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Post No.: 0555appearance


Fluffystealthkitten says:


We tend to see that, as the basic necessities become easier to secure within a country, as the environment and life becomes less tough – people gradually dedicate more time towards their own physical appearance, when before their time was more sensibly dedicated towards working hard to simply survive. So it’s not that people in ‘developing’ countries are inherently less physically attractive – they just haven’t spent as much time on their own appearance throughout their lives.


Thus, typically, those who are relatively affluent have more time and means to look after their own appearance, and care more about their appearance when trying to attract and select mates; whilst those who are relatively less affluent care more imperatively about traits that’ll truly help with raising a family – factors like loyally providing for a family in tough circumstances – and selecting a mate based on their appearance is less important.


Wherever natural selection survival pressures are relatively high, like they were for human ancestors for many millennia, one cannot really fake it too superficially i.e. ‘looking’ or ‘sounding’ like a good hunter wasn’t good enough – one had to actually be a good hunter to survive. Hence in such environmental conditions, if one looked or sounded the part, one highly likely was the part. An ‘if she/he looks like a successful provider then she/he is one’ assumption thus worked quite reliably. As a cognitive shortcut, this instinct saves thinking time and energy too.


But the human world has changed dramatically particularly over the past few millennia, with gigantic technological advances in e.g. makeup, surgery and image manipulation. Even attending a modern gym to build big muscles won’t itself mean that one could build a shelter with one’s own hands or fend off a wild animal to protect one’s family. So people can nowadays so easily look the part but not be the part. (Any exercise is still good though.)


And a few millennia hasn’t been long enough in evolutionary terms to update these instincts to keep up with this changing environment, especially because survival pressures have generally decreased (survival has generally gotten easier) for humans during this time (e.g. agricultural revolutions have made food supply more secure) i.e. if people aren’t dying off or having fewer children for being duped by fakery then their genetic instincts aren’t going to be taken out of the gene pool and they’ll in fact continue to propagate. People will continue to intuitively believe that ‘looks like’ means ‘is’.


So because humans haven’t genetically evolved enough since ancestral times, people still largely instinctively trust in what they superficially see in others, hence being a surface-faker is a successful sexual selection strategy against those who overly instinctively judge with their eyes when selecting potential mates. And it efficiently saves energy to merely look and sound the part than to be the part if it sufficiently works to fool others too. The cost is also relatively low for those who pick mates who ‘look the part but aren’t the part’ in an easy survival environment because even if you pick someone who couldn’t actually build a fire or forage safe foods to eat, they could just order takeout!


It’s inferred that if a person can spend so much time on their own appearance then they must have food, shelter, etc. security already sorted out and can comfortably provide for any offspring. But they could be in debt? And wouldn’t it be even better if wealthy people spent their resources on more critical, less shallow, pursuits or endeavours in the world? Wouldn’t that be even more attractive? Someone could in reality be super-attractive as a mate for dedicating their life towards a greater cause than their own selfish or vain interests, but they’ll look a bit rougher than others for it! You don’t have to be rich to be vain nowadays anyway, or even healthy.


We should be attracted to what’s healthy, and e.g. anabolic steroid abuse, dangerous crash diets, laxative abuse or voluntarily going under the surgical knife for the sake of purely cosmetic purposes is not healthy and therefore shouldn’t be attractive in a mate we’d like to share our genetic material with. We shouldn’t want our own children being similarly insecure – whether it’s a function of their inherited genetics and/or upbringing. Yet, without applying critical thinking, it’s difficult to override these ancient instincts that judge too heavily according to superficial information. The culture also reinforces shallowness via gene-culture co-evolution.


So the instincts related to sexual selection can be so divorced from what we should (rationally) find desirable in a mate in a natural selection sense, that they can lead us totally astray. People can find someone attractive even if they do unhealthy things to themselves in order to superficially ‘appear healthy’. Such practices won’t improve their genetic fitness, or the fitness of their prospective offspring together, which is what it’s all supposedly ultimately about. People should ultimately logically want to choose a truly healthy mate in body and mind, and this includes someone who’s strong and mentally secure enough to opt not to put themselves at needless health and/or financial risk by getting physically cut up for purely cosmetic appearance reasons.


Many people say they don’t do it for others but for themselves, but that’s only because the instinct is such an ingrained genetic instinct – just like people mightn’t understand why they adore little furry mammals so much. Meow!


No one’s physically perfect so we should rather be more attracted to someone who’s mentally strong enough to refuse cosmetic surgery compared to someone who takes it and ends up looking supposedly more externally attractive. The crude substitution heuristic makes people strongly assume that ‘someone who looks fit is always someone who is fit’ – but if something looks like a duck then it might not be a duck, or there can sometimes be smoke without fire, as it were. We’re trying to judge deep traits based on shallow information, and that’s bound to produce frequent errors. This all really extends on Post No.: 0462.


Now it’s not nice to feel so insecure about oneself, and it’ll be a mental health issue if one will go as far as wanting to do unhealthy or needlessly risky things to oneself in order to merely ‘look healthy’. From this perspective, far more people have mental health problems than we think in modern society. But when something is considered culturally ‘normal’, we don’t call it a disorder.


What’s strange is that even when people know that someone has e.g. fake breasts or uses risky performance-enhancing substances, they might still find them physically attractive as potential mates – even when they know that their genetics (the bit that has a chance of actually physically and directly passing onto any offspring) aren’t as great as they’re trying to pretend they are, and even when we therefore know that they’re intentionally using deception to fool us(!)


Fake enlarged penises aren’t going to improve fertility and fake enlarged breasts aren’t going to feed any babies better – they might even do the opposite. But this is the free market. Someone who deliberately bleaches their skin isn’t going to suddenly pass genetically lighter skin onto their offspring. They might pass on any genes related to their mental insecurities though; although these insecurities are partly sown by the environment too – in this case, by a culture of vanity and everyone judging everyone too heavily according to the way they look.


We really shouldn’t find (at least more) attractive someone who cheats themselves and tries to cheat others. We should prefer someone who’s honest – even if they have a bit of flab, some wrinkles or blemishes. Instead, honest people and people who’d rather spend their time on more important things or on others, rather than on superficial things or on themselves, generally get punished rather than rewarded in this game. (So lots of people say they admire honesty, yet don’t seem to be aware of how much they prefer to fall for the fake when it comes to their actual decisions! Or does being honest about one’s dishonesty make it okay?!)


Washing is important. A bit of grooming is fine too, but some spend way too much time every day on their own appearance, and this includes men. Indeed, it’s generally regarded as unattractive when someone spends too much time on their own appearance – but maybe not enough because lots of people are playing the exact same game themselves!


Having spots/pimples showing doesn’t make someone a bad or dirty person, and covering them up won’t suddenly make them a better or cleaner person (especially when makeup products can be riddled with bacteria). A very wonky nose might functionally affect your breathing but what does having a slightly wonky nose mean? Does it mean you’re a serial rapist and like to set babies on fire?(!) Would having a straighter nose suddenly make you a kinder and smarter person?


So if someone doesn’t fancy you because of some shallow reason (and this includes a racist or even gold-digger reason too) then it’s okay because we logically shouldn’t care whether ****s fancy us because why would we want to date a ****? It therefore naturally sorts itself out – cavepeople can continue mating with other cavepeople. Even if you’re considered pretty and people fancy you without really knowing you deeply, you can be sure they like to judge other people in an equally superficial manner too, and their eyes will likely wander as they one day get bored of you or find someone they consider more physically attractive. It’s nice to be complimented on the way one looks but it’s demeaning to be reduced to primarily or only the way one looks too, even if one looks handsome – as if one doesn’t have more interesting traits one probably worked harder for and is more proud of. And there’s got to be far more about you that your partner finds attractive otherwise, come the day you become old and wrinkly, or possibly physically deformed from an accident (hopefully not), they might cease to care about you.


Feeling body confident is vital but that’s a state of mind rather than body. Other people will judge us but it’ll speak more about them than us, even if they don’t realise that. They don’t know you yet they’ve already judged you based on your appearance. Still, because it can prejudicially affect how well we get treated in life, we might think we might as well – or are forced to – play the game too. It therefore requires an entire culture to change, and no one can do that alone.


In conclusion, trusting these caveperson instincts is just too irresistible for many, and that’s why the many industries for fakery are booming even though people know and accept they’re selling fake. (Makeup can be art though and not just used as a mask.) In a natural selection context, it’d be equivalent to a country pretending to have lots of nuclear weapons but they’re really just inflatable props, and then other countries knowing they’re just inflatable props yet still being scared of that country(!) We can understand how these instincts evolved and why they persist (because people aren’t dying from these overly-crude intuitions and they’re still reproducing and having offspring nonetheless hence it’s not optimal but it’s not killing people off either) but sexual selection is weird when we take a step back and question these instincts!


It’s education and critical thinking that refines our beliefs – learning that it’s ultimately pretty but so what in terms of what should really matter more? Most people do care about other people’s truly deeper traits as well, and it’s not like zero can be gleaned about someone’s health via their appearance, but perhaps the balance is a little too skewed towards the superficial in these modern times. Just got to hope that people’s lives don’t suddenly change for the tougher.




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