Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ruminations on Biology and Human Attractiveness (with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick Thrown in for Good Measure)

I'm reading a book right now called The Third Chimpanzee:  The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal.  I have many pages yet to go, but I just finished the absolutely fascinating chapter on how and why we "choose our mates."

Much of what appeals to us on a physical level is unconscious.  Like tends to choose like, but not universally and not across all traits.  For instance, (strangely enough) there is a very strong correlation between the lengths of middle fingers among happily married couples, and yet the same cannot be said for comparable intelligence or similar hair color.  Apparently, that instantaneous attraction you feel when you meet someone is far more complicated and nuanced than any of us are consciously aware of...

If I were to describe to you the handful of males that I have immediately and strongly responded to in the past several years, you would likely (as most of my friends have) mock me for being all over the damned map.  But were I to show you pictures, then perhaps my selections would make a little more sense.  Maybe not a lot more sense, but enough more sense that I could show you a very specific set of physical attributes (and we're talking, like, size of forehead and length of nose here) that I, it appears, go for.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because when I was younger and stupider and more optimistic about the world, I (if you can believe it) had a crush on Jake Gyllenhaal, and by my own calculations, he fits so neatly within my predefined parameters that I was doomed before I even knew he existed.  If you've read my book (and if you haven't, what's wrong with you?! buy it, dammit!), then you may remember that I joke at the end of the first chapter that I was attracted to Jake because he looked like Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid.

But according to The Third Chimpanzee, that was actually a statement based in cold, evolutionary fact and dammit if I don't seem doomed to live out my Ariel fantasy again and again until one of them sticks.

Speaking of our Prince Eric look-alike, he's out and about in a provocative new set of pictures from the weekend, featuring his End of Watch co-star, Anna Kendrick.  Of course speculation is rampant that they are dating.  No one cares.  (Seriously, no one cares.)

But looking at this purely from a biological standpoint, Anna, in comparison to women Jake has dated in the past, is very different.  I often joke that he likes them blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and more famous than he is (eye color aside, Anna is none of the above), but there's also a consistency in general facial features, from a small nose to slightly wide-set eyes to well-established cheek bones, that Anna lacks.

Complicating matters, in an effort to make him seem infinitely more interesting than he actually is, the tabloids are pitting Jake's pictures with Anna against a set of him with Rashida Jones, also taken this weekend.  In fact, of the two, I would place Rashida as physically closer to Jake's established "ideal" than Anna is.

Considering all of this is purely speculatory and caring about Jake's love life (or lack thereof) is about as productive (and useful) as banging your head against a wall, I thought I would attempt to turn this discussion back on us, Jake's audience.  I know exactly why I went for him.  But what about you?

And before all of you go writing me to tell me that evolution has failed you because you like Jake but you also like your husband/boyfriend/current tragically-hopeless-crush-who-doesn't-know-you-exist who looks nothing like Jake, I would like to point out that subtlety is oftentimes key when it comes to attractiveness...and also that many of us "make do" with people who don't live up to our "ideals."

Studies seem to indicate that the basis for what we're attracted to later in life is established very early in our childhoods.  How might my life have been different if I'd been a Beauty and the Beast fan instead of a Little Mermaid one?  The truth is that it's entirely possible I wouldn't be here writing this right now.  And the same could be said had I been born into a family with the exact same personalities but different physical traits, for the impact of family and familiarity on our young selves cannot be overstated. 

I know people like to think Jake's "special," but it turns out that the reason you're here right now and not over at a Ryan Gosling site probably has a hell of a lot more to do with you than it does with him...


S4M985,  September 6, 2011 at 5:57 PM  

hmm very insightful Becky! When its not so early in the morning and I dont have a huge day ahead i might re-read that and make comparisons to my life. Tonight i will check the size of Marks middle finger against mine.

Anna Kendrick... hmmm

coffeecat September 6, 2011 at 6:39 PM  

Interesting! Unfortunately I don't have the brain cells right now for ruminating (or do I need a second stomach to ruminate?) but I will comment.

Rashida Jones looks suspiciously like Jake's sister, Maggie.

Previously I compared Kiki and Reese. You could add Taylor to that mix and do a "separated at birth" comparison. Anna does have the extremely pointed chin and if you make her blonde, she might fit in.

However, she's a little more bosom-y than her predecessors, and her nose gives her character. Ergo, based on looks and evolution, their relationship is doomed.

You heard it here first.

Becky Heineke September 6, 2011 at 8:16 PM  

You're both saints to even read this. :) I was SO STRUCK by that chapter when I started thinking about the people in my life I've had hopeless crushes on. It's not just physical either...that whole emotional detachment thing that Jake has going on? That also has been a steady theme in my life (lucky me). Damn you, biology!

Anyway, agreed on Taylor! And CC, I hereby honor your prediction and when Jake and Anna split up from their maybe-real/probably-made-up relationship, I will give you credit. :)

Sam, let me know about the middle finger thing!! :D

Leslie September 6, 2011 at 10:18 PM  

Well, since Anna's had a bf for quite some time and Jake is wearing a wedding band in these pics, I'd venture to say they're taken out of context and (more than likely) part of and/or related to End of Watch. (Holy crap that was a long sentence!). Rashida and Jake were in a group, they're both Jewish, and probably were just all lunching and communing. Funny that no one is questioning the woman Jake hugs inside the restaurant that is included in this set from IHJ.

As for your analysis - that was extremely interesting. Why I like Jake, or more specifically - what I am attracted to - HANDS. First and foremost - if I don't like the guys hands, nothing else matters. Yeah, it's messed up but hey . . It's my life and my taste. Jake has beautiful hands. Secondly, I like when someone smiles and their whole face lights up. He's got that down. Smaller, square forehead, check. Nice feet (I think mine are nice too so that's a barometer), check. Back of thighs have to be sexy, check. There are a lot of things about him that aren't the same at all in comparison to guys I've dated - but the ALL share those same traits.

Was this long enough?? I think I've made up for not posting in a while. ;)

Leslie September 6, 2011 at 10:20 PM  

That should've been "they all share." I'll blame my iPad for the type-o.

Phone Sex September 7, 2011 at 4:14 AM  

Your Idea book seems electrifying. I am impressed with the presentation of your belief.

Anonymous,  September 7, 2011 at 10:01 AM  

hahaha I grinned thru that whole read - great post.

May he even changed his "ideal"??? Well, time will tell.

Why Jake? Well - my first ever crush had the same "treats" as he has on the physical side plus Jake makes me laugh - and the latter is the half rent with me xD


Becky Heineke September 7, 2011 at 2:22 PM  

^^^ I definitely think your ideal can morph with time. I'd even say that if I were starting over now, I wouldn't find the Jake of today half as attractive as I used to find the Jake of yesterday (if that makes sense!). :)

Phone Sex, you are the most relentless spammer on this blog...but I KNOW you also like Jake Gyllenhaal. Just join us, baby!

Leslie, thanks for that wonderfully long comment! I'm impressed that you have such a definite grasp on what you look for; for me, much of it is still very subconscious. Also, it's really interesting that you said that about feet because the chapter started off by saying we essentially go for people who, on a very generic and basic level, look like us. So there you go... Actually, referring back to what I was saying to Sasha, Jake bulking up would be another deterrent for me starting over now. I suppose it's not a coincidence that I was into him when he was thin but not skinny, much as I am. :)

S4M985,  September 7, 2011 at 5:52 PM  

Oh I forgot to say, Jake looks nothing like Mark ;)

Lol @ "Phone Sex, you are the most relentless spammer on this blog...but I KNOW you also like Jake Gyllenhaal. Just join us, baby!"

AND i forgot to check finger sizew. I'll get onto that tonight!

Call Me Mo September 12, 2011 at 1:52 PM  

I too am impressed with the presentation of your belief. ;]

I blame Kiki for why I liked Jake to begin with. I went through this phase where I wanted to be just like her. Hence, why I developed a crush on her bf. Although, based on the speculations, maybe it didn't have much to do with her to begin with. None of my exes and crushes have looked anything like one another at first glance, but maybe if I looked closer they may have some minute similarities. You've got me thinking on a Monday. What an accomplishment! I was always an Aladdin fan myself. That could largely explain why the only guy I ever actually considered marrying, looked very similar to him. Hmm...

Sam, how'd the fingers measure up? I've always been intrigued by finger length and how researchers show you can sometimes tell a lot about people just by their hands.

Becky Heineke September 13, 2011 at 4:11 PM  

And you know, I never thought about it, but Aladdin kinda looks like Prince Eric in a way! In fact, Aladdin and the *Prince of Persia* have quite a bit in common in terms of physical features...

On my other blog, I wrote a complementary entry about why I push my male friends to drink to excess. Suddenly all of my thoughts in social situations are dominated by whether or not the people around me are bolstering these theories I'm now carrying around with me.

Anyway! Mo, if you have any more insight on your crushes/exes, let us know. :) I'm kind of freaking myself out with my consistency at this point...

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