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The Masculinity Paradox

Feminine and clean-shaven faces are considered most attractive.

Many studies have found that more feminine and clean-shaven faces are considered most attractive.

By Barnaby Dixson

Does being “manly” make you a better mate or does it signal undesirable characteristics?

Barnaby Dixson is a postdoctoral researcher in the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of NSW.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Physical appearance matters a lot. Whether we like it or not, we make quick and lasting judgments of people based upon how they look. While a good sense of humour and kind disposition are important, judgements about the physical attractiveness of faces and bodies occurs within the first 200 milliseconds of meeting. That’s faster than the time it takes to snap your fingers.

Attractiveness goes hand-in-hand with social advantages, and can be a passport to success. Individuals less blessed with good looks can face setbacks such as lower academic grades, wages and less social attention.

Attractiveness also has a biological basis that translates into success in the mating market. In theory, good-looking people may have a better opportunity to choose higher quality mates. But does being tall, dark and handsome send signals of long-term mate quality that are favoured by women, such as parenting skills and faithfulness?

An Evolutionary Context for Men’s Masculinity

The earliest phases of human evolution might provide some clues about the origins of male masculinity. When picturing masculinity in the context of human evolution it is easy to imagine male hunter-gatherers competing furiously with one another in arid environments for large prey.

If this was the case, being taller and more muscular may have afforded men a survival advantage and...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.