Casually realizing it’s who I am

San and Beth are good about putting pictures in their entries, and it looks like I’ve snagged that habit off of them. Will keep it going for the time being…


In my previous entry I wondered whether I’ve ever stepped on any part of the planet that no human ever had before. I figured not (and the next day’s hiking, while lots of fun, was so rain-soaked that it allowed for no new opportunities) — but thinking back, I did a lot of off-trail hiking and climbing around Aspen (the cliff above was one of our conquests) with my friend Andrew over the course of several summers while I was growing up. Chances are I scored then. Woohoo!

The UConn men and women are both doing amazingly well. Both were two-seeds going into the tournament (ha!), but both have made it to the Final Four in dominant fashion. In fact, they’re doing so well that my paranoid fan-ness (cultivated by years of being a Red Sox, England, and Newcastle fan) suggests that a collapse before the end seems inevitable. The men play Duke, perhaps the most hated team in college basketball, on Saturday. I’m pumped!

Last week I got on Lee’s case for not updating his blog in almost a year (never mind not replying to my emails :). But then I went and reread his last entry, which included this snippet:

Foosball was a learning experience, as AJ dominated the ranks and also strove to emphasize the beauty and science of the game and to elevate our play.

In fact, I think that’s one of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about me. So in the interest of keeping that entry as his latest, I’ve decided to stop bugging him :).

I really wanted to write about tradition (at least from a naive, outsider’s point of view) but I haven’t quite solidified my thoughts yet. So instead I’ll talk about attractiveness.

Okay, first: yes, physical attractiveness is a superficial trait. But then again, so are other seemingly more respectable traits, such as intelligence and, to a lesser degree, sense of humor. (I do think that the way someone’s sense of humor manifests itself — the types of jokes he or she makes or laughs at — is telling.) Neither attractiveness nor intelligence says anything about the kind of person someone is: whether she’s trustworthy, kind, good-natured, generous, etc.

Now I’ll be the first to admit I’m a superficial guy: I like attractive, smart, funny women. But as I get older, it becomes more and more obvious that these traits alone do not a good relationship make. Still nice to have though!

I had a point here, but I don’t remember what it was… probably some attempt to rationalize why I always write about superficial things. Haha.

Anyway, now that I’ve cleared my conscience (phew! :), I can continue. The way I see it, there are three qualities that guys find physically attractive in women: cuteness, hotness, and beauty. Women can exhibit any combination of the three (or, possibly, all three at once!). No one quality is intrinsically valued higher than the other two, although I imagine different guys weight each of the three differently according to personal taste. Furthermore, possessing two or three of the qualities is not necessarily better than possessing just one. In short, I’d consider the metrics roughly orthogonal and thus not comparable.

I’ll give some examples:
Cute: Renee Zellweger
Hot: Carmen Electra
Beautiful: Nicole Kidman
Cute and hot: Britney Spears, Tara Reid
Cute and beautiful: Julianne Moore
Hot and beautiful: Liz Hurley

I don’t want to give any more examples because I fear that they (and even the ones I listed) might stir up controversy and obscure the underlying theory, which I think is quite sound :). However, if you mention any particular actress, it’s fairly easy to categorize her in any of the eight possible categories.

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8 Responses to Casually realizing it’s who I am

  1. awu says:

    Are you sure that intelligence and beauty are not correlated somehow to the type of person someone is? Maybe people who are more X are treated differently when they grow up, encouraging personality traits Y and Z to be activated more on average. We certainly bias our judgments based on our perceptions of (in)tangible aesthetics.

    • aj says:

      If there’s one thing I’m sure about, it’s that I’m not sure of anything :).

      I certainly allow for the possibility of correlation.

      Could you make any specific predictions, though? I.e. intelligent people are nicer, or beautiful people are less generous, or something?

      I don’t think I could.

      • judytuna says:

        I agree. That physical features somehow affect the way others act or react towards you and that affects your personality. Maybe.

        I am, however, too tired to think of any correlations. I did, however, think of this correlation: that study where it was found that teachers treated short kids as younger and less capable/intelligent, and as a result the tall kids did better in school. That’s an example of physical features affecting how others treat you, and that in turn affecting… uh, something. But you said intelligence was superficial…

        I don’t know how superficial intelligence is compared to other things like personality. You can learn to be more generous; you can learn to be mean. Oh, maybe you meant “superficial” as in, intelligence != a good person (morally, socially, etc).

        I’m trying to think of whether I or other girls partition up types of attractiveness like that. I don’t use your cute/hot/beautiful metric, because I think of cuteness as primarily how someone acts. Someone who looks cute probably looks that way because they act cute. I think Nicole Kidman, who definitely possesses beauty of the cold-marble-standoffish type, can also look (be) cute. I think that for Gillian Anderson too. Well, it might be different since I’m a heterosexual girl. Actually, I think I classify different types of attractiveness (of males) on a sliding scale of “dangerousness,” like, I thought Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson were both hot, but K looks more “dangerous” than B. Translating to your metric, B is “cuter” than K. Invoking the backstreet boys probably was not the best move on my part. Oh well.

        • dianaca4 says:

          oh judy you’re so cute!

        • aj says:

          “Oh, maybe you meant ‘superficial’ as in, intelligence != a good person (morally, socially, etc).”

          Yup that’s what I meant!

          Dangerousness is a cool metric. Thanks for posting; I was actually wondering whether girls occasionally think of guys in a similarly “reductionist” fashion, but didn’t want to be obnoxious and presume as such :).

  2. jredburn says:

    Interesting that I have the exact same metric (cute, hot, beautiful), but I’ve always held that beautiful did have some negative connotations — an almost standoffish quality — and that cute and beautiful were almost impossible to combine. Julianne Moore is as close as I’ve heard, however.

    • aj says:

      Yeah, I agree.

      If I were to pick someone to date, I’d go with cute (in fact, I go so far as to use “cute” colloquially in a blanket sense to mean “attractive/sexy”, which apparently annoys some people :). Cute people tend to seem nicer that beautiful ones, because I guess of that standoffish quality you mentioned.

      However, it terms of pure physical attraction (relationships aside), I find beauty compelling, too.

      As for cute/beautiful, I’d definitely say Keira Knightley falls into this category. So does Charlize Theron, but just barely: she’s more beautiful than cute.

      Glad to see we agree on the principle, though :)

  3. simplyjeska says:

    i was just talking about this cute/hot/beautiful thing with one of my other friends, and he would like to nominate katie holmes for all three categories.