A Handsome Man - What is The Attraction?
When you hear the words "handsome man", what is the image that springs to mind?
Someone like Brad Pitt perhaps? George Clooney? Some other movie star? With model looks, a
symmetrical face with strong, pleasing features, chiselled jaw, rugged? Maybe somebody who works out?
Well, handsome-ness is of course in the eye of the beholder. One man's Brad Pitt is another man's Quentin Tarantino. (Or indeed woman's). But with both sexes, there is a media ideal.
We live in a fickle age where people are judged on their looks, and the sad fact is that you're less likely to make it in Hollywood (or certain other places for that matter) if you don't meet this ideal.
And this media ideal also pervades into real-life, and influences our tastes and views of who looks good - and who does not.
Now, to be honest I've never really got that "media ideal". At school the other girls were falling in lust with popstars such as Simon Le Bon and George Michael, and movie stars like Christian Slater, Tom Cruise and Michael J. Fox, but I just didn't get it.
They were all kind of pretty boys, and I supposed that they were ok to look at, but what was the attraction beyond that? The talk about these guys just bored me, and I was sure that I was missing something.
Then the Chippendales came along. A troupe of male strippers; rugged, tanned, muscular beefy guys. My lack of interest, compared to that of my female peers who were clambering to go to see either the originals or one of their many copycat acts, made me feel positively abnormal.
And while they were hankering for dates with the popular guys with traditional good looks, I was forming friendships with the guys who had some interesting things to say for themselves. They tended to care less about their appearance, and would probably be described by some as geeky - much like myself at the time. But to me, these were the handsome guys.
One of my favourite definitions of handsome is "with a pleasing general appearance", (from MSN encarta). It doesn't talk about conforming to ideals or cultural norms.
"Pleasing" is a very subjective term, and what pleases one person will not necessarily please another. Everybody has different tastes, and with this definition in mind, anybody can be considered handsome, so long as somebody thinks it.
The world is just full of handsome guys!
In the interests of research (ahem!), I did a search on "handsome man" in Flickr Creative Commons.
I was happy to find that although the conventional beef-cake guys are (predictably) well-represented, there is a pleasingly broad range of guys labelled there as handsome. (Granted, some of them gave themselves this label, but why not?) And I think you'll agree that they all deserve to be there!
And this helps me to prove my point (which may have got a little lost on the way, in this veritable sea of men...) Handsome doesn't have to mean having conventional good looks, handsome-ness depends on one's own personal taste.
And more than this, when we meet somebody and talk to them we are able to see how they look and get to know their character, and this affects the way that we see them.
Like with the guys at my school, I thought of the geeky guys as handsome firstly because that kind of look was my preference, but also because when I looked at them what I knew about their personalities shone through.
In the same way, when I looked at the more popular guys, I probably saw in their faces a certain amount of arrogance - at having a gaggle of giggly girl admirers! - as well as any other negatives that I associated them with.
But when we just see a picture of someone without knowing them, we can only go by how closely their look matches our own personal preferences, and what, if anything, their face tells us about their character.
I have included photos of some of the Flickr men who caught my eye. (Yes, it was a tough hub to write, but somebody had to do it!)
I think they have nice faces, and I like the character that they show.
"A dialogue between a Young Man and an Old Man regarding the nature of man" (Wikipedia)
More About Handsome Men
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- Who Is the Most Handsome Man in the World? | Blogs | Vanity Fair
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- Why handsome men make bad husbands
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Some Definitions of "Handsome"
Pleasing in appearance especially by reason of conformity to ideals of form and proportion.(Wordnetweb)
Good-looking: with good-looking facial features or a pleasing general appearance. (msn encarta dictionary)
Good-looking, beautiful, attractive; gracious, pleasing.. (Babylon Dictionary)
(Of a man) good-looking. (Of a woman) striking and imposing in good looks rather than conventionally pretty. (Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English)