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A Handsome Man - What is The Attraction?

Updated on April 12, 2014
A trio of handsome men.
A trio of handsome men. | Source
Handsome in a hat.
Handsome in a hat. | Source

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.

Truly happy smile
Truly happy smile | Source
Nice expression and beard
Nice expression and beard | Source
Friendly face
Friendly face | Source
Handsome and happy, with food.
Handsome and happy, with food. | Source
Wistful smile
Wistful smile | Source
Sweet looking guy
Sweet looking guy | Source
Interesting expression and nice face.
Interesting expression and nice face. | Source
Handsome guys.
Handsome guys. | Source

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.

What Is Man? And Other Essays
What Is Man? And Other Essays

"A dialogue between a Young Man and an Old Man regarding the nature of man" (Wikipedia)


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)


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    • gmmurgirl profile image

      Gei Moore 5 years ago from Pilipinas

      Hmmn. I love this hub. It makes me realize that I'm lucky to know a special person who is so handsome and yet so down-to-earth and wonderful at the same time.Thanks!

    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 6 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Handsome men to me are Tyson Beckford and Nickolas Cage. Although recently I realize that handsome is also not just on the outside; but handsome is also the actions of a man. Real strengths of a handsome man: kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control, humbleness, and love for O-n-e woman.

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 6 years ago from Lagos

      You ve cleverly discussed this issue to my taste. For me, beauty or handsomeness lies in the eyes of the beholder and has to do with character not just appearance. A well written piece. Kudos!

    • Ddraigcoch profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from UK

      A very in depth and interesting hub. I agree with you that Handsomeness is not to be pinned down.

      A kind soul is much more attractive than a magazine cover man with an ugly attitude.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Moon Daisy: Interesting name. I picked this hub because I hoped to learn something about myself to maybe help in my continuing quest for a woman. And I voted up across the board. First, by no stretch of the imagination do I consider myself handsome, and, sometimes, I know that "attitude" affects me. Recently, I met a very "nice" and attractive woman, especially "nice." She has to be "nice." It was hard for me to believe that she could be so attractive and also be "so" "nice." So here we were, talking, and I can feel my--what? Confidence? slipping away, until my mind goes completely blank. I mean, what could this very attractive woman possibly see in me? So I let her get away, having learned nothing about her but her first name. So, now, wherever I go, I look for her, I'd like another chance with her, even though my confidence is still rock-bottom.

      Also, thank you for the follow.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 6 years ago from London

      Thanks for all your interesting and kind comments. It's not so simple as being "typically handsome", and I'm glad that I'm not the only one who thinks this. :)

      Oh, and jez_jay33, don't worry, I'm sure lots of people would also consider you one of the handsome ones!

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Thanks for the pictures.

      Some of them look "Dishy", and all of them look interesting.

      Oh! Thanks also for the interesting article

    • Darren Koobs profile image

      Darren Koobs 6 years ago

      Interesting read. I do subscribe to "eye of the beholder" and have written on the media's obsession with certain stereotypes on another web site; it pretty much follows your own line of thinking. It's nice to see someone on the same soapbox :)

    • JakeMcMurphy profile image

      JakeMcMurphy 7 years ago from Chicago

      What really makes someone handsome? Bone structure? Confidence? Attitude? It really is in the eye of the beholder (although I think Confidence is a VERY important part of the equation).

    • trish1048 profile image

      trish1048 7 years ago

      I totally agree with E M Smith. I know a man who, by handsome standards, is not. To me, hthe man I know is the epitome of handsome. A pleasing face, tall, dark brown eyes, a dimple and a smile to knock your socks off :)

      Not to mention a very engaging personality to match.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • E M Smith profile image

      E M Smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Once a guy's personality shines through he can seem more good looking

    • jez_jay33 profile image

      jez_jay33 7 years ago from Los Banos Laguna

      i got really interested because i want to know if i am one of the handsome men...turns out that the answer is harder to find...hahaha...great hub!

    • dawnM profile image

      Dawn Michael 7 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

      well, who can resist to look at a handsome man, but if he has no sense of humor and is not kind who cares how he looks. That's just my great hub

    • jennshealthstore profile image

      Jenn 7 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub. When I was younger, I must admit I had the posters on my wall of all the "handsome" starts, but as I got older, I realized that when you like a person, their beauty or handsomeness grows more and more.

    • Moon Daisy profile image

      Moon Daisy 7 years ago from London

      Thanks for your comment Lady_E! Yes, arrogance is a real turn-off isn't it? Character is definitely the most important thing.

      Glad you enjoyed the photos!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 7 years ago from London, UK

      Interesting Hub - I agree "handsome-ness depends on one's own personal taste." I personally look beyond the handsome face or six pack and totally dislike a man who thinks he looks handsome and is Gods gift to women.

      The Character of a man is what will endear me to him.

      I enjoyed reading your Hub and like the photos. :)