Hot vs. beautiful, or: Sex vs. aesthetics

Chris Cathcart's picture
Submitted by Chris Cathcart on Mon, 2006-05-29 05:30

If I may pose this as a valid distinction rather than a false dichotomy, I was just looking at the Thrust thread about Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johannson on the cover, and came to the sudden realization that while all of Keira's physical features may not come out to a "10" (she is very much on the, um, "slender" side, very Ally McBeal-like), in terms of pure aesthetics her face is about as beautiful as they come amongst celebrities. Angelina Jolie, OTOH, would fall into the "hot" category; her face and her entire physicality are more openly inviting to sex. (Another sudden realization, see.) So where am I going with this? I haven't the faintest. Other than, it seems that there are women who can invite more of a pure aesthetic response, and others who invite the boner response.

BTW, back in the day, if you took away the boob job and the otherwise amazing body, I'd still have regarded Pamela Anderson as having a very beautiful face. Just check out her first centerfold. It might well be that face that closes the beauty-sex false dichotomy, too.

Actually, there is something of aesthetic relevance I'd like to see discussed. The guys here could tread the all-too-familiar ground of who the "hottest, most bangable chicks" are. But as an aesthete, I'm interested in hearing other examples named of most beautiful faces. Heck, you guys could even gay it up some and try to identify objectively beautiful male faces as an aesthetic exercise, if you don't want to leave it to the gals. (For some reason I have a difficult time coming up with good examples for this.) BTW, I was thinking recently about what Hollywood actress could possibly look the part of Dominique in a Fountainhead film, and I just have this vision of her in my mind as so impossibly beautiful that I can't think of an actress both skilled enough and beautiful enough to play the role right. Dagny, on the other hand, I could see being played by a Helen Hunt or younger Meryl Streep or something in that range.

As for that "other" genre of movie . . . I think that Janine Lindemulder may be the most beautiful woman in a genre whose aim in terms of physical features is so heavily skewed towards sex appeal, beauty being incidental. (Boob jobs are typically such a distraction that I think they typically detract in both senses. Hers didn't really distract -- indeed, quite well-integrated to aesthetic form. Who it is, though, that goes for the massive and malproportioned job that you see with someone like Briana Banks, I don't know. Speaking of Briana, what if we apply aesthetic standards to that, ahem, lower region . . .)

Other questions:
Is the human sexual psyche hard-wired to respond to objective beauty? How is it, in terms of evolution and survival, are humans hard-wired to respond to beautiful music?

( categories: )

It's mostly about

AShortt's picture

It's mostly about symmetry/balance/proportion. The less thats wrong, the better the chance that things are right (primative estimation of genetic predispositions). Then there is natural expression and how it reacts with your memories/preferences...kinks ;n)

Andrew Shortt

Ontario, Canada

"In my twenties I once or

Leonid's picture

"In my twenties I once or twice had wet dreams about Ayn Rand, and masturbated to Tchaikovsky's 4th. Speaking about aesthetics and sex!!!???"

And what is wrong about it? Aesthetics are actualy part of metaethics, they represent valuation according to one's sense of life. Your experience simply proves that you have very healthy sense of life which also clear from your art.

Aesthetics and Sex

Newberry's picture

In my twenties I once or twice had wet dreams about Ayn Rand, and masturbated to Tchaikovsky's 4th. Speaking about aesthetics and sex!!!???

The problem with model thin people and models.

atlascott's picture

They do not look like they can DO anything. Maybe run a marathon with their emaciated bodies. But are usually kept artificially thin as a pure matter of esthetics.

I like bodies that look like they can DO something.

Scott DeSalvo
FREE Injury Report and CD Reveal the Secrets You Need to Know to Protect Your RIGHTS!

Who is...

Marnee's picture

Well, since it's *obviously*

Ross Elliot's picture

Well, since it's *obviously* fantasy time...

...Kate's my girl.

Hubba hubba!

At the SAG Awards

Now, here she is with a man who's obviously past
the first flush of youth, greying and less than lithe,
but she's happy. There's hope for me!

"A pretty boy with no

atlascott's picture

"A pretty boy with no "presence" is just...bland."

I coined the term "sweater and a haircut" years ago to describe really, really pretty men who have nothing to say.  As in, they can get ANY woman in ANY bar to talk to them.  But once the conversation starts, they're just a sweater and a haircut. 

Everyone has a range of what they find attractive.  Some of us, bless us, have a wide range.  Others, not so much--a narrowly-defined idea of what is hot or attractive.  But attitude and personality ultimately make or break the deal for me.  Batshit crazy=not good.

further, further note

Wes's picture

...and I was, strangely enough, kind of dissapointed when she decided to go straight (in her movies).

Please, just give me a women

Banned User's picture

Please, just give me a women who is attractive--to me (now that could be subjective). Need not be drop-dead, but must have passion and brains. Easy to talk to. Now that's hot! What else could an Objectivst guy ask for? Hmmm, I should run this in the personal ads Wink

Did I say she must have passion and brains?

Hot vs. Not

Prima Donna's picture

I also wanted to add that for me, "hot" is a vibe that emanates from a person's attitude. I've met men who might not be conventionally hot based on looks alone, but there is a vibe they give off -- perhaps it is a way of standing, or another projection of confidence -- that is breathtakingly sexy. A pretty boy with no "presence" is just...bland.

-- The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Lance, I completely agree

PhilipC's picture

Lance, I completely agree with you about both the imperturbably wooden Ms. Jolie and Keira Knightley.

In "Pride and Prejudice"...KK would be more in the Suzy Amis category. She's a touch too young for my taste; let's see if she retains her spirit in five years. A lot of women lose that (men do also) or let themselves have it beaten out of them. It's amazing how often it shows on the face. One woman I knew in college freshman year....welll, that's another story and not for a public audience....

I don't have much of a

PhilipC's picture

I don't have much of a hot/beautiful dichotomy. Usually the women I find beautiful are the ones I'd find hot. As far as a beautiful face is concerned, one that comes to mind is a woman from the movie Titanic. And it's not Kate Winslet, whom I find neither hot nor beautiful, but a little known actress, Suzy Amis. She played Rose's adult daughter who appears very briefly in the start and end of the movie. Her face is sort of classically beautiful in a way that presents a sort of idealistic happy radiance and serenity. When a face is beautiful beyond just good symmetry (an absurdly trivial issue), it's lit from within and projects a certain combination of virtues, notably in a woman: idealism, happiness, and openness. (Bitterness is one short cut to spiritual and physical ugliness that no beauty spas can hide. By the way, I never agreed with Ayn Rand's view that the most hard-faced jurors - depending on what she meant by hard - would have been the most sympathetic to Roark, or was it Rearden?...that's a case where she was unperceptive psychologically.)

Sort of weird to find the right adjectives that a Suzy Amis type face exemplifies..and she may not be the perfect example but is the one I come up with immediately. But she's definitely an example of the -opposite- of the slutty Hollywood blonde: Paris Hilton/Britanny Spears are two examples of a slutty-appearing Hollywood blonde, one with no standards and no self-respect. And it shows on her face-the self-loathing. Less extreme than self-loathing, a slutty face could be a hardened, wooden, or unemotional one. A coarseness or giving up on a certain level of the soul. (That's basically the hidden reason why youthful faces are attractive--they still are searching, yearning, haven't resigned themselves and "packed it in".) The face that many prostitutes earn over years would be an extreme example of the defaulting on this- they've suppressed the better parts of their soul...and it shows on their faces. The thing I wouldn't want to share is not something carried in bodily fluids and wouldn't be viral.

And, yes, I would kick either PH or BS out of bed.


Lanza Morio's picture

I wouldn't go on a date with Angelina Jolie. Bless her heart I'm sure she's very nice Smiling but I don't find her at all attractive. Kiera Knightley on the other hand is a real beauty. The face of an angel. But: is she a flexible giver? Smiling

As for the theme of the thread there's no dichotomy here unless you create one. There are multitudes of sexy women out there but her being sexy says nothing about whether she is good for your life (Though it's a start!).


Prima Donna's picture

Richard, given the studies that have proven our responses to symmetry in the human face, I think that to some degree we are hard-wired for beauty recognition. However, there are times when we might find beauty in a unique combination of features (Angelina Jolie's face comes to mind).

As for men, my personal preference is usually related to full lips and strong features, for whatever reason. Though I've not seen the show, Wentworth Miller of the new FOX series "Prison Break" is one of the most heart-breakingly lickable men I've ever seen: Just seeing a preview of the show makes my heart race.

Orlando Bloom is also beautiful, but in that Johnny Depp kind of way -- too pretty to think of in a romantic way, but wonderful to look at. I think Tom Cruise has little aesthetic appeal, and given that he's batshit crazy, it kills what appeal he did have (the "Top Gun" volleyball scene of course comes to mind).

I can't think of others at the moment, but I'm happy to ruminate while I'm by the pool today. Ah, the joys of downtime. Smiling

-- The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

I don't know if we are. What

Richard Wiig's picture

I don't know if we are. What about those who can't/don't recognise beauty? I think it takes a conscious awareness to recognise beauty, and many are just not that consciously aware - or maybe I am just cynical. If we were "hard wired for beauty recognition" then it - beauty recognition - would be an effortless, unthinking thing.

Beauty is...

Peter Cresswell's picture

Perhaps I can resolve the dichotomy upon whose horns you seem to be, ahem, impaled, with Stendhal's definition of beauty, perhaps the most useful 'working definition' of the word:

"Beauty is the promise of happiness."

I believe that untangles your conundrum. Smiling

You betcha we're hardwired

Ross Elliot's picture

You betcha we're hardwired for beauty recognition. And I don't need to go into ruby-red lips and inflamed vulvas to get the point across...

But, no matter how tasty the chick, if she whispers hotly in your ear that all capitalists should die, then most objectivist men wouldn't fly the flag no matter how hard she blew.

You see, beauty *is* more than skin deep Wink

Jared Leto and Ryan Phillipe

Chris Cathcart's picture

They strike me as having much aesthetic merit. I can't really "get" what's so hot about Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt. But then, it's the likes of Leto and Phillipe that seem like the ones that gay men would find especially attractive, which weirds me out. Maybe it's that gay men are tapped into a certain aesthetic wavelength, one more highly responsive on average to the beautiful? (Wasn't Michelangelo gay, along with many other famed artists?)

Death in Venice, anyone? Smiling

My personal favorites on the

Landon Erp's picture

My personal favorites on the "hot" end of the spectrum in the "other" genre at the moment are probably Aurora Snow and Asia Carerra. Their bodies have strong lines to them lots of smoothness, as well as very interesting "lower reigions" and faces that sometimes look their best in intense contortions or with a big smile.

I guess that's the first thing I look for when judging a woman's appearance, strong lines/planes. The curves ultimatly factor in, but I tend to get more drawn in by a strong line in the leg or an intense plane in the stomach or back, or the area from the bottom of the chin to the breasts (this is my favorite part of my fiancee as an aside).

But I think one of the main factors in the hot vs beautiful debate comes in the form of geometric perfection or highly controlled chaos.
Initial thoughts at least.


Inking is sexy.

further note about Janine L.

Chris Cathcart's picture

I should mean the younger Janine. The older Janine went and got some huge ghastly tattoos, and the boob job has started to sag out of shape.

Interesting post

Landon Erp's picture

I'm having a hard time trying to think of examples in different categories.

I guess I'll come back if I think of something better later but just wanted you to know you started the wheels turning.


Inking is sexy.

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