Skip to comments.The New American Beauty (UCLA prof defines the new racism)
Posted on 01/19/2003 11:24:47 AM PST by theFIRMbss
TODAYS MOST DESIRABLE LOOK REFLECTS A SPECTRUM OF FEATURES AND SKIN TYPES. UCLA BIOLOGIST JAY PHELAN EXPLAINS THE SCIENCE OF BEAUTY IN A MELTING-POT CULTURE
If biology is destiny, then Jay Phelan believes the inevitable fate of America will be to make peace by making love. With Census figures revealing that mixed-race marriages in the U.S. number 1.5 million and are doubling every decade, and one survey showing that 40 percent of us have dated someone of another race, it seems possible that soon, as Alice Walker has said, there will be one race . . . that will call itself the American race.
The controversial UCLA biology professors ideas are impeccably well-timed. In an era when society has embraced a long roster of multiracial stars like Halle Berry, Tiger Woods, Shakira, and Alicia Keys, when models with dazzlingly varied combinations of skin tone and eye color gaze out from magazine spreads, Phelan has found compelling scientific justification for the cultural moment. In short, he believes people of multiracial heritage are not just inherently more attractive than those who arent, but they are stronger and healthier, too.
The intersection of race and sex is a fittingly high-octane topic for Phelan, whose rock-star good looks and affinity for motorcycles are every bit as attention-getting as his theories about human genetics. (Mean Genes, the best-selling book he co-authored on the evolutionary forces underlying sexuality and other human impulses, landed him on Howard Stern.)
His take on race is based on the idea that mixed or heterozygous populations are physically more symmetrical than their purebred cousins. Phelan first noticed this phenomenon in mice as a Harvard grad student. Later, curious to see how this distinction would bear out in humans, he calculated the symmetry of ninety-nine students of same- and mixed-race parentage by measuring both sides of each subjects body with calipers: wrist and ear width; ear and finger length; ankle, elbow, and foot size. He was struck by the marked differences between the two groups. It was clear that the biracial people were so much more symmetrical, Phelan says.
In the natural world, symmetry is a compelling force. On one hand, it has long been correlated with physical attractionfor instance, hungry bees prefer more symmetrical flowers. In the human realm, numerous studies have found that people who are perceived as good-looking tend to have more symmetrical body parts. When subjects are asked to rank photographs of faces, the ones judged most attractive tend to be most symmetrical. Its as if the brain is wired to subconsciously value symmetry, even when we cant perceive it. The connection between symmetry and attractiveness is real, says Nancy Etcoff, PhD, author of Survival of the Prettiest, about the biology of beauty. Whether youre studying horns, antlers, earlobes, or feet, symmetry is considered beautiful in nature.
Whats more, physical symmetry may also be indicative of an innate biological heartiness, or developmental stability. Genesthe bodys instruction manual for growthcome in pairs, one from each parent. Scientists generally agree that heterozygous populations are better equipped to to deal with toxins, parasites, and other disruptions to normal growth than purebred ones, because their genetic makeup contains different versions of each gene and so weaknesses in one can be corrected by another. So it may be no coincidence that symmetrical men are taller and more muscular than others, Phelan maintains. Even more surprising, one famous study that asked women to rate the scents of T-shirts worn for two nights by forty-one men, found that women nearing ovulation showed a significant preference for more symmetrical men. Another concluded that women achieve more frequent orgasms with symmetrical mates. Symmetry is a measure of overall Darwinian fitness, says Arizona State University evolutionary biologist Joseph Graves, MD. Adds Etcoff, If were looking for healthy, fertile mates, symmetry is a good indicator. In other words, if Phelans thesis bears out, people of mixed race just might have won the genetic lottery.
Phelan knows hes picked up a hot potato. Attempts to study race have long been tainted by association with the Nazi brand of eugenics; the 1994 publication of The Bell Curve proved the issue had lost none of its potency. Phelan has yet to publish his results in a professional journal, but his findings will no doubt raise hackles among his peers. Right wing, left wingeveryones going to hate my idea, Phelan predicts. But I think the movie Bulworth put it best: Everybodys just got to keep f---ing everybody til theyre all the same color.
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but no, you can't call it racism
The reverse situation obtains in many Gulf states, where consanguinous marriages are common than they are here- resulting in an uptick in the number of birth defects.
It averaged out the 'exagerated' features some individuals have. The resulting face would have to be more proportional and thus 'more attractive'. I'm sure the same would work within each individual race (at least to others of that race).
Envious? You should be. We are quietly taking over.
In contrast, the genetic and biological differences between males (of ANY race) and females (of any race) are incredibly profound -- far, far more profound than are the differences between any two males or any two females, regardless of race.
Walker siad that? I didn't know she had it in her to say such a sensible conservative thing.
This is the same as it was always in the US. It used to be, say, an Italian race marrying a Swedish race etc...
Almost everyone American is mixed race.
Having said that, the people who think and talk like this Phelan fellow are goofy and have strange ideas.
I'm here to tell ya!
To my eyes, it looks
like there are three bad things here.
that we "are" our genes.
of these to social theory
about mixed races.
And, possibly most
importantly, a fashion
magazine [!?] that's read
by many millions
of people around the globe
presenting this stuff
as if it is just
passing commentary on
"how to look sexy."
This is politics,
and the magazine's readers
are getting mind-screwed.
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