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The appeal of skinny chix

An article in ELLE, brought to my attention by Jezebel ( <3 ), reports that men actually find emaciated women attractive. Sexy, even.

Here's the thing--they actually don't. Jezebel does a decent job of belittling this article via an example of a woman who lost tons of weight due to a parasite, but enjoyed increased male attention. I'll go out on a limb with a theory developed in conjunction with my Pop Feminist sistah.

In general--and I know I'm super generalizing here--men aren't really attracted to super-thin women. Waist-to-hip ration has been documented in many different cultures as the single greatest determining factor in the sexual appeal of a female body. As in, curvy always wins.

So what's up with the popularity and supposed sexiness of the gaunt form? Status, my friends. The fashion industry (spearheaded by gay men, who, dare I say it, may prefer an androgynous silhouette to a fecund feminine one) has popularized a thin aesthetic, and in collusion with Hollywood and the tabloid media, has made it a status symbol.

Thus, the same way a Rolex watch = status, so does skinny arm candy. Think about it--do you really find Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie, or Kirsten Dunst actually sexy? They may be attractive, appealing, fancy, fragile, aesthetically pleasing or whathaveyou--but sexy they ain't. (Edited to add: Compare to women like Salma Hayek, Kate WInslet, or Catherine Zeta-Jones--sizzle sizzle, right?)

So the ELLE article is a bit misdirected. Sure, men may report feelings of attraction to extra thin women, and skinny minnies may enjoy more attention at parties, but the pull is status more than sex drive.

I would be interested in seeing a sociological survey of women's bodies in porn, with a specific focus on the market towards which the movie is generated and the featured women's measurements. I can't say for certain, but I have a feeling that porn directed at the "gentleman" demographic (think Playboy) as a rule employs more svelte women than porn aimed at simply getting guys off with little regard for their desired economic status in society.

What do you all think?


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Totally. Bril.

this reminds me of an article i read in conspiracy magazine that posited the gay conspiracy was conspiring with death cultism and the diet industry to keep women deathly thin and skeleton-like.

i think there is a bit of pedophilia or maybe not that exactly, but i think straight adult men to whose gaze entertainment is pandering to (not porn, i mean all entertainment) like women who look like children, because they think they are weaker, or more naive, or more easily controlled and things like that.

On the other hand, the most infamously sexually vulnerable and apparently naive woman in history is probably Marilyn Monroe, a full-figured lady herself.

A thought about Marilyn. Perhaps one component of her eternal appeal is the fact that she had the sexy body AND the vulnerability of a waif. An irresistible combo!

I hadn't thought of it this way, but I do believe you're right. Men are conditioned to think that thin women are sexier, but check on who they actually pick.

Dude, I've been tellin' people this for years. Right on.

I found that as I got older and didn't allow accepted societal norms to dictate what I should like, I found so much more to love about curvy and even plump women. They're just more like real women instead of glossy magazine ads and that is more appealing, so needless to say when it comes to the porn I like, I most often seek out that which features naturally curvy and plump women (often of the Latina variety)!

I think you and Pop Feminist are absolutely right. Gay men control the world of fashion--hence the skinny, androgynous aesthetic. In the end, it's totally about status, not sex.

Thanks for this.

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