Re: Madison Ave.Love (was) True love may just be all in your head

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Jul 08 2000 - 16:37:48 MDT writes:

> Anders you always have such interesting responses.

Thanks! :-)

> Yet, looking back in history on what was considered beautiful, I wonder how
> much of our infatuation with the "average" is a product of just plain *Being
> Bombarded* with "perfect" blonde-blue eyed face after face after face,
> "perfect" size body after body after body? With relentless purpose, the
> fashion industry has induced in us an ever younger, creaseless, more bland
> perfection. Mae West could not get photographed to save her life these days,
> and we rarely see a "buff" female -except on fitness mags
> - though both of those body types is nearer to perfection (IMO) than the
> current fad for same-same guys and girlies we see in the catalogues.

The waist/hip ratio might be one of those things that we tend to seek
supernormal signals for, while the face seems to be one we seek the
pefect average. I think those average studies showed that the face
properties were generally quite culture-invariant, and I'm ready to
bet that the body aspect is much more cultural. Madison Avenue might
be able to affect how thin we should be, but I wonder if they would
ever be able to make us enjoy asymmetrical faces?

> It seems to me what the meme is all about these days is getting a
> body that has *no characteristics that are personalized*. Photoshop
> has made this possible. The airbrush courteously removes all
> puckers, armpits, zits, compression marks, moles, body hair or any
> markings of individuality that the body may hold. Madison Avenue's
> erection is not for More Than Average, it is for "empty" of
> experience. This hothouse version of humanity has survived nothing,
> been traumatized in no way, has no injury.
> I find it mildly disturbing ...and compelling at the same time.

At the same we see an increase in people daring to personalise their
bodies through tattos, piercings and various alteration of
clothing. Could it be that many simply do not want to become
standardised and move in other directions? Instead of using the old
individuality markings (many of which represents minor imperfections
of the "ideal" working of the body) they instead create their own
completely individual markings which are only based on their own
wishes, not random nature? That would seem to be a rather
transhumanist move.

> As well:
> In the name of attractiveness, babies feet were bound, women's teeth
> blackened, labrets worn through the lips and heads flattened by various
> people who had an idea that this was TRULY beautiful! So we are always
> vulnerable to meme-takeovers... not always rational ones, though we can
> rationalize them. What makes us think the current scientific rationale for
> bland features is the more valid? ; - )

Sure, the current supermodels (or rather, last decade's supermodels)
represent just one bodily form of many that can be appreciated by
culture. What is interesting is the interplay between what people find
attractive, culture in general and the groups that feed it back to
people (in our case advertisers and other media). Usually people talk
about it as if there was just a one-way signal from the media to
people, determining what they think is beautiful, but in reality there
is also the intense feedback in the other direction. The advertisments
people like will will be effective, making the advertising people more
likely to use such appearances in the next one. Hmm, this is *exactly*
like many models of sexual selection of appearance in animals, only
this time it is selection of beauty concepts. In animals this seem to
lead to extreme, unusual and very varied appearances from species to
species (but less variation within species), in us humans it seems to
lead to - exactly the same thing.
> You ask what kind of reengineering can we do to our libidos? Better ask -
> what can we do to improve our meme immune system all around!

Definitely one of the top elements on any transhumanist to-become
list. I like to train my critical thinking by reading widely, seeing
how differently people view the world and trying to look into how well
their views fit with known reality.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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