Average Beauty

She once read something about the psychology of beauty. What, if anything, can be said about what we find attractive in others? She couldn’t any longer remember all of what she’d gleaned but a few things still came to mind: There was in the first place rather surprising consistency across cultures regarding good looks. This was so even when it came to groups that were very isolated. Men almost everywhere preferred women with high foreheads, larger eyes, fine noses and cheekbones, full lips, and curvy forms. All such qualities are linked to estrogen levels and greater fertility. No surprise, they are also concentrated among women in their early sexual maturity. 

Whitney, for better or worse, possessed most of these characteristics, but one. The principle of the average. It’s also the average that is preferred–average large eyes, for example, average full lips, etc. Women are found less attractive in direct proportion to any augmentation over the average. And Whitney was a little too curvy. She had her father’s shoulders and grandmother’s heavy bottom. To be sure the general impression she projected was still that of a good-looking woman, but she was conscious of being distinctly flawed.

The Italian Novel


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