By contrast, I then came across this one by starionwolf that I fell so immediately and desperately in love with that I had to spend the next hour trying to find more information about her (rather unsuccessfully, since her journal has only one entry).
I think datagrok's latest entry summed up very well why this kind of thing happens:
I do not think that it has to do with body parts. There are hundreds of fine body parts milling about during my mandatory daily social interactions that do not cause me to kick into drooling idiot mode. (I take an elitist superiority-complex pride in the fact that I don't crank my head around to ogle the ass of every stereotypically attractive female that passes me in the hall.) I really think it must be a conveyance of a sense of deviance. I mean, the only common thread between the various people who have really sparked my interest is that my freak-radar starts going nuts whenever I'm in the same room with them.Not just any old deviance attracts me, but the sense that someone has chosen to deviate in the same ways that I have certainly attracts me. In the first picture, the presence of makeup and in all probability hair bleach (hair that stays naturally that pale of blonde into adulthood is fairly rare, and the women who do have it genetically are drastically outnumbered by the women who have it by way of bleaching - plus her eyebrows seem to be a darker color, which can happen naturally but again happens more often when bleaching is involved) suggest to me that the person pictured is a lot more into modifying her face's appearance than I am, and that she modifies it to conform with extremely mainstream, racist and sexist beauty standards that say pale hair is better than dark hair and women should spend hours painting their faces every morning but men shouldn't. In the second picture, the person in the icon by starionwolf appears to be makeup-free, with unbleached hair and unremoved armpit hair. She conveys a sense of being very comfortable with the body she grew up in. I interpret this as a good sign of both radical politics and high self-esteem, both psychological traits that attract me. Of course, there are many other psychological traits that attract me that don't manifest themselves physically, which is why after seeing the icon I spent time reading her journal and userinfo page in search of those traits instead of just proposing marriage at first sight.
Not every trait that can physically attract a person is even as reliable a sign of psychological traits as these. The fact that someone was born with a different-shaped nose than someone else is highly unlikely to inherently correlate to any psychological differences. However, we learn our physical tastes from many sources, including personal life experiences and the mass media, and if the mass media chooses to consistently drill into our heads millions of images of people with a certain shape of nose being nicer or smarter or better in bed than people with some other shape of nose, unconsciously we may begin to associate these psychological traits with the physical trait of nose shape and proceed to behave as though the nose shapes of the people we meet are conveying important information about their psychology to us. If enough people behave this way, people with different nose shapes might even actually really acquire some different psychological traits due to the fact that they spend their lives being treated differently by most people.
But we can also learn our physical tastes from our personal life experiences. These tastes too can be skewed, if we just happen to have randomly not met anyone with a particular nose shape who didn't behave horribly to us, and then we subconsciously stop giving any more people with that nose shape an equal chance. The odds of our personal life experiences not being skewed are a little better than the odds of the mass media not being skewed, but certainly it can still happen.
pomobarney likes to make numbered lists with pictures of the top 20 or so celebrities he finds physically attractive, and remarked a while back about finding it interesting to see other people's lists. I've previously made lists of the people I find most attractive overall, when filling out various surveys, but physical attraction has hardly figured into my lists at all, and my lists have never been accompanied by photographs because there aren't even photographs available anywhere online of half of the people I find most attractive (obscure authors, historical figures, online friends, etc.), and I have no idea what they look like and I don't much care. If I like someone's psychological traits enough, they become part of the life experiences from which I learn my physical tastes, and I become very attracted to their body type (both on them and on other people who resemble them) as a direct result of knowing them. So it makes sense that I've never felt a need to make a list of people I find most physically attractive, because it's very changeable and for that reason, not very important.
But recent conversations with several of you about such things have caused me to realize that even though it is important not to overestimate the importance of physical tastes, it still is interesting to consider what physical tastes I've acquired so far. So I decided to make a list in which I would attempt to separate, as far as is possible (which it isn't entirely, because as I said, my physical tastes are affected by the psychological traits of the people who possess them), my physical tastes from my psychological ones.
However, if I just started naming everyone who came to mind as being pretty, the only people who would come to mind would be people I like mostly for their psychological traits, because I don't pay enough attention to popular culture to have all that many names in my head of people I'm not a huge fan of. Also, celebrities tend to have a very Hollywoodized look to them, so any list I made of them would be skewed toward that look even despite the fact that I usually dislike that look, simply because that look would be all I had to choose from. So I tried to think of a group of famous people whose photographs I could easily find online and who don't tend to all have a Hollywoodized look. And the solution I settled upon was . . . politicians.
Politicians are not a perfect solution at all, because they're still under pressure to keep their appearances pretty mainstream, which skews the list, and they also tend to be old by the time they're famous, which also skews the list. They'd skew the list strongly male too, but I solved that by searching extra hard for women to choose from. I also came up with hardly any bald men to choose from, which surprised me; now I wonder how many politicians use Rogaine. Anyway, I created a finite selection pool to choose from, by making a list of:
- All U.S. presidents who've been president during my lifetime (this includes Bush II, Clinton, Bush I, Reagan, Carter, and a few months of Ford, although I can't actually remember being told who the president was until it was Reagan - I do remember things that happened during Carter's presidency, but I don't think I knew what a president was yet), and their vice presidents
- All members of President Bush II's cabinet and President Clinton's cabinet
- All presidents, prime ministers, kings, queens, and governors general of all the countries that anyone I know or who reads my journal is from (I couldn't include all the countries in the world both because it would have taken too long and because it can be really difficult to even find pictures available on the internet of some of the more obscure ones); plus Kofi Annan from the U.N.
- All female former presidents, prime ministers, kings, queens, and governors general who I could find enough color photographs of to be able to get a clear sense of what they look(ed) like (this didn't fully even out the male-female ratio I had available to choose from, but it did help a lot)
- Two politicians who didn't fall into any of the above categories but whose appearances were so striking to me that I felt a need to include them anyway
And I'm not asserting that my physical tastes are the most P.C. in the world or least P.C. in the world, either. I'm just saying I have them, so since I have them, I might as well examine what they are.
The Top 30 Most Physically Attractive Politicians, in Gayle's Opinion
30. George W. Bush (President, U.S.A.): You may have been thinking he wouldn't make the list at all, or you may now be thinking that his position as last on the list makes him last among politicians everywhere, but you'd be wrong to think either of those things. (For the record, the politician I deemed dead last in physical attractiveness out of all of them is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Actually, he wasn't even included by the rules of my selection pool stated above, but I added him just so I could put him last.) A few of you who've known me for several years may have heard me remark before on how disconcerting it was for me in the 2000 elections and shortly thereafter to attempt to connect my hatred of everything George W. Bush's name stands for in politics with the actual face on the screen in front of me, which I found really rather disconcertingly cute. Not all the time, I mean - but he does have that one particular expression that he wears rather often. I'm sure you're familiar with it: the utterly bewildered, confused, helpless expression of someone with the brain capacity of a particularly dense toddler who's just accidentally wandered into an important gathering of world leaders. I think he purposely uses it to try to pass himself off as being even stupider than he actually is, because it's harder to hate someone if you believe they're genuinely too stupid to understand the harm they're causing. Anyway, when I first encountered it, I found it hard to resist - the appearance of helplessness does have a certain appeal. But at this point his face has become sufficiently associated in my mind with his own individual loathsome identity that it registers more immediately as "EVIL MASS MURDERING MANIAC ON THE LOOSE!" instead of as "Aww, look at the poor helpless-looking male version of a damsel in distress--OH WAIT, THAT'S THE EVIL MASS MURDERING MANIAC ON THE LOOSE!" and as a result, he's already gone down about five spots on this list from where he originally stood.
29. Madeleine Albright (Former Secretary of State, U.S.A.): This woman has several excellent things going for her. First of all, not only are her glasses a fabulous shade of green, but she wears them pushed down her nose and peers over the top of them with unsurpassable style. Second, just look at those eyebrows in that third picture. Anyone who can arch their eyebrows into curves that haughty deserves a place on this list. She could rank even higher, except that she doesn't seem to be anywhere near as good at bright happy smiles as she is at looking haughty.
28. Anders Fogh Rasmussen (Prime Minister, Denmark): He has a very memorable face, and lots of repeating lines around his mouth when he smiles. I like those lines, and I like the distinctiveness. Shame about his politics, which are apparently "center-right." Of course, what's considered "center-right" in Denmark might be considered "center-left" in the U.S.
27. Condoleezza Rice (National Security Advisor, U.S.A.): I'm surprised that people don't seem to comment more often on just how attractive Condoleezza Rice really is. She's quite a good-looking person, despite having sold her soul to the devil known as George W. Bush. If she insists upon wearing makeup though, she really ought to consult someone with a better sense of which makeup colors look best on her. That blue eye shadow is hopelessly the wrong color for her, and I think she could do better than maroon lipstick, too.
26. Benazir Bhutto (Former Prime Minister, Pakistan): In the first picture she looks exceptionally friendly and approachable; in the middle picture she looks like she's very determinedly standing her ground about something; and in the third picture she looks kind of nerdy. These are all excellent traits, and I can't find any pictures of her in which she doesn't appear to possess at least moderate amounts of most of them.
25. John Edwards (Senator, U.S.A.): I'd heard John Edwards repeatedly described in the media as being "handsome," and I couldn't understand this at all because his press photographs didn't appeal to me in the least. A Google image search, however, revealed that although he still isn't really my type, his press photographs don't really do him justice. The images I picked here are much better ones. Oh, and an interesting bit of trivia: he's the only male politician I can find anywhere in the entire world who parts his hair on the right side instead of the left. Seriously, there's some kind of unbreakable worldwide rule about which side all the male politicians part their hair on, and John Edwards is the only one who's broken it. (The female politicians, on the other hand, seem very confused as to whether they should copy the males or figure that females must be assigned to the opposite side of the hair-parting division, and half of them just give up trying to decide and don't part their hair at all.) Now what I'd like to know is what exactly causes John Edwards to part his hair on the right. Did he miss the day in Politician School when they taught the lesson about Always Part Your Hair on the Left Side? Or is he deliberately trying to send the voters subliminal messages about how he dares to be different from other politicians? Or is he ultra-subtly indulging his secret transgendered side and hoping no one will notice?
24. Adrienne Clarkson (Governor General, Canada): She looks remarkably similar to the mother of my elementary school best friend Gina, actually, at least in that first picture. Maybe that's why I feel instantly drawn to her. Think she'd bake me cookies?
23. Sonia Gandhi (Congress President and recently offered but refused Prime Minister position, India): Look, another person who pushes glasses down her nose! She also just really looks like the kind of person who always knows what she's doing. That's probably very handy in politics. Oh, and there aren't many people who can get away with wearing that shade of near-fluorescent yellowish-green she's wearing in that third picture without it juxtaposing badly with their skin tone and making them look ill. I'm impressed.
22. Guy Verhofstadt (Prime Minister, Belgium): I believe most people have a particular look that they're ideally suited to be fabulous at. Guy Verhofstadt's ideal look would be "adorably dorky." Unfortunately he doesn't really play up his dorkiness enough most of the time, so it's only in flashes when he smiles and reveals the big gap between his two top front teeth that he achieves truly adorable dorkiness. If he took a few night classes on Increasing Your Dorkiness Quotient, I'm sure he could move up a bit in my rankings, because I definitely go for the dorky look often.
21. Vladimir Putin (President, Russia): He's fairly undistinctive-looking over all, which doesn't serve him well in my rankings since I usually go for distinctive faces (possibly because I'm not entirely good at recognizing people if they have certain very common undistinctive face types, and if when looking at a person I think "I will never manage to recognize this person if I ever meet them again," that tends to equate to, "Well then, I can't be all that attracted to them if they're this unmemorable"). However, he does have a certain air of determination or perhaps even a faint hauntedness about the eyes that gets him included.
20. Donald Rumsfeld (Secretary of Defense, U.S.A.): Donald Rumsfeld is a seriously good-looking man. Violently emotionally disturbed, certainly. Pure evil incarnate, certainly. But seriously good-looking, all the same. The only thing really wrong with his appearance is that all his attempts at smiling just come out dreadfully creepy. He should probably just stop smiling altogether so his evilness wouldn't show so much.
19. Chang Sang (Former Acting Prime Minister, South Korea): Unlike Adrienne Clarkson, Chang Sang doesn't especially resemble any of my friends' parents, but I still have a definite weakness for Asian people. Yes, I know I shouldn't admit to such a thing, but you'd figure it out anyway by the time you got to the end of this list. I think the only Asian politician I looked up who didn't make it onto this Top 30 list was Hu Jintao, the president of China, who has too much of a politician-ish smile for my taste. Oh wait, and Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines. I don't know why she didn't make it onto the Top 30. She was close.
18. Hasina Wajed (Former Prime Minister, Bangladesh): Perhaps it should be acknowledged that I would be attracted to just about anyone if they were wearing that shade of red she's wearing in the last photograph. Still, she's pretty. And I like big round glasses. And in the first picture, her hair has faint streaks of dark grey in it that I adore. I don't like her lipstick though.
17. Álvaro Uribe Vélez (President, Colombia): His politics are horrid, but his looks aren't. Nothing really out of the ordinary here though - just your basic classic beauty, much like Vladimir Putin, except that Uribe Vélez has darker hair and glasses, both of which tend to give him a slight advantage over Putin in my eyes. But only provided that their brains have been removed. If they come with brains attached, Putin is much less annoying.
16. John Kerry (Senator, U.S.A.): Of course I know he's weird-looking, but he's weird-looking in such an endearing way. For example, look at those lines through the middle of his cheeks in that last picture there. Have you ever seen anyone else with lines located in that particular position? They give his whole face this marvelous textured 3-D look in a way that nobody else's face is 3-D at all. The sad part is that some of his press photos catch him at an angle where the extra lines aren't visible at all and his face looks very nearly normal. Trust me, this is not a good thing. John Kerry's visual charm is his weird-lookingness, and the pictures that make him look less weird invariably destroy the charm.
15. Edith Cresson (Former Prime Minister, France): The first photograph of her is a press photograph, and like so many press photographs of politicians, it obscures her weird-lookingness and in doing so, also obscures much of her charm. She has an unusually shaped face, as is far more noticeable in the second two photographs, and I like it. I also like something about her eyelids in both of those.
14. Junichiro Koizumi (Prime Minister, Japan): Some countries, such as the U.S.A., have elected as their leader a person who looks like the ultimate steretype of the nation's people. Other countries, such as Japan, have elected as their leader a person who looks like the anti-stereotype. Junichiro Koizumi does not look like he belongs in a business suit. His hair is too curled, and in some pictures too longish, for him to fit in with business suit clones. His personality is too clearly playful. Oh yes, and his face! His face is altogther too distinctive for him to be a clone of anybody. And I like distinctiveness.
13. Dennis Kucinich (Member House of Representatives, U.S.A.): Dennis Kucinich has almost no eyebrows at all. It's a little odd, but I think it works for him. Nice smile, too. Besides, short men never fail to attract me. That's the real reason nobody will vote for him, you know. The tallest candidate always wins. I hate that.
12. Carol Moseley-Braun (Former Senator, U.S.A.): If there were an award given out for the brightest smile in American politics, Carol Moseley-Braun would win it. Plus, look at how she looks over the top of her glasses! I still really don't like makeup, but even I have to concede that she at least chooses her makeup colors with as much sense of what colors work on her as any professional makeup consultant.
11. Ruth Dreifuss (Former President, Switzerland): Unless you've spent the time I just did running Google image searches on every prominent female political leader you can find in the world, you have no idea how impossible it is to find any female politicians who don't wear makeup. I cannot, however, locate a single picture of Ruth Dreifuss anywhere in which she appears to be wearing makeup. This is a quite decidedly good thing. We have here your basic honest-looking unadorned female human being, and I like her face. Of course, I noticed that she does still shave her legs. I guess all democratically elected female politicians still have to cater to a few mainstream patriarchal beauty standards. (Oh, and another thing: she also happens to rather resemble my own mother. I'm not quite sure whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.)
. . . And now the Top 10! With bigger pictures for your viewing pleasure! . . .
10. Mikhail Fradkov (Prime Minister, Russia): Mikhail Fradkov has one of the roundest heads on this planet, and it happens to be quite cute. I'm sure there are people who fail to see his cuteness, but that's their problem. His eyebrows also seem to be raised in a kind of timid apologetic position in nearly every picture of him, and I fall for that.
9. Dame Eugenia Charles (Former Prime Minister, Dominica): Look, another woman who doesn't appear to be wearing any makeup! She also has lovely big round glasses. It was very very difficult to find pictures of her, but I was extra persistent since I knew she'd rank high on my list.
8. Tarja Halonen (President, Finland): I don't know how anyone could look at that big huge smile in her first picture here and not instantly like her. She has one of the biggest smiles in politics. She also has another strikingly honest-looking face - and quite charming hair, too. Incidentally, I see she's previously been the chairwoman of a national queer rights organization in Finland, although she has a husband and says she's heterosexual. I suppose I could always hope she's a closeted bi?
7. Roh Moo-hyun (President, South Korea): This man has truly perfected the art of looking utterly dismayed and utterly adorable simultaneously. Well, I guess he does have good reason to look dismayed after Kim Sun-il was recently beheaded in response to his sending troops to Iraq, but all these photographs of him are from before then, so the fact that he already looked so dismayed in so many of the pictures I found of him makes me inclined to suspect he was just aware of how cute his expression of dismay is and purposely displayed it as often as possible. He's also doing better at the dorky look than Guy Verhofstadt, although he could still increase his dorkiness quotient further if he worked at it.
6. Kofi Annan (Secretary-General, United Nations): There's an anecdote about Kofi Annan: it seems that when he left his native Ghana to attend college in Minnesota, he resolved never to wear earmuffs, because he deemed them unstylish. Eventually the temperatures forced him into wearing them, and the moral of this story, as Kofi Annan tells it, is: "Never walk into an environment and assume that you understand it better than the people who live there." But the moral of this story as I tell it is: "Even though necessities of health sometimes have to take precedence over it, Kofi Annan has long had a flawless fashion sense." I mean, look at the man. Go ahead, just try to picture him wearing earmuffs in those pictures. It's perfectly obvious that he just doesn't belong in earmuffs, and he knew exactly what he was doing when he resolved never to wear them. He's also totally beautiful, and anyone who fails to notice that obviously just hasn't gazed long enough upon that beatific smile of his in the first picture here.
5. Joschka Fischer (Foreign Minister, Germany): If you look up "adorableness" in the Oxford English Dictionary, Joschka Fischer is the illustration shown next to the definition. After discovering him I had to search Google for every single photograph ever taken of him just to gaze for hours upon his boundless array of superhumanly adorable facial expressions. Then I looked up news reports about him too, at which point I discovered that he's been divorced four times. Yes, well, all I can say is that you can certainly see why they keep marrying him!
4. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (President, Philippines): I'm really honestly not of the mindset that looking younger equals looking better - as you'll see when I get to numbers one and two, some people really just keep looking better and better with each new visible sign of age. Nonetheless, I would definitely like someone to explain to me how this person in these pictures can possibly be fifty-seven years old. I mean, she probably wasn't quite fifty-seven when most of them were taken, but she probably was over fifty. Please, explain what kind of a deal she made with the devil, and whether he also helped out in that recent close election. But anyway, I ranked her number three before I looked up her age and found out she looks 35 years younger than she actually is. I didn't take into account probable vampiristic tendencies in my ratings. I just have been making delighted squealing noises for years every time I come across a new picture of her.
3. Aung San Suu Kyi (Elected President but imprisoned and kept out of office, Burma): Everyone from #5 onward is someone whose photographs I've compulsively looked through for hours just for the sheer joy of gazing upon them. In the case of Aung San Suu Kyi I feel sort of guilty for this, because nobody's first reaction to hearing that a democratically elected president has been prevented from taking office by a military junta and imprisoned for years should really be, "Oooh, look at how pretty she is!" And that's really not my only reaction either, but sometimes it gets a little distracting when I'm trying to concentrate on the more noble reactions. Oooh, and look at what fabulous taste in hair decorations she has, too!
2. Indira Gandhi (Former Prime Minister, India): Indira Gandhi had a trademark: two prominent swirls of white hair on the right side of her head. Everyone should have a trademark, and it's much more impressive if you can accept and celebrate one that grew on you naturally - which, as far as I've been able to discern in my attempt to research it online, Indira Gandhi's seems to have done. Knowing that, how could you possibly fail to stand in awe of her? And even not knowing how she acquired it, how could you possibly fail to be impressed by the uniqueness of it, the two asymmetrical swirls of white remaining comfortingly consistent while so many other people search frantically for a new trademark every week and invariably choose the latest fashion that never really works as a trademark because half the other people on the block have suddenly started doing it too? How could you possibly not instantly want to get to know her?
1. Nelson Mandela (Former President, South Africa): I hope it's not some kind of sacrilege to name a person who's become a sort of secular living saint as the number one most physically attractive politician in the world. Hopefully proper feelings toward secular saints aren't bound by any Catholic-style taboos. Because see, I really couldn't possibly have named anyone else - in fact, he wouldn't have been included in my original selection pool at all by the guidelines I outlined above, since he's male and no longer a current president, but I added him in as a special exception just because he so obviously belonged at #1. He's 85 years old and with each year he ages he just gets more beautiful! He has a face that's exceptionally appropriate for him in that it transcends boundaries: in a lot of pictures of him he looks almost as much like a little old woman as he does like a little old man, and there's also something about the shape of his face that seems somehow very Asian to me even though he's not. Apparently he's so charming in person that one newspaper editor's wife who was complimented by him once remarked that she'd still have been charmed by him even if all he'd said to her was that she had spinach stuck in her teeth. Well, he won't be telling me I have spinach stuck in my teeth, both because I never eat spinach and because he's extremely unlikely to ever hear of my existence, but it seems that his charm works long-distance too.