spock: logic is sexy

The attractiveness poll made me thinky

The attractiveness poll is having its final showdown right now if you haven't voted. There is a long and delicious picspam for your viewing pleasure. Doing this poll was far more fun than I expected. Googling for pictures of attractive people is an excellent hobby! I even started collecting pictures for a second edition, but I'm going to wait awhile since another ten days of polls would probably start getting old for everyone involved.

As much fun as this poll has been, it's also made me think about a lot of things. Announcing to the world who and what you find attractive in another human being is a curiously vulnerable experience. Nobody ever said anything that made me feel bad, but at least in the early rounds, I felt this constant nagging worry that people looked at my choices and thought, "um, really?" That's partly because of one of the biggest things I learned: that I am attracted to many people who are either not objectively attractive or not particularly photogenic. Gail Simmons, Eric Ripert, and Anthony Bourdain are all prime examples. It seems that I especially like prominent noses. And also the things that turn me on about a person, like intelligence, competence, bluntness, and culinary skills, are not readily visible in photos. When I tried to say to myself, "no, really, just pick people who are physically attractive," I couldn't do it -- because a lot of the time, I don't know whether I'm looking at someone's body or personality. At our weekly Top Chef watch party, I went on and on about how beautiful I thought Tiffany was, and people looked at me questioningly. The verdict was, "yeah, she's all right." Part of my attraction was to her curvy body, but it had never occurred to me that her face wasn't ravishingly beautiful (by commonly held social standards anyway). Padma Lakshmi, on the other hand, meets a lot of society's standards of beauty, but I never thought about that until I read her Vogue article about her scar.


Doing this poll also made me think about race and attraction. I included six men and three women, which felt like a good fit for my sexual orientation, even though I had initially wanted to include three more women -- Kandyse McClure from Battlestar Galactica, Tiffany from this season's Top Chef, and Sunny Anderson from Food Network. Unfortunately, the first website I visited for a photo of Kandyse gave my computer a virus (though an easily cured one), and the next two websites I tried to click on were described as "unsafe for my computer." At that point, I gave up. Then I discovered that the only photos of Tiffany were weird overdone ones from the Bravo website, and Sunny Anderson's Food Network photos are hideously airbrushed and don't show off her voluptuous body.

The point of all this accounting? I noticed immediately that my male selections were overwhelmingly Caucasian. Tahmoh Penikett identifies as a person of color because of his mother's heritage, and I don't want to make assumptions about Eric Ripert since I couldn't find any information about his ancestry. That means four or five of the six men I selected were white. That made me wonder what kind of subtle social conditioning might be at work in me, and, even more interestingly, why it seemed to influence my attraction to men far more than my attraction to women. Two of the three women in my poll were women of color, and if I had been able to include everyone I had wanted to, it would have been five out of six. Maybe same-sex attraction is sufficiently far out of the social mainstream to escape racially-based social conditioning? Or maybe my attraction to curvy women, like Tiffany and Sunny Anderson, trumps social pressure to be drawn toward people of a certain race?

And all of that leaves me with a big, intriguing-yet-likely-unanswerable question: if we lived in a society of perfect equality, would everyone's polls reflect an even mix of all races, or would we still be drawn toward people whose skin color is similar to our own?
I'm glad you brought all this up--I won't go so far as to say that the attractiveness polls made me nervous, but it did poke at my anxiety levels a wee bit. I kept being afraid that all the POC would be voted off the island first, and I would have chalked that up to everyone sekritly hating POC whether it was true or not.

I was too lazy to do all the html work that went into making one of these. But my list was: Rachael Luttrell, Daniel Henney, Amerie, Deepika Paduone, Meiko Kaji,Christina Hendricks, Joaquin Phoenix, Benjamin Bratt, Hugh Jackman, Morris Chestnut
I've always thought about this too, with this meme. I think for me it's a matter of exposure. I feel like I'm just as drawn to women of color as to white women, attractiveness-wise (I've never had a problem finding WOC attractive), but there are just *less* of them that I see on television/in movies. And I need a certain amount of exposure before I can go beyond "Yeah, they're attractive".
This point is especially obvious when you pick someone gorgeous, then have to repeat a picture of them because they haven't gotten to be in as many photoshoots.
I haven't done this in part because I am not brave enough to put What I Find Attractive up for public scrutiny, ie, not as brave as you've been. I mentioned to Thistlerose how many "so and so isn't hot" comments she got and how I admired her patience with them, as I would have kneecapped some of those commenters.

And ah, race, attractiveness, and society. I applaud you for facing that thicket; here's a bag of trail mix and a flashlight. *hugs you for luck*

(PS I hear you on being unable to separate personality from physical appearance when determining attractiveness. I can't/don't either.)
Well, all I have to say is that every time I voted on that poll it was damn hard. DAMN HARD. And for some reason your posting the polls caught me in a series of punchy moods, so was probably a little more flippant than usual when commenting, so hopefully my saying Eric Ripert looked like a chipmunk in one of his pictures didn't piss you off. If so, I'm sorry. I...do not generally think he looks like a chipmunk. It was just the one picture.

I am way too lazy to do a similar poll (I would face HTML fail of epic proportions, I'm sure), but this post has made me think about how my choices would skew. If I was asked point blank to name five men and five women I found attractive, I think I'd be surprised at the homogeneity of the men I picked. I think that is generally where the socialization creeps in for me, too, and I'm not sure why.
This would be my comment about the one person whose name is escaping me; I couldn't tell enough about her from still photographs to know.

My current list of ten are:

Male
Karl (duh - but so so much of this has to do with how much of a geek he comes across in interviews and other people's stories of him)
Aldis Hodge
Christian Kane
Eric Roberts (please don't ask me to explain this one)
Ed Norton's eyelashes

Which is one POC for sure (Aldis), one person with American First Nations Blood (Kane) and three people whose ethnic background appears to be white. If I extend the list out to a full ten men, then two more POC show up for sure (Denzel and Don Cheadle), two more white dudes (Matt Bomer and Chris), and one transvestite (Eddie Izzard).

Female
Michelle Rodgriguez (YES OKAY I KNOW SHE VIOLATES THE PERSONALITY RULE)
Monica Raymond (Torres on Lie to Me)
Radha Mitchell
Jewel Staite
Jennifer Morrison

I'm not sure I could come up with five additional women -- maybe Janet Jackson (I haven't seen any recent pictures, but I had a major crush on her in the late 80s early 90s), Faye Dunaway, Lucy Liu, (Resisting the urge to say Betty White), Judi Densch.

I dunno what any of this shows.

Also, I never judge anyone on who they find attractive, because Willem Dafoe falls on and off my list, as does Roberts. Attraction's one of those things I don't have any business judging.
(igrockspock, sorry to go all shouty there *facepalm*)

I know, right? And if you asked me to, I couldn't even really put my finger on what it is about her. (I haven't -- and probably won't -- watched Avatar, though knowing she and Sigourney are both in it is making me waver just a bit [I adore Zoe, but she's not in the "will see a movie for" category. Yet])
*facepalm* I forgot Salma. And Penelope Cruz, too.

I am ashamed.

::Reviews list:: Bump Morrison in favor of Salma; drop Penelope into the "alternates" list.