I am NOT an economist, sociologist or evolutionary biologist, but I listen to them, read up on them and peruse documentaries. What they say makes sense.
The human species selects for physical health and mental acuity. The first indications of physical health: physical symmetry. Secondarily, youth. Most young people, by virtue of a perfectly functioning immune system, are inherently healthy.
What's physical "symmetry"? Well, symmetry is balance on the left side and right side of the body. If you split someone's face in half and create a mirror-image picture, the new picture will not make a "face" that appears "off." The same counts for the body. If you look at someone and one arm or leg is visibly shorter than the other, this indicates genetic anomalies. Few, if any, of these anomalies may be passed on to offspring. But the APPEARANCE of anomalies is at least a "pink" flag.
Physical symmetry is most obvious in someone's face
"During the European Renaissance, renowned artists and architects used an equation known as the "golden ratio" to map out their masterpieces. Thousands of years later, scientists adopted this mathematical formula to help explain why some people are considered beautiful…and others are not.
Dr. Kendra Schmid, an assistant professor of biostatistics, uses the golden ratio and 29 other measurements to study facial sex appeal . These measurements are calculated to determine a person's beauty on a scale of 1 to 10. What does she measure?
A. First, Dr. Schmid measures the length and width of the face. Then, she divides the length by the width. The ideal result—as defined by the golden ratio—is roughly 1.6, which means a beautiful person's face is about 1 1/2 times longer than it is wide
B. Next, Dr. Schmid measures three segments of the face—from the forehead hairline to a spot between the eyes, from between the eyes to the bottom of the nose, and from the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin. If the numbers are equal, a person is considered more beautiful.
C. Finally, statisticians measure other facial features to determine symmetry and proportion. On a perfect face, Dr. Schmid says the length of an ear is equal to the length the nose, and the width of an eye is equal to the distance between the eyes.
Most people score between 4 and 6, and Dr. Schmid says no one has ever been a perfect 10."
From: "The Beauty Equation"
Here's a man's face that hits the ratio. The best looking movie stars, no matter what color, race, ethnicity, hit most of the ratio's points.
I'll name a few film stars whose faces I love: Brad Pitt, Henry Cavill, Idris Elba, Sidney Poitier & Harry Belafonte as young men, Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Robert Redford, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Dwayne Johnson, James McAvoy, Paul Rudd, Chris Pine; Robert Mitchum, Laurence Olivier, Charlie Chaplin, Sean Connery as younger men, Morgan Freeman and "Darth Vadar's" voice, James Earl Jones.
They aren't ALL the movie stars I like. But in perusing the list of those who are accomplished, there are odd looking guys. Tom Holland looks like a little kid, Ryan Reynold's face is too long, Adam Driver has an oversized, overlong head. Good actors. Lack facial symmetry.
Here's another giveaway for the males of the species who want to attract a female. A deep voice. Vocal chords lengthen, and voices deepen because of high levels of testosterone.
What's a marker of male "health?" High levels of testosterone. Men advertise this by opening their mouths and talking to a woman. No one has to be a Paul Robeson, the great, black bass operatic singer of the 1930s through the '50s. He's famous for singing "Old Man River," in "Showboat." But all it takes is one conversation! Healthy females want to hook up with a healthy male.
Is your skin scarred by acne, or do you STILL have acne? Advertises you have hormonal issues that outweigh your body's ability to overcome them. A health issue.
Look, again, at all our movie stars. There are few outliers with pocked faces. But don't they always play the bad guys and gals? Do the stars of the show have bad skin? Ah, ah... The top dogs don't need spackling to cover up skin flaws. In fact, on most of those faces you can't even FIND a pore.
Look at their bodies. What's the common denominator? Fitness.
When the elder actors were in their prime, and for those who still are, what do their bodies look like? Everyone in my list is full of muscle. That's another advertiser of high testosterone levels and health. Superskinny or flabby men aren't candidates to attract women. Right down the middle, or slightly above average in musculature. No need for a six pack, but need for useful muscles.
Also, men need a modicum of body fat to produce healthy sperm. So there needs to be balance. If a man has too much body fat, he produces inferior sperm and extra estrogen, so he loses the male characteristics that advertise he's a healthy mate.
The rules are more flexible for women, but they concern fitness, also. Most men don't choose thin women. This is a red flag that tells them these women don't have enough body fat to be impregnated or to carry a baby to term. It's a fact that if women have too little body fat they become amenorrheaic. They won't have a period; won't release an egg and can't be impregnated. If they're obese, this can also affect hormone levels and fertility. Too much body fat releases hormones that affect the menstrual cycle. That right down the middle weight applies equally to females.
Sweet Bird of Youth
Men are favored on the evolutionary scale of success by NOT having a limited supply of eggs that need fertilization and by not having their fertility start to slip in their 30s. They've got pretty free rein until they hit about 45 and then sperm quality dips. HOWEVER, men are still capable of sperm production until around age 80. Whether they are capable of depositing that sperm in the receptacle that will grow a baby at age 80 is another thing entirely. But most virile men's virility lasts through to their 70s if they're otherwise HEALTHY.
Because age affects eggs and sperm, younger women have more and healthier eggs than older women.
Younger men have more active and better-quality sperm than older men.
And what about aging and looks, you ask.
What does aging advertise to potential mates?
YOU ARE PAST YOUR BIOLOGICALLY OPTIMAL PRIME. No one wants someone who looks "old" or undesirable. That is not humanly rational. This is why 70 year old men go out with 35 year old women. Why 40 year old men chase 20 year old women. Younger women still have their biology on their side. Older men can still make babies with them. This might not be what these particular men want, rationally, but it's what our lizard brains push us to do as the thinly veiled animals that we are.
What about men who choose women who are near or the same age as them even when they're older? These are most likely men who've successfully mated and produced offspring and feel satisfied with that achievement. Here's where the biological impetus often drops off. It could also be men who've never felt the urge to spread their genes.
But men and women of all ages still respond to the beauty equation. Older, healthy looking men and women STILL get more action than those who've "let themselves go." And by letting yourself go, I mean the laundry list of having no outside interests, never exercising, not being connected to what's going on in the world, your family and friends, events of all kinds: gardening, bike rides, canoeing, travel, painting your house, mowing your lawn, cooking, being organized.
This likewise applies to the young and the pretty. True, you can lead a woman to bed and fuck her, but if you've got no skills, can you fuck her ENOUGH to have a genetic win with her? And if you want more than a fuck and run, even with the bonus of impregnation, can you KEEP her?
Here is where the SECONDARY factors come into play. ANYONE, practically EVERYONE can get knocked up and get some offspring. But can the two of you form a long lasting couple, or co parent to RAISE that offspring? And if the first coupling didn't work, can you learn from it to have a better, later coupling that gives all your offspring advantages?
Do you understand that a good looking fertile partner is ONLY the start? That people with love and compassion, patience and kindness, creativity and a sense of adventure are the kinds of people we all want to know and love all our lives. If we're lucky, we knew them in our parents and grandparents. Then we reinvent them by choosing similar friends. And finally we discover them in potential partners.
Those are the final traits we want to foster and pass along. OK his face is too long and her legs are too short. But they love us to death and they love our kids and grandkids. That's the complete picture of biological success. It starts off shallow, then it dives deep. And that's the story of humanity and of joy and strength!