Your Looks, Your Call

June 19, 2014

There’s been a disturbing and predictable trend of guys getting online to lecture women on what’s hot and what’s not. A recent notable example is this video from Vine teen celebrity Nash Grier and pals:

The video generated a great deal of blowback. My favorite rebuttal is from Hank Green, (vlogger and brother of John Green of TFIOS fame):

Hank Green to Nash Grier

Green correctly identifies an example of increasingly frequent expression of male sexual entitlement:

“Implied in a lot of what you’re saying is that women exist to appeal to you.”

It’s not just teenage knuckleheads saying this stuff. One middle-aged PUA tells women what they must do to be more attractive to men, starting with “lose the goddamn weight” and “grow your hair down to your butt.”

I have two observations about this trend:

1. Women will take advice about appearance if and only if they are attracted to the male* giving it.

*Gay men excepted

Advice from a teen idol on what guys like is powerful precisely because of the his high market value. Girls who think Nash Grier is the cutest no doubt headed straight for the shower to shave their forearms. It doesn’t matter that Nash Grier may not represent the typical male – he wants peach fuzz on the face removed because he doesn’t like it when the light hits it and makes it visible.

For decades, women’s magazines have offered tips on what the highest value males find attractive. This is the bread and butter of Cosmo. The article is always accompanied by a photo of a guy who is obviously very knowledgeable about women.

In contrast, advice from some random male on the internet falls on deaf ears. The invisible punk who ridicules Jennifer Lawrence’s haircut on reddit has no influence, except on other males who share his view. (Tiny fists pumping the air.)

In fact, the fashion magazines promote short hair. In Marie Claire’s recent article The 10 Best Haircuts of All Time, 8 out of the 10 are short styles.

Women only care what some men think – the men they wish to appeal to.

Men often express anger and resentment that women follow fashion trends that make them less sexy. (One super successful fashion blogger named her blog Man Repeller.) They believe they should be the arbiters of beauty.

Women disagree. From 17 Things That a Modern Gentleman Would Never Do:

Modern gentlemen don’t make judgments about the personal style of women that have nothing to do with them. They aren’t making memes about…whatever tired statement no one asked [you for but you] feel compelled to make.

They have their personal preferences, and no one is forcing them to be with a girl whose style they don’t like, but they have better things to do with their time than tell random girls what they’re interested in banging.

Since women are calling the shots when it comes to banging, they have considerable leeway in choosing how to present themselves stylistically.

Which leads me to my second observation, which is also the solution.

2. The free market regulates mating preferences.

Example 1: Hair

It’s simple. If you don’t like Jennifer Lawrence’s haircut, don’t approach her lookalike at the bar. If you can’t stand the look of a woman in a power suit, stay away.

Women can decide whether they want to follow a “mass market” strategy, or play to a “niche” market.

It is true that most young men prefer long hair. That is a well-documented finding. If you decide to grow it long, you’ll appeal to more guys in the mainstream, but you’ll also have a lot of competition. If you cut it short, you may become “less hot” to many guys, but greatly improve your chances with the minority of guys who like your look.

(BTW, most women are not physically capable of growing hair down to their butt. It’s a ridiculous piece of advice).

Many of the most memorable women throughout history have not been conventionally attractive, but they have understood how to maximize their value within a certain niche, e.g. Duke of Windsor niche, Ancient Roman General niche.

The niche marketing strategy is often highly effective. (Men use this strategy too; see Hipster.)

Example 2: Weight

Weight is a different issue, and not really a grooming choice, so I’ll address it separately and dispel the myths:

The obesity epidemic in the U.S. has been acknowledged as a real cause for concern. How does this alarming trend break out by gender?

70% of males and 57% of females are overweight or obese. 

Obesity among 18-25 year olds is much lower, and varies a lot by state:

  1. <15% in 21 states.
  2. 15-20% in 20 states.
  3. >20% in 9 states.

Clearly, disgruntled men are applying a double standard here and exaggerating the problem. If anything, more women will have to settle for an overweight partner.

However, free market principles apply here too – those who are displeased with their local selection can try their luck in a different state, or even a different country! Or they could stay put and mate assortatively.

Hair and weight are not the only relevant characteristics. The mating market regulates the demand for any and all physical features. If you are experiencing unsatisfactory results in the dating market, do an honest self-assessment. Maybe you could get into better shape or change your look in some way. Experiment, and see what works for you. The results will speak for themselves.

Whatever you do, don’t go by what some bonehead says guys want. I’ve seen every rule in the book broken, and broken a few of them myself. You’re not trying to lock down all the boys on the boy tree. You only need one.