Tom Purcell, 6/4/2007 [Archive]

The Ugly Truth

The Ugly Truth

By Tom Purcell

Some people can get awfully ugly about beauty.

Three Australian fellows, as a ruse, set up, a dating Web site only for beautiful people. Every day, members of the site vote to determine which applicants are beautiful enough to become new members.

Got nerdy glasses, a balding noggin or a nose that is bent or out of proportion? How about off-white teeth, large ears or too many freckles? Congratulations, you've violated the beauty rules and you will be rejected.

You'll be rejected, the creators of the site argue, because of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Through natural selection, Darwin said, the stronger, smarter and healthier organisms thrive and reproduce, whereas the weaker organisms are eliminated. Succeeding generations, then, inherit the more favorable traits, thus perpetuating the species.

But is physical beauty really a sign of improved strength, smarts and health? Not according to a recent article in The Sun. The paper recently reported on stunning women who prefer homely men.

These women find "rippling muscles and chiseled good looks a complete turn-off." They say that pretty-boy fellows are dull and self-absorbed, whereas homely fellows work hard at treating them like princesses.

Researchers at Newcastle University in England say there is a genetic reason beautiful women are drawn to such fellows: It's a way of repairing the gene pool. The idea is that the classically beautiful man lacks the durability of his uglier counterpart. His genes, and his ability to fight disease, are not as strong as they are in homely fellows.

Possibly because homely fellows have less chemical hair goop seeping into their skulls?

According to Diane Felmee, a sociologist, only a third of British women said looks were the first thing that attracted them to a man. Most are drawn to a man with a sense of humor or financial and career success.

How about that. What is old is new again.

Years ago, before the feminist movement kicked into high gear, women had few career options. They were expected to marry and have children. They measured their success by their husbands'.

It was the golden era for men. Women were forced to consort with boring men of high moral character. Even a short, chubby, bald guy could land an attractive wife so long as he had a CPA.

But then the world changed. As women thrived in the workplace, they no longer needed men to support them. They were able to get picky. They decided to do to men what we had been doing to them: measure us by our looks.

They decided they wanted us to be pretty boys and, boy, did we deliver. They decided they wanted us to get in touch with our feelings and, boy, did we become sensitive, emotional and self-absorbed.

Pretty soon, men were spending more time shopping at the mall and getting their hair primped than women ever did. Pretty soon, our magazines had the look and feel of women's magazines. The headlines in Men's Health became indistinguishable from Cosmo's.

Pretty soon, the state of men and women was more confused than it had ever been. As men got softer and more like women, women got harder and more like men -- and everybody was confused and unhappy.

But in London, at least, some women have had enough. They looked their sensitive, new-age males in the eyes and saw something they didn't like: themselves.

They decided to turn back to what is opposite of them: Homely fellows who are confident, witty and self-assured. Sure, they have balding noggins and rough-looking mugs, but their authenticity makes them compelling.

So while much of the world thinks it's progressive -- while so many superficial folks think humans can rewrite the way we are genetically wired -- some folks in London are on to something.

They have rediscovered a simple truth -- that opposites attract. That only when men and women celebrate their "oppositeness" and uniqueness will sparks fly.

They've rediscovered something else, too: Physical beauty really is only skin deep.

Tom Purcell is a humor columnist nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons. For comments to Tom, please email him at

RESTRICTIONS: 'Tom Purcell's column may not be reprinted in general circulation print media in Pennsylvania's Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, and Westmoreland Counties. It may appear only in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and its sister publications."

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