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A 'Wow. Just. Wow' article: 'Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?

UPDATE: It looks like Psychology Today felt the heat sometime after my post because the article is now inaccessible. A lot of people must have written the editor.

Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist,  wrote a completely sick column over at Psychology Today’s “The Scientific Fundamentalist” called “Why Are Black Women Rated Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

Add Health measures the physical attractiveness of its respondents both objectively and subjectively. At the end of each interview, the interviewer rates the physical attractiveness of the respondent objectively on the following five-point scale: 1 = very unattractive, 2 = unattractive, 3 = about average, 4 = attractive, 5 = very attractive. The physical attractiveness of each Add Health respondent is measured three times by three different interviewers over seven years.

Recall that women on average are more physically attractive than men. So women of all races are on average more physically attractive than the “average” Add Health respondent, except for black women. As the following graph shows, black women are statistically no different from the “average” Add Health respondent, and far less attractive than white, Asian, and Native American women.

As I hold back my temper thinking as a woman, I already have cultural pressures to be something other than what I am in terms of a beauty standard, but I cannot believe this complete failure of an attempt to scientfically prove I’m less attractive than a white woman (assuming the same general characteristics).

What is absurd about the premise is what is he basing it on? “Black” women run the gamut of able to pass for white, to dark-skinned afro-centric features. We have dead straight blonde hair to ultra-nappy fros. Who participated and what did they look like? Who knows, that information isn’t there.

Any “scientific analysis” is fool’s gold without any context to historical sociological or ethnographic impact on majority and minority populations in regards to notions of physical attractiveness. Yet Kanazawa is trying so hard to make it work that you get the feeling that he gave himself a migraine.

The fact that Kanazawa poses his thesis as a question is also the tip of the hand — he has his stats, but this tells him nothing  – he can’t truly discern as a reason for this alleged branding of black woman as inferior physical specimens of beauty.

And this sounds like something out of the junk science we see against gays. I sh*t you not:

There are many biological and genetic differences between the races.  However, such race differences usually exist in equal measure for both men and women.  For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.  And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health).  But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only black women are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive.

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.  The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

While my blood boils, you can leave your comments.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding