimuli.

They give the example of what I call “Popsicle birdie” — how “a black-headed gull will show its normal aggressive response to a stuffed gull’s head mounted on a stick, with no body.” And then there’s the male stickleback fish, which gets red on the underside when in mating mode and will attack any other red-bellied male that enters its territory.

In fact, mail also seems to be a problem — which is to say, a researcher’s male sticklebacks were observed attacking the side of their aquarium when a red mail van passed by the window of the lab. 

Well, guess what, fellow humans: We shouldn’t be too quick to feel superior to our friends with beaks, gills and tails. Krebs and Dawkins note that a man can get “sexually aroused” by a mere photo of a naked woman. Of course, he knows it isn’t an actual woman, but the photo “has enough visual stimuli in common with the real thing to have a similar effect on his physiology.”

Though it’s unlikely that women getting their faces remade in Klonedashian-esque ways are versed in anthropology, the enhancements they’re having done align with the female facial features that anthropologists like Douglas Jones have found are attractive to men across cultures.

These are “neotenous” features —  meaning somewhat babylike ones —  like big eyes, full lips, a small jaw and chin, and clear skin. These features are basically evolution’s billboard, advertising a highly desirable interior — meaning that they are cues to health and fertility. (Of course, men just think HAWWWT.)

However, though men evolved to prioritize looks in a woman, it’s obviously not all they value — especially when they’re hoping to get into a relationship. So these cosmetically and surgically redeveloped features may catch a man’s eye — but then, mentally, he may take a step back: “Oh, wait — she’s gotten all this work done.”

And beyond how we all tend to feel threatened and even angered by fakery, many men see a woman’s extensive re-mod as a red flag, reflecting less-than-healthy psychology — an empty interior hidden behind a fancy paint job and a new, um, deck.

Also, consider that women who get their faces and bodies remade often seem to go by the reality TV standard, which seems to stem from stripper standards — exaggerated in-your-face sexuality. Research by Cari Goetz that I cited in a recent column finds that women with an overtly sexual look are generally not seen as long-term mating material by men.

Though that research explored what women wore — scanty attire — it’s possible that women who wear a pile of makeup, with an overtly sexual look, would trigger the same reaction in men: basically, thumbs-up for a hookup or regular sex sessions — not so much on introducing Mom to a woman who looks as if her work uniform is sequin nipple tassels.

However, there’s a counterpoint to all of this. Consider that it’s now possible, through medical innovation, to survive many diseases and conditions that were usually fatal.

We don’t expect people with diseases to do what’s “natural” — suffer terribly and die. Maybe we’re a little too harsh on women who jump ahead in the beauty hierarchy through cosmetic procedures. (After all, we don’t knock men for using Rogaine, those little blue pills, or deodorant.)

Additionally, maybe stigmatizing any sort of line-jumping stops discussion of the need for restraint in beauty-upgrading. As I see it, the most successful “work” is the sort we don’t notice — women who look like themselves, only, uh, “better rested” or something.

Ultimately, if a woman invites a man to meet her closest relatives, he isn’t at a loss for whether she’s asking him to a family reunion or to hit the aisle in Home Depot where they sell that expandable foam insulation stuff that people spray into their walls.




Bad stare day

Do men fall in love at first sight more than women do? My male friend says it’s mostly men who’ll see a woman from across a room or subway platform and fall for her. Yeah, I know that happens. Don’t women do this, too? Like, a lot?
— Wondering Dude

A guy’s claim of “love at first sight” plays better with the ladies than “I wanted to spend eternity with your boobs.”

Research by psychologists Andrew Galperin and Martie Haselton finds that men, far more often than women, report experiencing “love at first sight.” However, they conceded that “some men might be reporting some episodes of sheer sexual desire as ‘love at first sight.’” (Ya think?)

This sex difference in love at first sight aligns with the different pressures ancestral men and women had to contend with to survive and pass on their genes. Because women alone get pregnant from sex, female emotions evolved to push women to take the slow route in mating — to assess a man over time for his level of commitment and character — lest a woman end up with a baby daddy who’s all “Beep, beep! — I’m outta here” like the Roadrunner.

Men, on the other hand, have an evolved sexual business model of volume and variety (kind of like Walmart). However, because ancestral men could bolt right after sex and still have a chance of leaving surviving descendants, it was in men’s evolutionary interest to hook up with an endless parade of hot-erellas.

As I often mention, female features we think of as beautiful — like youth, clear skin, an hourglass figure, and pillowy lips —are actually cues of health and fertility. So, not surprisingly, male mating imperatives evolved to be visually motivated — “Do you look like the woman for me?” — in a way female ones did not.

Ultimately, though evolved male mating psychology is pushing you — even today — to be eyeball-driven, understanding its origins can help you be mindful to take a step back and put in the time to explore a woman’s character.

This may help keep you from jumping into a relationship with some woman who turns out to be an extremely hot sociopath.

As you might cry to your friends, “I’m so confused; she seemed so genuinely interested in me — wanting to know where I bank, the name of my first pet, and the last four of my Social.”
(c.) 2019, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon


 



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