Those Cosmo girls

“When it comes to females,” observed Sir Mix-A-Lot, “Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with my selection.”

Robert Stacy McCain goes a bit further: Cosmo ain’t got nothin’ to do with anybody’s selection. To wit:

Among his various conquests, the fellow who rides the romantic rodeo circuit will tend to have the most favorable opinion of the drop-dead beauty with the bitchin’ bod. That’s just how guys are. But the stuff that Cosmo is selling — the clothes, the shoes, the jewelry, the cosmetics — has very little impact on this evaluation. Ask any guy.

A really sexy girl is sexy even when she’s in sweats and an oversized T-shirt, shopping for groceries. And women’s near-universal embrace of the cosmetics/fashion industry is kind of like escalation in the Cold War arms race: At some point, everybody’s got enough nukes to destroy the entire planet, and the argument for additional nukes is attenuated by the problem of diminishing returns. If every girl’s made-up like a fashion model, a little extra skill in applying make-up isn’t really going to gain you any advantage.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania today, there is at least one beautiful 19-year-old Amish girl who has never worn make-up, never worked out in a gym, never read Cosmo. And that girl, in her homemade plain dress, is more truly beautiful than any of the styled-up, decked-out hotties hanging around the most fashionable nightspot in Hollywood. Like I said, ask any guy.

Well, perhaps you shouldn’t ask me: I never racked up many miles on the romantic-rodeo circuit and therefore claim no particular expertise in this matter. I have, however, been witness to a couple of incidents wherein the young lady in question decided to eschew all that stuff and was promptly quizzed by guys: “What happened to you?” They couldn’t distinguish workaday cosmetics from depleted uranium, but they could definitely detect that something was missing. Which demonstrates nothing, perhaps, except that superficiality is probably more or less evenly distributed between the sexes.

It can be argued — almost certainly will be argued — that in a competitive dating market, you need every advantage you can get. But one woman’s advantage is another woman’s drawback and might go totally unnoticed in a third; while we men are a comparatively uncomplicated bunch, we don’t all respond to exactly the same stimuli. But that only illustrates McCain’s point: someone’s going to fall hard for that young Amish lady. It’s times like these that I am (slightly) grateful for my failing vision.

And unfortunately for me, the Cosmo cover accompanying McCain’s essay contains, in large, readable print, the ghastly nonce word “va-jay-jay,” a word I can happily live without ever hearing again.


  1. fillyjonk »

    5 May 2009 · 7:36 am

    You and me both.

    I know several people who argue that the female attractiveness sweepstakes is mostly conducted for other females’ benefits…I suppose it’s not unlike male deer growing big sets of antlers, it’s an intimidation tactic.

    And frankly, it works, a lot of the time. Considering all the probably decent-looking women who can immediately point out fifteen things “wrong” with how they look.

  2. McGehee »

    5 May 2009 · 8:32 am

    All I know is, the conventional ideal of beauty has never done a lot for me. Evidence of intelligence and humor in the eyes count for a damn sight more with me than perfect cheekbones or a flawless application of makeup and designer clothes.

    Not that the cheekbones, makeup and clothes would detract from the intelligence and humor…

  3. Tatyana »

    5 May 2009 · 9:59 am

    [Men] don’t all respond to exactly the same stimuli
    That’s the key.
    Women who compete in a fashion circuit do not aim at men who’d fall for a plain barely-of-age Amish girl.

  4. Francis W. Porretto »

    5 May 2009 · 4:31 pm

    Speaking solely for myself: “sexy” equals “health plus vitality plus reciprocated interest.”

    Sometimes, appearance factors intrude. It’s hard to overlook neglect of grooming, or a serious case of overweight. But then, can you really be healthy if you’re dirty and unkempt? Can you really be vital if you’re dragging around an extra forty or fifty pounds?

    Clothing? It counts, to a degree; it’s hard to take much interest in a woman in a burq’a. Makeup? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. A great deal of makeup always suggests that the wearer is hiding something.

    A woman in good health who possesses abundant life energy can’t help but know it. It makes her confident and poised. She doesn’t succumb to the run-and-hide reaction a lot of women do when a single man lets her know he finds her attractive.

    The sine qua non, for this Curmudgeon, is a sincere, sustained interest in me. I married the last two women who thought I was handsome and witty. One of them has yet to unlearn her mistake. Watch this space!

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