Freddie deBoer on “the new attractive”

May 20, 2022 • 12:30 pm

The title of this new piece from Fredie deBoer’s Substack (it’s free, but subscribe if you read often) seems to be paradoxical, but it refers to the fracas that started (or was intensified) by the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue (henceforth “SI”; see the models here).  Actually, companies like Victoria’s Secret an others have started to realize that not all women look like underfed runway models, and have started selling items and sizes that are suitable for women who are closer to the average.

The new SI features women who are curvier (or older) than models that have traditionally featured in this popular issue. One of them, Yumi Nu, is shown below.

Click to read:

As expected, there were howls of outrage from men who wanted to see the traditional models decked out in a few square millimeters of cloth, and didn’t have any truck with women who didn’t look like Heidi Klum. One of these men was, of course, Jordan Peterson, who emitted this hurtful and thoughtless tweet, I suppose because he feels that it helps the world when he says whatever’s on his mind:

First of all, “not beautiful” is his opinion; there are plenty of men, including deBoer himself, who find Nu attractive.  People can argue about whom they find beautiful, and often there’s a sort-of consensus, at least among men, but there’s no denying that beauty, at least as conveyed in a photo, is subjective, and to deem someone “ugly” who looks like Nu is reprehensible. (I’m not taking up the issue of whether using “curvy” models is bad because it sometimes glorifies unhealthy weights. I wrote about that a while back.)

At any rate, I think we agree that beauty, at least in photographs, is subjective but not wildly divergent. But there’s enough divergence that every “type” of man or woman can be seen as attractive by others.

But that’s not what deBoer is on about: he’s on, properly, about those people who say that is our responsibility as social-justice inclined people to find everyone beautiful, whether we consider them too fat, too skinny, too ugly, or, if you include personality, too unpleasant. (Everyone knows that personality plays a huge role in who we see as “beautiful”, but we’re talking about pictures in a magazine.) If someone finds Nu unattractive, then he doesn’t have to pursue her.  The argument being bruited about, though, is that we must find people like Nu attractive, for it’s a form of “fat” discrimination you don’t.  Unfortunately, each person has a standard of beauty. This also goes when we’re talking about transgender people. I have heard cis men chewed out, for example, because they said they didn’t find trans men as attractive or as suitable sexual partners. If you don’t, then you’re “transphobic”.

This latter movement to shame people for who they find attractive or not is what deBoer is discussing, and I tend to agree with him.  What attracts us is a complex mixture of physical and psychological attractiveness, depends on our own unique brains, and it’s virtually impossible to be attracted to someone who doesn’t meet what standards of “beauty” each of us have. And shaming them if they don’t is ludicrous.  It reminds me of people telling others that they should believe in God because it’s good for them and for society; yet for people like me it’s simply impossible to force myself to become a believer. Some tastes are simply unalterable, even in the face of social justice hectoring. You can’t make someone who is wild about Rembrandt become attracted to Warhol paintings.  The need to do so as an imperative is what I call “psychological fascism”. This attitude, by the way, is completely different from arguments about things like morality and political beliefs, where minds can change.

But the whole point here is to quote deBoer’s trenchang summary of the issue, an so I’ll give a long quote from the end of his piece. The emphases are mine.

And here’s the point: the question that supposedly gets raised by these periodic controversies, which of course Sports Illustrated and other magazines actively court, is “can fat women be sexy?” The answer to that is of course. But they’re sexy because of human attributes that are no more egalitarian or fair than body fat percentage is. A fat person can be beautiful, and people of all races can be beautiful, and trans and cis people can be beautiful, and disabled people can be as well. But ugly people can’t be beautiful, and how is that any less of an “injustice”? The reality is that physical attraction is not equitable, just, or fair, as it operates under a visceral logic that’s immune to the intellectualized politics of what we intend, and who we get horny for is in large measure part of our evolutionary endowment as an animal species. That which is not genetically conditioned is still powered by psychological animal spirits that are beyond our understanding or control. And what I don’t understand is why this circumstance is perceived to be any fairer or in line with social justice than someone only being into thin women. Why will you get canceled, in certain spaces, for saying that you’re not attracted to fat women but not if you say that you’re not attracted to unattractive women? It’s not remotely internally consistent.

I have brought this up before, usually to howls of anger, but…. I’ve spent my adult life in lefty spaces (media, academia, and activism), and have been surrounded by people who embrace non-traditional masculinity and endlessly critique the traditional form. And those gay men and straight women among them? Yeah, they almost inevitably liked traditionally masculine men when it came to sex and romance. The mind conceives but the body desires. I’d go to academic conferences and see women give impassioned presentations about how conventional masculinity is rape culture, but then later that night at the mixer they weren’t exactly rushing to flirt with the sensitive 5’7 guys. Because you don’t choose who you’re attracted to.

I’m all for diversifying the bodies we see in media, but we have to always bear in mind that no one can control who they’re attracted to and there’s nothing deficient about a man who isn’t attracted to a particular fat woman. I think it’s great to highlight different kinds of bodies, but it’s great because bodies are attractive in different ways – we’re still bowing to the god of being hot, who will never be woke. Widening concepts of sexiness represent progress, but not feminist progress. It’s not some blow struck against patriarchy or whatever. (I assure you that patriarchy is not threatened by sad guys jacking off to heavier models than they used to.) And it’s a symptom of a broader cultural addiction to trying to shoehorn every last development in human society into some reductive social justice frame that doesn’t fit. “There’s more ways to be attractive than our society has traditionally recognized, and actually a lot of guys find some fat women very hot” is a perfectly progressive and coherent message, a good one. Far better, anyway, than the mental gymnastics that people try to perform to somehow make hotness subject to the demand for equality and justice.

As you know, I’m someone who believes that, for example, some lucky people are born inclined to be smart, or good at making music, or with an artist’s temperament. Some people deeply disagree. But nobody I’m aware of doubts that some people are just born beautiful, and life for the beautiful is not the same as life for the rest of us. We’re all dealt a hand, and we play it. Why can’t we accept that simple wisdom?

71 thoughts on “Freddie deBoer on “the new attractive”

  1. Fat acceptance can be harmful in that it encourages the belief that you can be healthy at any weight.

    1. I feel like there’s a simple solution here that would apply to both Peterson and deBoer. You don’t really need to declare loudly and publicly who you DON’T find attractive. In fact, it seems almost always to be at least a personal attack if not a misogynistic or transphobic one.

      The only place it feels at all relevant to assert what you DON’T find attractive is maybe in a dating app, but in that case everyone is judging everyone else and usually privately, so there’s a certain equity there.

        1. In the passage you cite, deBoer complains that you can get canceled for declaring who you find unattractive. So he is in fact talking about exactly that, at least in part. Besides, logically, who would know to cancel you for not finding curvier women unattractive if you managed to keep that thought to yourself (exactly as you imply Peterson should have done)?

          1. Aren’t we supposed to be free to talk about our sexual desires? Isn’t this kink-shaming, to use the parlance of social justice? Are we supposed to pucker up when people literally are modelling? The whole point of this is to portray these women as attractive; doing so and then shaming anyone who says out loud that they don’t is like saying, “everyone eat this pie and specifically tell us how amazing it is so we can promote it. And don’t you dare tell us if you don’t like it! But shout out loud that you do.”

            And I’ve noticed a pretty blatant double-standard when it comes to men. Not seeing many fat male models out there, and not seeing people shamed for calling anyone who doesn’t fall in line something like “fat netckbeards who live in mom’s basement,” or whatever twist on that you can think of and have seen a million times. And it seems perfectly fine — even liberating” — for women to openly discuss who and what they don’t find attractive.

            1. An excellent point. We must ensure women have to look at fat male models and they shall not be allowed to fat shame them. That’s equality!

      1. In general, I would agree… but in this case, when “here’s what you have to consider attractive now” is basically pushed in your face, you have a right to say “nope”. Peterson isn’t being very diplomatic, but I don’t see a lot of difference between his “authoritarian tolerance” and our host’s “psychological fascism”.

      2. “In fact, it seems almost always to be at least a personal attack if not a misogynistic or transphobic one.” Really? You must therefore be unaware of the countless cultural references to ‘unattractive’ men that happen all the time, all over the place. Men are often denigrated for their looks without anyone batting an eyelid.

        It’s perfectly acceptable for a woman in public life to describe a man as physically revolting. A common theme in literature and music is the tall, handsome man and the association of these characteristics with his degree of desirability as a sexual partner. Yet rejection of short, bald or fat men is given nowhere near the same disdain as when applied against women.

        Take Taylor Swift – who incidentally, I think is unbelievably talented – she constantly tries to convey a very woke message in her songs and her public persona. In her song ‘Wildest Dreams’ she is happy to use the phrase “He’s so tall and handsome as hell”. Yet, she is seen as a feminist icon and often rails against the inbuilt misogyny of the patriarchy. The equivalent phrase from a man might be, ‘She’s so thin, and pretty as hell’. If a leading male pop star were to write and sing that lyric in this day and age, he would be considered a misogynist, yet Taylor Swift is considered super-progressive!

        BTW, I think both Taylor and my hypothetical man singer should be able to use both phrases without any comeback at all. However, there is a huge imbalance in this sort of thing – men can do nothing about their height, but it’s usually fair game to pick fun and proclaim as a woman you only like tall men. Say you don’t like fat women, and you are a misogynist!

        By the way, I usually support Jordan Peterson in arguments as I often find that he is maligned unfairly. People tend not to listen to his ideas and are quick to discredit him based on their preconceptions.

        Peterson is a very good psychologist, with a solid record as a scholar. However, I do agree that he occasionally supports stupid and illiberal ideas, and spouts about them needlessly. This is one such occasion – in my view his tweet is unpleasant, unnecessary, juvenile and needlessly cruel. He is being deliberately mean, and on this occasion, I would very much agree with anyone suggesting he’s behaving like an entitled, arrogant dick.

        1. I did not excuse calling men ugly, nor would I encourage it. Not sure where you got that.

          I think portrayals in fiction are a different, though related, matter

          I also said nothing about calling anyone “attractive”. That’s a lot more complicated— sometimes welcome and sometimes not. I’m only pointing out that generally there’s no reason to publicly call any real person, man or woman or otherwise, unattractive.

          You can certainly feel however you want, but there’s a certain arrogance in thinking the world needs to know that particular feeling of yours. That’s precisely what’s repulsive about Peterson, but ultimately deBoer is doing much the same thing, just a tad more subtly.

    2. Fat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy as there are tons of skinny people who are unhealthy due to their eating habits. Being beautiful and happy with yourself is key. There are plenty of “overweight” marathon runners…

      1. Sorry but this is illogical. You say “fat doesn’t necessarily mean unhealthy” (which can be true) but then justify it by saying the some skinny people are unhealthy. That doesn’t follow at all! The fact is that obese and grossly obese people stand a much higher risk of many health conditions (diabetes, heart disease) than do people who are slimmer (I’m not talking about those with anorexia).

        I’d rather be skinny and not good looking than morbidly obese than handsome.

        And could you give me the name of grossly obese and high-achieving marathon runners.

        Sorry, but your argument doesn’t carry any water.

        1. Technically, it does, I’m sorry to say. According to BMI, the lowest death rate is in the mildly overweight band, as the normal and underweight bands have higher death rates. And, yes, the severely overweight and the obese and morbidly obese have higher death rates still.

          And all that means at the end of the day is that we labelled the BMI curves wrongly!

          1. Technically, it doesn’t. What are your sources for that claim? There have been many good studies on BMI and mortality in adults, and a consistent finding is that mortality starts to slowly increase above 25 kg/m². More striking is the sharp increase in mortality in people with BMI between 18 and 20.

            The most comprehensive study I am aware of is this one published in the Lancet in 2016. The authors performed a meta-analysis of 239 studies across four continents and a total of 10,625,411 participants. These were prospective studies that followed people over many years, allowing researchers to track BMI in the years prior to a person’s death. I don’t know where your figures are from, but I suspect you may be referring to BMI at the time of death. Those figure are significantly skewed due to the fact that many people lose a lot of weight in the months before they die.

            Here are the headline findings of that meta-analysis:

            All-cause mortality was minimal at 20·0–25·0 kg/m² (HR 1·00, 95% CI 0·98–1·02 for BMI 20·0–<22·5 kg/m²;
            1·00, 0·99–1·01 for BMI 22·5–<25·0 kg/m²), and increased significantly both just below this range (1·13, 1·09–1·17
            for BMI 18·5–<20·0 kg/m²; 1·51, 1·43–1·59 for BMI 15·0–<18·5) and throughout the overweight range (1·07,
            1·07–1·08 for BMI 25·0–<27·5 kg/m²; 1·20, 1·18–1·22 for BMI 27·5–<30·0 kg/m²).

  2. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” says not the Bard, but Margaret Hungerford (today’s thing learned). Perhaps this is why traditional Literature is falling out of favor; it tends to reflect actual life. I think it’s fine if the Media expands images of people to include folks who fall outside the waif-model spectrum. I think Peterson was rude to comment as he did, and it was uncalled for. If he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t have to buy the magazine. Some people like big women, some small, some blondes, some redheads with freckles. To each his, or her, own.

  3. Mr. deBoer is always highly intelligent, as in his summary of the woke mentality: “…trying to shoehorn every last development in human society into some reductive social justice frame that doesn’t fit”. In this case, the reductive “social justice” frame is a misunderstanding of egalitarianism. But it is always
    a matter of shoehorning everything into one grossly oversimplified frame or another. An earlier version of the same mentality insisted on shoehorning Genetics, literature, and musical composition into the insights of Marxism-Leninism. The addiction is to a totalizing reductive frame that pretends to explain everything in the universe. That is why this mentality is invariably correlated with authoritarian structures, from the dicta of Commissar Andrei Zhdanov about culture, to the contemporary dicta about the need for academics to file professions of faith in DEI. [By the way, it might be fitting that Zhdanov’s name was given for some years to a city in the USSR. Before and after it was called Zhdanov, the city was Mariupol.]

  4. “I’m not taking up the issue of whether using “curvy” models is bad because it sometimes glorifies unhealthy weights. I wrote about that a while back.”

    It is of course also the case that using skinny ‘underfed runway models’ can glorify unhealthy weights.

  5. I agree with DeBoer. The problem with Peterson is not that he isn’t attracted to Nu. The problem is that Peterson is a shallow prick.

    1. Agree, but it’s also clear than the SI model is obese and thus unhealthy. If people can’t see that, they need to get out of the US more.

      1. The SI model is not “obese”. She might be “overweight” by the height/weight chart. There is a difference between the two categories. A relatively small proportion of people are at “ideal” weight in the US. But the SI model does not look to be in the range where it would be a serious health issue.

        1. You’re not wrong, but it’s a bit more complicated. Even the definition of ‘obesity’ varies from country to country. I wish we weren’t stuck using BMI (waist-to-hip ratio is much more useful). Japan considers a BMI over 25 kg/m^2 to be obese, while the US considers 30+ to be obese. For someone 6′ tall, that is 185 lbs and 222 lbs, respectively.

          1. Yes, BMI is a crude tool, and one that can’t distinguish between a couch potato and a bodybuilder.

            1. It is a crude tool on an individual level, but, for most people, the 222 pounds for most people who are six feet tall would be very significantly overweight. There are definitely a good number of people with enough muscle mass to make that untrue, but I think most people who are six feet tall should not consider 222 pounds to be a healthy weight.

    2. Pererson disclosed once that the more controversial/antiwoke opinion he utters the more money he gets via Patreon. Since then one cannot be sure if he really means what he says and writes.

  6. I’m on Peterson’s side. “Beauty” is not an opinion: it can (and has) been measured (ie, hip-to-waist ratio, facial symmetry, etc). However, while beauty is objective, attraction is subjective… which is a good thing for those of us who are not genetically gifted.

    1. I am not so sure. The model shown here seems to have a nice symmetrical face and a nice hip to waist ratio, certainly greater than some to waist ratios of supposedly beautiful thin models.

    2. Of course it is. Yes, you can measure hip-to-waist ratio and facial symmetry, but all you are doing is measuring hip-to-waist ratio and facial symmetry. Beauty is an intrinsically subjective concept in that it can only be defined personally, based on your experience of an external phenomenon, and your internal reaction to it.

      Obviously, there are certain criteria which might statistically correlate with most people’s ideas of beauty, but those criteria are not, and and cannot be definitive and objective.

      Most people love steak, they find it delicious. However, that doesn’t mean steak IS delicious. Yes, it’s full of protein and fat and has a deep, meaty, umami taste. It’s likely to be appealing to an omnivore like yourself, but you cannot deem it delicious by anything other than your experience of it. Deliciousness or beauty are not properties of an object. They’re an experience of it, your experience.

      Lots of people hate steak, lots of people like fat women, or love pudgy men. All three are examples of potentially beautiful phenomena which can only be confirmed by subjective experience. The quality of steak’s deliciousness only exists as a manifestation of your brain’s experience to eating steak. It is neither objective nor measurable, neither is your idea of beauty; it’s your internal experience of something, and it cannot be determined quantitively.

      If beauty was objective, you would be able to provide universal scoring criteria and a quantitative assessment of that beauty based on appropriate and objectively chosen units. What would those criterial be, and how would you decide them objectively?

      1. Technically, it’s all subjective but that does not mean that there aren’t objective criteria that define a scale of better and worser. Otherwise, how would you know if a steak is good or a glass of pinot noir?

        1. Because people disagree on what is “better or worser”. Some like their steaks rare, others (ugh) well done. You are contradicting yourself by saying that everything is subjective but some criteria are objective.
          You can DEFINE “objective” criteria (a good steak must be rare), but that doesn’t make them objective.

          1. Thanks for the reply Jerry.
            You’re technically correct by the book but I would make an analogy to Sam Harris’s Moral Landscape argument which he formulated to avoid the subjective and arbitrary trappings of moral relativism, claiming that there are objective moral facts that derive from human well-being. His examples of the Taliban (culture) and vomiting at all hours of the day (health) as being definitionally antithetical to human flourishing is objectively true if words are to mean anything. Practically, he is right but technically he is wrong because if someone wants to cut off body parts every day and construe their subjective experience as well being, that’s OK, but they can never be objectively wrong.

            My analogy would be to invoke an aesthetic landscape. There is expertise even in subjective fields that constitute a rough consensus of what standards make for great, good, bad, and horrible. In the middle of subjectivity lies debatable opinion but at the extremes lies pretty durable true statements. A glass of wine that has overoxidized and turned to vinegar cannot be considered good if words are to mean anything and this beverage would almost cease to be characterized as wine anymore. A few people might prefer the taste but we would consider their assessment “wrong” that it is a good glass of wine. Objectively wrong? No, that’s impossible it seems but I’m comfortable (as Sam suggested) with invoking “aesthetic realism” and “culinary realism” in analogy to moral realism.

            In the extreme, values do converge on facts and unanimous subjective consensus starts to look like objectivity.

  7. > The reality is that physical attraction is not equitable, just, or fair, as it operates
    > under a visceral logic that’s immune to the intellectualized politics of what we intend

    I’m torn. I agree with a lot of this, but there is also a significant degree to which media determines some degree of personal preference. Shifting from body types to other topics, there is an increasing number of mixed race relationships both in real life and in the media. I don’t want to confuse correlation and causation, but I think the media may be reshaping some desires. Heck, if anything, differing perception of attractiveness within various subcultures seems to indicate that there is something more cultural here than strict evolutionary advantage.

  8. I would like to say for the record that, sorry, Jordan Peterson is NOT attractive, and no amount of his fussy clothing choices or his authoritarian intolerance is going to change that.

    1. I think he can live with that assessment, seeing how he’s happily married, and has been called a lot of things much worse than “NOT attractive”.
      Also, he doesn’t work as a model, whereas attractiveness should be the deciding factor who is on the SI Swimsuit cover.

      1. No JP is not a swimsuit model, thank Dog, but he does fancy himself a public intellectual, so maybe his public commentary should be a little less insipid.

      1. Good one, DrB. 🙂

        Guess his grandma never warned him that if he kept making that face, it might freeze that way.

    2. And you should have every right to say so! Especially if he models for a magazine.

      (to be clear, I think Peterson’s tweet was a callous and nasty expression, but I wouldn’t mind if he said, “well, I personally don’t find that attractive, and many other people don’t either, and we should be allowed to express that”)

      1. Same with Chris Rock and Bill Maher. Re: Jada Pinkett-Smith’s alopecia. Maher’s “red line” is cancer. I wonder if he thinks Progeria in children is fair game for comic ridicule.

  9. The fact is, as Jerry has stated, that we have no control over who we find attractive (which is the key argument for acceptance of homosexuality). Also, the distribution of attractive features across the population is completely random and in no sense fair. No amount of wokeness will change that. You get what you’re born with, unless you have a lot of money and a brilliant plastic surgeon.

    As for Sports Illustrated, it’s a commercial publication whose profits depend on appealing to as broad an audience as possible. The swimsuit issue is clearly and has always been a cheap subscription booster with no relation to sports but relies an appeal to men’s carnal instincts. The current cover is unlikely to achieve that end and will likely not sell well, in spite of its attempt to be inclusive.

    1. > The current cover is unlikely to achieve that end and will likely not sell well

      I’m not sure if there are clear and useful metrics we can analyze. We have seen story after story about print media dying, so all of the numbers are already off. People who are interested in the content of the Swimsuit Issue have been finding that content online for the past 20 years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the PC crowd bought up as many copies as they can find just to show how supportive they are of the new approach. A lot of the print media reboots I’m seeing are for commemorative collectors’ copies or virtue signalling.

      1. Back in the dark ages, when doctors’ waiting rooms had magazines patients could handle (now they are not allowed to touch anything without some Lysol spray being used immediately afterwards), publications like Sports Illustrated were a staple along with Time, Newsweek and some form of Good Housekeeping. Subscription rates for offices are very low indeed, as the waiting room is seen as a free trial and somebody might take out a subscription after reading an issue as they waited. I’m sure this keeps some big titles going in print.

        I’m afraid I used my waiting room as a propaganda source. Yes, there was Newsweek (until it stopped the print version leaving me with a three year subscription to an electronic version which didn’t help the waiting room at all!), but also Skeptic, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Free Inquiry and CounterPunch. A rather pleasant baptist lady used to steal the Free Inquiry (I’m sure she wasn’t going to read it but wished to prevent such filth being seen), so I put up a notice asking Christians to remember the eighth commandment. She stopped, but subscribed me to every possible newsletter from Focus on the Family in revenge. Fun times!

  10. A lot of this discussion is about what *we* find beautiful or attractive. How about the other end of the telescope? I have never thought I was particularly good-looking, but I usually managed to find girls to go out with, and one day I married one. We’ve now kept it up for 48 years, so there must be something to mutual attraction other than physical perfection. Indeed, there are plenty of “beautiful” women (and indeed “good-looking” men) I find pretty unattractive, mostly after they open their mouths.

    1. Well said! Someone can be exactly my type physically, but if we’re on a date and they, say, are extremely rude to other people, my brain will immediately find them “ugly.” There’s no longer an attraction there.

      When I was younger and less certain of what I wanted out of a long-term relationship, I once went on a couple of dates with a woman who was physically perfect for me, but she was very much on the lower end of the IQ scale. After the first date, I thought to myself that I might be able to look past that. During the second date, I mentioned a bill that was soon to be voted on by Congress at that time. but she didn’t know about it. “OK,” I said to myself, “most people aren’t as up on current events as I am.” Then, as I was explaining what was happening with the bill, I mentioned “the Republicans,” and she interjected with, “they’re the bad ones, right?” All physical attraction was immediately terminated, and not because she thought the Republican Party was or is “bad!” No, because she didn’t even know the parties or what they stood for. The entire extent of her knowledge regarding our government — hell, probably our country — was “I’m pretty sure, but not positive, that the Republicans are the ones I’m not supposed to like according to my social circle.” and she didn’t even know that with any certainty, for otherwise she wouldn’t have asked me! And she was comfortable asking me, as if figuring out which people she isn’t supposed to like was an entirely reasonable course of intellectual pursuit.

      EDIT: And, of course, there’s the other side of the same coin. I’ve dated women that I wouldn’t have looked at twice, but who became marvelously attractive to me based on their heart and their brains. That rush of endorphins when you just click with someone is a powerful thing. It’s the same reaction parents get when they look at their child and think it’s the most beautiful kid in the world.

      IOW, physical attraction ain’t just about the physical.

      1. Very well said. And I’ll go out on my tree-hugging, sappy limb: I do think there is or was beauty in everyone. Life is amazing and beautiful, just in of and itself. It can be diminished – for sure – and enhanced by how we live. And so I think beauty is separate from the subjective assessment of bangability.

  11. Good grief. In what alternative universe is this woman “fat”. (As opposed to “normal weight, just not model skinny?)

    1. Most of us, even with healthy BMIs, don’t look very good, stripped down, but de gustibus non est disputandum.

      Dr Peterson is a much more knowledgeable man than I am, so I wonder what he would make of words such as ‘voluptuous’, ‘Rubenesque’ and ‘steatopygia’.

      Edit: meant to be a stand-alone comment rather than a reply to #11.

  12. We may not have much control over who we find beautiful or attractive, but we might have more control over the weight we give to “attractiveness” when it comes to picking a partner. Social media and the ready availability of multiple possibles on dating sites seem to have skewed the cultural importance of being “hot” over the significance of, say, being interesting, kind, or wise. Used to be people would say she or he “has a great personality” and it was considered a selling point. Mostly.

  13. I will concede that Ms. Nu’s body could be considered attractive if my interlocutor will concede that all her cellulite and stretch marks have been photoshopped away.
    And yes I know that all professional models wear makeup and their still photos are altered to better sell whatever they are selling. But I also know what she would look like on a beach wearing that swimsuit in the flesh.

  14. I don’t consider it polite or necessary to publicly bleat insults about people I find physically unattractive, but I missed the alleged memo that this also means I am supposed to think all people are physically attractive. Is that even a real thing? I doubt it. “Tolerance” (the word Peterson uses) of someone’s physical unattractiveness is not the same as being forced to think they’re physically attractive—it’s just basic civility.

    Besides, people who want to publicly berate unattractive people can easily do so to their heart’s content. Anyone who thinks otherwise has never been on a social media site. No one is stopping Peterson, as we see, so really, what is his beef?

  15. The sexual aspects of this overlap a lot with the transwomen “cotton ceiling” trope, which has been discussed at length in court this week during Allison Bailey’s Employment Tribunal. (There’s nothing quite like a posh British lawyer talking on the record about transwomen, coercion, and “trying to get into lesbians’ knickers”!)

    The argument goes that for a lesbian to refuse to have sex with one transwoman with a penis is fine, but to rule out the possibility of doing so with any such transwoman is transphobia. The times we live in…! The look on the face of Employment Judge (Sarah) Goodman during the exchanges was a picture.

  16. I was at work all day and am late to the party; however, I’m just as much off-base as anybody else, so here goes: how is this attraction stuff any different from taste in food? I don’t care how many people tell me that Brussels sprouts taste good. They don’t. I don’t care how many people tell me that an overweight model is hot. She isn’t. Your standards are not mine.
    Having said that, please note that I would never tell my host that her Brussels sprouts suck. Nor would I berate an overweight model. I would simply pass, in both cases.

    1. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to discuss whether or not a restaurant’s Brussels sprouts suck, and I think that analogy carries over here. They’re putting them out for public consumption and, by extension, public discussion. Similarly, a model in a SI swimsuit issue is there for a reason: to push the idea of attractiveness. That’s been the business of the swimsuit issue for literally my entire lifetime, and it’s clearly still the issue now, as they made a conscious choice to “create a dialogue” or “change the paradigm” or whatever, and spawn conversations like these. So, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to opine on the attractiveness of models in the SI swimsuit edition.

      Frankly, I think it’s reasonable to discuss the attractiveness of anyone one sees in public, so long as one does so at a volume and audience level commensurate with that person’s public profile. Men and women alike should be able to talk amongst themselves about who they think is or isn’t attractive in their class, workplace, etc. These are natural things, and no amount of shaming or finger-wagging will stop them.

  17. I agree that what we find attractive is unique to each individual, and not for others to disclaim. That said, I also think that attraction is conditioned in part by socialization. Just as long hair is fashionable during some periods—and people find it attractive for reasons of “fashion,”— the Twiggy look is fashionable at other times. So, attractiveness is the combined result of biological and social factors. But, most importantly, attractiveness really is “to each its own.”*

    *Use of the word “its” is purposeful, as I don’t want to have to create a string of 64 genders, e.g., he/she/they/….

  18. What makes Jordan Peterson think that anyone else gives a shit about which women give Jordan Peterson a boner?

    And isn’t this Jordan Peterson, who’s now bitching about “authoritarian tolerance,” the same Jordan Peterson who came out in favor of “enforced monogamy” for women, so that his incel fans could find a date?

    The appeal of this Peterson fella is lost on me.

  19. What is ‘attracitiveness’? Let us be clear: an attractive person is one you’d like to f*ck, my apologies if you find that too direct. In my taste, the lady in the white bikini looks eminently f*ckable, the lady in the black bikini much less so. Weird.
    Yes, I know there are many other factors, but this is about physical attraction.

    1. @Nicolaas Stemplas- Or as I’ve been wont to call it: a subjective assessment of bangability. And very amusingly – my phone knows that sequence of words for auto predict.

  20. Super late to the party with two thoughts:

    I’m in the ‘there’s a lid for every pot’ crowd, while acknowledging that some pots have more lids than others.

    Once when I was ten, I declared Spokane, WA the most beautiful city in the world.


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