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Universal Standards of Beauty, 2004/05/03:0:01

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It's always fun to hear individual persons' evolutionary arguments for this year's (this week's?) standards of feminine beauty. At the risk of being accused of committing a straw man fallacy, I'm going to characterize those arguments this way:
1. Skinny fashion and porn models look like young teenage girls.
2. A young teenage girl, in her youthful vigor, is the picture of health.
3. Her smooth, full lips suggest an abundance of estrogen.
4. Her waist is slender, often narrower than her hips, and this ratio is characteristic of a good breeder.

Therefore, the current prevalence of skinny models with smooth full lips and a 0.7 hips/waist ratio are not the result of any weird, isolated cultural traditions, but rather are the universal hallmarks of a strong, young, virgin breeder, which evolution has trained males to pick out.

I often point to works of art from various places and times (Renoir paintings, Marilyn Monroe films, etc.). But a picture is a worth a thousand verbal examples, especially if you're a man who's been convinced that he is primarly visual because he is male.

I found this picture because I was inspired to do a little web research by the Travel Channel's exploration of the culture of the Surma people of Ethiopia. They were interviewing both men and women of that culture. Some of the younger women were saying that they intended to forego lip-piercing/stretching because the ear-piercing had been painful enough; I mention this to point out that these people do know what an unmutilated woman looks like. But all of the men declared that they wouldn't marry a woman whose lip had not been stretched, that they find it valuable and attractive. The size of the woman's breasts and waist were apparently irrelevant. The woman need not be a virgin either, and might even have given birth to another man's child. Moreover, the men said that they wouldn't marry an ugly woman. The choice of a woman with a large lip plate is an aesthetic decision.

You can't see it in this picture, but the lower lip is just a ring, like the woman's left earlobe. Without the plate, it bunches slightly and hangs flaccidly, framing her chin. The lower teeth are visible, unless they are dislodged from wearing the plate, in which case you see the gap. The above picture was found at, which states
The larger the plate, the more appealing the woman, and indicates the number of cattle required for her dowry. This plate is worth 75 head of cattle.
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