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February 24, 2005

Gals and Fashion Magazines

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Why are the women in women's-fashion magazines tall and slim -- and not just tall and slim, but soooo tall and soooo slim? If the evo-bio drive of women is to attract males (so as to be able to let those Selfish Genes have their way), then how to explain the bony legs, the androgynous jawlines, the flat chests? Fashion models are often odd-looking creatures, as stylized as Grayhounds and Afghans. Yet the women who enjoy fashion magazines seem to enjoy looking at them.

Why? A typical response to this question attributes a lot of responsiblity to the gay-male presence in fashion. There's certainly a lot to this. But my own impression is that, while gay tastes are part of the equation, they don't explain everything. The women buying these magazines and ordering from these catalogs are, after all, getting some pleasure out of looking at the images they contain. So I think elements in addition to the gay-thing must play a role too. Tall, slim girls do show clothes off beautifully. Jawlines and cheekbones do supply beautiful canvases for makeup artists, and do take light beautifully.

I find it telling that no fashion magazine has been able to make a commercial go of it by showcasing women with "normal" figures. The occasional break from tall-and-skinny seems to work well with readers, but a constant diet of normal figures means commercial death.

There's a long foodchain of audiences and producers that need to be taken into account when fashion is being discussed. This isn't a simple market of producers and consumers. It's a Rubik's Cube of a market, involving many, many layers of producers and consumers. Clothes designers, magazine and catalog editors, retail buyers, finance people, subordinates, magazines and catalog art directors, advertisers -- as well as, finally, the gal on the street who chooses one fashion magazine rather than another. It can be hard to pick out from this bazaar a single factor that's driving the field. It seems to me safest to assume that they're all contributing factors.

My own modest theory is that fashion magazines are to women what magazines about computers (and porno) are to guys -- they're fantasy books. It's just that women's fantasies -- many women's fantasies, anyway -- concern being photographed (ie., desired) and looking glamorous (ie., desirable). Where guys seem to enjoy imagining what they'd do to and with what's in the picture, women seem prone to imagine being what's pictured.

There's an additional fantasy element too, which is autonomy. Part of what women fashion-magazine fans seem to enjoy imagining is the fantasy of being found glamorous purely for its own sake. They seem to want to forget about the pleasing-guys element. There's a little defiance in the fantasy -- and you can see the defiance in many of the kicky poses and attitudes the models strike.

Perhaps something that helps explain the appeal of these images is that not only do many women enjoy imagining looking like these models, they enjoy imagining feeling like them too. I think guys often forget what a weighty and earthbound thing it can be, being a gal. There's so much dreariness to contend with: fatbags, hormones, moods, emotional agonies, etc. Women are weighed down by a lot of burdens, or at least they feel that they are, which is good enough for the purposes of my attempt at an explanation here.

The gals in the pages of fashion magazines and catalogs aren't weighed down by anything, not even flesh. They burst out of cabs, they leap onto sidewalks, they let loose with irrepressible guffaws, they're caught by insistent cameras looking their klutzy-but-charming best; they're tall and slim, and they're feelin' good and they're lookin' ready to dazzle. The girls in the pix get to enjoy the champagne-and-cocaine fun parts of being a grownup woman. They aren't saddled with fat asses and wobbly upper arms, with PMS, with no-good boyfriends and lecherous bosses, with imperfect features, with senseless mood swings, etc.

What the fashion mags are selling is, to some extent, a fantasy of play and freedom. Which, come to think of it, is (in a general sense) pretty much what men's magazines sell too. Many guys enjoy indulging in fantasies about utopia -- a male utopia full of gadgets and sex-without-consequences. Many gals love indulging in fantasies about utopia too -- a female utopia, where the fantasizer is carefree and irresistably desirable 24/7.

My hunch: perhaps superslim-and-supertall are a visual representation of carefree-and-desirable. Can anyone volunteer other and better hunches about this?

BTW, a pretty-good movie whose portrayal of the fashion biz is bang-on is "Perfume" -- in terms of how it portrays the business and the people, it's like a documentary. In fact, it's a terrific-looking, semi-improvised, sociological/satirical, Altman-ish thing. But I enjoyed it much more than I did Altman's own fashion-world movie, "Ready to Wear."



posted by Michael at February 24, 2005


erm hasnt your wife hit you over the head for writing this yet?

wait what kind of fashion magazines are you talking about? W, or Jane? or the Cosmo ilk?

because there's a big backlash against some of the cosmoish mags for being well poisonous to women... whenever i paw through them they're not female equivalents of porn but um male equivalents too, just more words...

Posted by: azad on February 24, 2005 02:59 AM

Above-average height and slim women will indeed show off clothes well, but there is a notable difference between slim women and skinny fashion models, and female models do not have to be as tall as men in order to look graceful. Besides, feminine jawlines and feminine cheekbones serve make-up artists well and also reflect light adequately.

You write, “Interesting that no fashion magazine has been able to make a commercial go of it showcasing women with "normal" figures no?” Well, if by normal you mean the typical physique, then it should not be surprising, given that the typical physique is not very attractive and may border on the overweight. If by normal you mean biologically normal, then there are magazines who showcase women with biologically normal physiques; these are usually pornographic magazines or magazines such as Maxim.

You talk about the “foodchain of audiences and producers,” and say, “There are many layers. Clothes designers, editors, finance people, subordinates, magazines designers, advertisers -- and then, finally, the gal on the street who picks one fashion magazine rather than another. It can be hard to pick out from this which influence is most driving the field; safer to assume that they're all contributing.”

Well, it is not hard to figure out the major driving influence. Fashion magazines are mainly about fashion (mostly clothing). Therefore, the clothes designers (mostly gay men) are the most potent force behind the choice of models. The editors had better please their [unofficial] bosses (fashion designers) who are responsible for the existence of the magazines in the first place by providing what these magazines pitch: clothing. The finance people are primarily concerned with the financial aspects of running a magazine, not the contents of the magazine, which is the concern of the editors. The subordinates do mechanical work, not entrepreneurial work and are not the decision makers. The magazine designers are primarily concerned with putting together the package in a visually appealing format, a package sent to them by the editors. The advertisers are concerned with sales, not with how the sales are achieved as long as the methods are legal and not politically incorrect. And finally, the women who buy fashion magazines do so to get hints on how to make themselves more presentable to men, how to appear as having high status, and pick-up stuff on relationships; they do not chose the looks of high fashion models. If some fashion magazines out there typically depicted feminine and attractive models and had similar other content compared to the present fashion magazines, then these magazines would be very successful, but there are few heterosexual men in the right positions out there to maintain such magazines. Heterosexual men who could be good fashion designers mostly would rather do something more manly.

Posted by: Erik Holland on February 24, 2005 03:12 AM

Azad -- That's a whole new development, the hyper-aggressive, post-Riot-Grrl fashion-esque magazine. I confess I haven't made much sense of them, have you? I don't find their version of uninhibitedness much more appealing than what they seem to be rebelling against. Not that my reaction matters, of course. The Wife gets a kick out of swapping impressions about fashions and and fashion too.

Erik -- I agree that the gay element in the fashion biz is an important factor in the tall-and-thin fashion-model look (as well as much else in that world). I just don't think it's the only factor. If the images produced by the fashion biz really didn't appeal to hetero women, then they wouldn't buy the fashion magazines many of them do. There simply aren't any fashion magazines for women that showcase semi-normal-shaped women -- I can't believe that that's entirely a consequence of the gay factor. Why should it be, when so many other factors are at play, including the tastes of the straight women who buy the magazines and leaf through the catalogs? I think your analysis of how the fashion biz works needs a little tweaking. I'm no pro, but I know a few people in the biz. And, in terms of power and influence, the fashion designers aren't nearly as important as the women who run the magazines (who in turn are trying to please their financial bosses, are trying to sell advertising space to advertisers, are trying to impress others in the industry, and are trying to sell their publications to hordes of straight women). Lines of influence go all over the place. By the way, there are magazines for women that showcase semi-normal-shaped women -- mommy and homemaking magazines. But they aren't fashion magazines. Many women seem to want something from fashion magazines that they don't get from more "real" magazines. They may want tips, but they also seem to want fantasy. So I wind up wondering: what is it about this fantasy that many straight women seem to enjoy?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 24, 2005 04:02 AM

You have all covered the answer--it is indeed the fantasy, and it's simply wanting to be graceful, beautiful, self-assured as the models appear to be. Yes, the clothes do hang better on tall and skinny. I was raised on Vogue magazine, my mother a seamstress who made all our clothes from Vogue patterns. Not a one of us is over 5'2". And somehow, the clothes, while beautiful, didn't look the same on us. But, we felt beautiful and very haute couture.

Posted by: susan on February 24, 2005 05:27 AM

Michael, you again mention “the tall-and-thin fashion-model look,” but do not also note that the faces and physiques of these models are generally clearly masculinized. Surely, the main personnel running the fashion magazines are women, but these women have unofficial bosses in the form of the fashion designers who provide them with the main reason for the existence of the magazines, i.e., designer clothing, and most of these fashion designers happen to be gays. Do you expect the women running the magazines to ask the gay fashion designers to design clothes for feminine, 66- to 68-inch tall women, and then ask the fashion photographers (disproportionately gay for sure) to shoot these feminine women in the designer clothing?

Now, why do several women go through fashion magazines? Most obviously, they do so to learn about what styles are in vogue, how to make themselves more presentable (i.e., attractive) to men, how to appear as having high status (by virtue of their clothing), and side-items such as picking-up stuff on snagging the right guy, sustaining a relationship, and related stuff. The “real” magazines that you mention such as the mommy and homemaking magazines cater to married women. Unmarried women and upper class married women who need better information on making themselves fit in higher society need to refer to the fashion magazines. As far as the fantasy that heterosexual women live through by perusing fashion magazines goes, this is obviously the fantasy to be rich, famous, be admired for one’s looks, and attract many wealthy male suitors so that they can have their pick; the fantasy is not to look like the tall, skinny, and masculinized female models they see. Do you think that heterosexual women perusing fashion magazines want the skinny masculinized physiques of these fashion models? Do you believe that heterosexual women want to possess the masculinized faces, robust cheekbones, and sharp gonial angles of the typical high fashion models? Heck, even the most feminine high fashion models usually still have obviously masculinized faces compared to the feminine norm among glamour models.

The vast majority of heterosexual women know that heterosexual men prefer feminine-looking women, and do not wish to have smaller breasts, flatter backsides, and more masculine looks. Heterosexual women peruse fashion magazines primarily to learn about fashion, not to look at the female models. Since the main selling point of the fashion magazines to heterosexual women is fashion, not the looks of the female models, in the absence of alternatives, several heterosexual women, in spite of not liking the looks of the typical female high fashion models, continue to patronize the fashion magazines.

Posted by: Erik Holland on February 24, 2005 06:46 AM

I like to look at fashion magazines to see the clothes, and as you pointed out, the clothes hang well on models with tall, thin physiques.

Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.

Posted by: C. S. Froning on February 24, 2005 09:35 AM

The trend isn't new, by the way. Go all the way back to the forties. Always tall and skinny. The "mascualinized" thing may be more new---but sixties-ish. Like Twiggy and Company (although Twiggy was actually fairly short for a fashion model, but the cropped hair was 'masculinized').

What Vogue editors always said was that the clothes should hang as if on a hanger---the model's body should not get in the way. It's essentially nondescript. And, honestly, I think part of it is if the model's body doesn't get in the way, you can more easily imagine yourself in the dress. You put somebody too distinctive and curvy in there---Christie Brinkley, say---and everybody's got to contend with her figure, her strengths, her specifics, and then you can't get her out of there and you in. It's the same reason some models get the 'cover' and some get the 'clothes.' If you are going to look at a facial close-up, we want her to be pretty---Cybill Shepherd, Candace Bergen---but neither of them would model clothing.Too many unique-to-them-and-in-the-way personal characteristics to their bodies. Cybill's late-sixties roommate once said (perhaps jealously)that Cybill became a 'cover girl' because she kept gaining so much weight that photographers didn't want to shoot her bod! But it made for a pretty face!

But I agree with you---Having a body that doesn't 'get in the way' is a fantasy.

Posted by: annette on February 24, 2005 09:57 AM

I suppose that in an age when most American women are grotesquely overweight, most models do look "skinny."

Also, in what possible way are "grayhounds" [sic] "stylized?" They look the same now as they did 5,000 years ago.

Posted by: beloml on February 24, 2005 10:00 AM

It's not just women's fashion magazines - or women's magazines, period - that use unrealistic-looking models. How many "real world" men look anything remotely like the men pictured in GQ or Men's Health?

Posted by: Peter on February 24, 2005 10:02 AM

I don't read/look at fashion magazines because I find most current fashion ugly and the models scare me because they look so thin and sick.

The problem is, I don't like it either when magazines try to do features with "real women". The photography is usually of a lesser artistic quality, the lighting is bad and the clothes are not that great. It's like a half-hearted effort, just to be politically correct.

Posted by: Martine on February 24, 2005 11:34 AM

Michael, I think you hit the nail on the head. It must be female fantasy fulfillment. The fashion mags need to instantly propel page-flipping females into a fantasy world so enticing the clothes become a necessity. The women pictured in their pages must therefore represent the most extreme form of a female's fantasy about herself, a caricature of her perfect self, if they're to grab her before she flips to the next page.

It's interesting to compare the fashion mag women with the men's mag women. The men's mags need to instantly propel page-flipping males into a fantasy world so enticing the product associated with the scantily-clad silicon-enhanced hourglass-shaped hyper-available women becomes a necessity. These women look very different from the fashion mag women, but they, too, are extreme caricatures in their own way.

Each set of magazines must distort the female form in different ways in order to instantaneously transport their readers to that fantasyland where they're most vulnerable to commercial pitches.

Posted by: Outer Life on February 24, 2005 11:45 AM

Susan -- That's so sweet. I love the way women enjoy dolling themselves up, and playing with their fantasies and pleasures. Do you find the current Vogue as pleasing as the one you grew up on? I find it (however slick) kind of hard-edged and no fun -- kind of clattery and bitchy. It lacks sweetness and froth. But what do I know?

Erik -- I could be mistaken, but you seem to want to assign all responsibility for the model look to the influence of gay men. We aren't that far apart. I think the influence of gay men in fashion is important too. But I can't see how the pleasures and preferences of straight women (some straight women, anyway, the ones who patronize the magazines and catalogs) can be overlooked. Fashion (as in fashion-magazine-type fashion) as an institution is a collaboration between gay men and women. You seem to have a vision of gay men dictating styles to straight women. But it's equally plausible to describe the process as gay men serving the fantasy and beauty preferences of straight women -- in other words, acting as their servants and suppliers. I think there's some validity to both views. I also think you might want to learn a bit more about the fashion-mag world before making too many generalizations about it. Women browse and graze them for a variety of reasons, not just to get fashion tips. And it's flat-out wrong to picture the publishers and editors as being the lackeys of the designers. The opposite is far more the case. Anna Wintour walks in fear of no designer, believe me.

C.S. -- The clothes are often pretty amazing, aren't they? Do you get ideas from them? Just enjoy them as semi-absurd artworks?

Annette - That's really smart, your point about how certain bodies don't get in the way of the clothes while others do. I assume that that helps promote the enjoyable browing-dreamstate that women seem to get into when they're enjoying a fashion mag too. What kind of phase do you find the fashion-model-look thing is in these days? Especially elegant? Especially extreme? The "supermodel" days seem long gone, but I have no idea what the current crop of girls and looks represents.

Beloml -- You're right that grayhouds aren't stylized. But I think to most people's eyes they look stylized, don't you? They look almost like calligraphy, or pictograms or glyphs -- very abstract.

Peter -- That's an interesting development too, the way the men's mags have been peddling male body-narcissism so much more aggressively than they used to. I think Erik's point about the gay-male influence is more strikingly true where men's "fashion" mags are concerned these days than where women's are. It's very odd that many straight guys are apparently going along with the idea that they should be indulging in the same kinds of narcissistic fantasizing that has been pretty standard for gay men. I wonder what it's doing to their imaginations, let alone their sense of themselves.

Martine -- There often is a kind of grotesque, even horror-movie quality to a lot of what's shown in fashion mags, isn't there? I find some of the makeup ads repulsive, for instance, and certainly some of the models are ghastly. I wonder how the women who love flipping thru these mags take that element. As kicky and daring and provocative?

Outer Life -- It's fun to think of some magazines as fantasy books, isn't it? I mean, I think to some extent nearly all mainstream mags are selling fantasies, even The Nation (America is in a state of emergency!) and National Review (there's a band of hearty, decent people who are forever rescusing the world from childish hysterics and baddies). I kind of like that fantasy element, though I recognize its dangers. But fantasy's always like that, no? Seductive, full of potential pitfalls?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 24, 2005 01:44 PM

I admit that I sometimes go into my school's library and go through the fashion magazines, and (the design magazines), because the clothes are art, the photography is art and damn sometimes the women take your breath away. But i guess I consume it as art, but I can only take so much of that high fashion stuff.
But then again i kinda like clothes...

i still think it's a little strange how you can take high fashion men and women models and interchange them in most shoots
take a look at this designers mens and women's collections...

Michael, that's so bizarre that you take as a consequence of the riot grrrl movement, the current incarnation of cosmolike magazines... I guess i can see a tiny connection, but man that's some co-op-tation!

Posted by: azad on February 24, 2005 03:48 PM

I'm catching up with you after a week off the computer and I find very interesting posts nearly back to back. This one and Fenster's posts on Larry Summers.

Economics. I think it's more natural for men to try to look good for women but our economic choice of structure as turned that upside down. I agree that fashion magazines are a commercial fiction, or fantasy as Michael says. It's purpose is to sell beauty and fantasy and they do a really fine job. The lesson for women is NOT to be distracted by fashion mags, but to use them as a tool for what look you might want when you shop for clothes. Don't be distracted from your studies, gals. The bling is the fun stuff, bless all the gay and straight designers for thinking them up; but the best stuff would be the people you surround yourself with and the knowledge you accumulate.

Combining both of those topics is huge. It will be food for thought for the rest of the day for certain!

And about the tall women (my favorite line from "The Lady's Not For Burning": "Peace on earth and good tall women.") If you look at designers original drawings for clothes, the women's bodies are like Barbies. Very short torso and very long legs. Clothes look better on long lean bodies because it takes awhile for the eye of the beholder to establish the line of the design. Short men cannot wear dusters well. They are meant for tall men. The lines of the design stop too quickly. This is also true for women's gowns which is why so many tiny actresses look kind of silly in certan designer dresses, unless they are of the most simple pattern. Tall models also don't have that big-head syndrome (the lollipop) you notice on short actresses. Tall models can wear clothing that would look good on short or tall women, but the consumer must figure out what looks best on her.

Posted by: bridget on February 24, 2005 04:16 PM

"Short men cannot wear dusters well. They are meant for tall men."

I'm not sure what a duster is, but the currently trendy 3-button suits clearly fit that bill - unless a man is reasonably tall and lean, they look terrible.

Posted by: Peter on February 24, 2005 10:34 PM

I'm more than a bit of a fashion magazine obsessive. I've been pouring over them since I was 12. I have stacks of Vogues from the late 80s and early 90s in my closet. I've also looked at a lot of earlier fashion photography. I majored in photography as well. I definitely think the models have gotten thinner. If you look at photos from the 50s, the models actually had hips and breasts. The 90s+ models are also more muscular, which is probably a side effect of having to work your ass off to stay thin, but also fits in nicely with the workout/gym craze. The 80s models almost look flabby in comparison.

Also, I think we're ignoring the most crucial aspect of interpreting these pictures. Who is the audience? The audience is NOT your average woman. These magazines are also intended to sell products. Otherwise, why all the ads? Most women can't buy that stuff. For a certain class of women, those clothes aren't fantasy. So they're not just selling fantasy, they're also selling status. The interesting thing is that earlier in the 20th cent. poor Americans had to contend with not having enough to eat, so the models were slightly larger. Think of how the naked women in European painting would be called "fat" today. Fat was a sign of wealth. Now the poor are the fattest Americans. And, as a result, the women in movies and magazines have gotten thinner. Fat is a sign of poor or (god forbid) the hideous middle class! It's also far more acceptable in Hollywood for black or Latino women to have more body fat than white women (result of culture and economic status), which pisses me off to no end because of my love of Kate Winslet, who, if it were the 50s, would not be called fat. If she were a different race, no one would call her fat.

As women have moved out of their traditional role, they have become more like men, and, as a result, they've gradually been desexed (hips, breasts, etc gone). Think of the Twiggies and hippies then those horrid big shouldered "power" suits designed to mimic the male form. At the same time women's bodies in the media were becoming more masculine, men's bodies were becoming hypermasculine. Think Arnold Schwarzenegger. This has changed a bit lately, but, instead of hypermasculine we seem to be getting little boys passed off as leading men. Leonardo DiCaprio, I'm looking at you. It is better though with Keanu Reeves, Hugh Jackman and George Clooney having more normal male phisiques. And Russell Crowe who seems to be fat half the time.

Posted by: lindenen on February 25, 2005 02:06 AM

I know this is difficult for all of you men out there to comprehend, but high fashion has almost nothing to do with attracting you. The high fashion magazines that feature the androgynous look--Vogue, for instance--show clothes that are meant to impress other women, not men. The angularity, the height, the aggressiveness, they all convey a rejection of the short, passive, curvy, feminine ideal of men. A woman displaying that look comes across not as high-status, but as submissive, seeking to find a man she can worship and please. The typical Vogue model, however, is strong, independent and intimidating--the features of a woman who enjoys high status among other women.

If you look at a magazine like Cosmopolitan, whose goal is not to show the pinnacle of fashion, but explain how to snag a man, the models there are much softer-looking, much more likely to have loose, long hair or breasts. They're still tall and slender, because clothes look better on tall, slender women, but they are also clearly feminine.

When it comes to fashion, 95% of heterosexual men are completely clueless. They know they like girls in short skirts, low-cut tops, and tight jeans, and that's about it. As a result, I have a corner of my closet devoted to "date clothes"--outfits so out of style they can only be worn on dates. Other women will be able to tell at a glance that one of my favorite red sundresses is hopelessly mid-nineties, and dismiss me for it, but men only see the pretty, feminine print, the curvy silhouette, and the short, short skirt.

Posted by: Amy on February 25, 2005 01:32 PM

Interesting post and responses. I linked it, apropos Condi Rice's latest fashion choice, and it got some of my friends talking too. Have you ever read the book, Perfume? As I recall the author was a fellow named Tom Robbins. I assume the movie was based on it.

Posted by: Alan Sullivan on February 25, 2005 02:47 PM

Hi Peter,
A duster is a long coat worn by men that "dusts" the ground. You mostly see them in westerns. Clint Eastwood has worn them. The coat worn by Keanu Reeves in the Matrix would be a modern form of a duster.

Posted by: bridget on February 25, 2005 03:43 PM

I never see a duster without hearing that spaghetti-western whistle-twang theme that Ennio Morricone came up with for the Leone/Eastwood westerns ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 25, 2005 06:52 PM

Erik makes some excellent points, but I believe Michael’s thesis (“What the fashion mags are selling is, to some extent, a fantasy of play and freedom.”) gets closer to the heart of the matter. Consider also the women-oriented cigarette ads found in magazines throughout the ‘80s. One saw the same type of Madison Ave. depictions of the ‘new woman’, a more carefree, not-afraid-to-have-fun woman.

Insofar as Madison Ave. has always been a step ahead of relevant social psychological research, it’s probably no surprise that the young women demo has had the greatest increase in number of smokers in the past 10-15 years. ‘Enjoyment’ of cigarettes is largely an after-effect. Boys start smoking because they want to appear ‘tough’ or ‘cool’. Girls begin smoking because they want to be seen as a sophisticated ‘new woman’, someone who could walk onto the set of ‘Sex in the City’ and fit in.

Posted by: Dave L. on February 25, 2005 07:10 PM

If you read Erik's website, "", he's obviously obsessed with proving that homosexuals are all psychologically abnormal perverts (his site reminds me of racist tracts on the supposed psychology of blacks/jews/etc.), so take anything he says about gays & fashion with a large grain of salt.

Posted by: Jesse M. on February 25, 2005 10:55 PM

Reply to Jesse M: My site provides empirical evidence that homosexuals are relatively overrepresented among individuals with paraphilias, non-paraphilic sexual compulsion disorders, and disinhibited sexual interests; it does not argue that the aforementioned anomalies characterize all homosexuals. Besides, it does not use the word “perverts.” Similarly, it lists empirical evidence that psychiatric disorders are elevated among homosexuals; it does not argue that all homosexuals are mentally ill, and offers evidence that increased psychiatric morbidity among homosexuals is largely unaccounted for in terms of stigma, prejudice, and discrimination. I am not obsessed with proving these correlates of homosexuality, but mention them because people who try to explain the origin of homosexuality typically ignore such correlates of homosexuality. One’s explanation of homosexuality is as good as the amount of data that one accounts for. The correlates of homosexuality that I address online, along with a huge amount of additional correlates of homosexuality, are explained in a coherent and parsimonious manner in my book.

Posted by: Erik Holland on February 26, 2005 05:27 PM

I'm quite late to this very interesting thread, but had a thought that I haven't seen expressed here. Cheekbones keep coming up and I wonder if they are at the crux of the matter. I wondered aloud to my husband several months ago if taller women (or men) simply have better cheekbones. We know that proportions do not stay the same as we grow taller, the prime example being legs. What if height affected other things as well. It just seems to me that the taller a person is, the stronger and more defining their skeletal structure seems to be and this would apply to cheekbones.
I've noticed cheekbones for awhile as I sadly so narrowly missed out in the genetic lottery for having a great pair.

Posted by: Emily B. on March 4, 2005 07:01 PM

Emily: You have correctly pointed out that shape changes as a function of size; this effect is known as allometry. However, not all shapes change as a function of size. The cheekbones do not become relatively larger as a result of increased face size. If you want to know what shapes change as a function of size, you will find Fig 7 here useful. High fashion models show several facial traits that are not readily attributable to allometry and these traits are related to masculinization and population-atypical traits in a few cases.

Posted by: Erik Holland on March 4, 2005 11:44 PM

now i know why models are so skinny. i always used to wonder why, as i know that most men prefer cudlly curves!

thank you, all!

Posted by: Tapi on March 11, 2005 11:46 AM

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