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Subjects identified the left-hand image as a woman and the right-hand one as a man. Yet the two images differ only in skin tone. Study by Richard Russell, Sinha Laboratory for Vision Research, MIT.

 

Skin color differs by sex: women are fairer and men browner and ruddier. Women also exhibit a greater contrast in luminosity between their facial skin and their lip and eye areas. These differences arise from differing concentrations of three skin pigments: melanin (brown); hemoglobin (red); and carotene (yellow). The cause is ultimately hormonal, as shown by studies on castrated and ovariectomized adults, on boys and girls during puberty, and on digit ratios (Edwards and Duntley, 1939; Edwards and Duntley, 1949; Edwards et al., 1941; Frost, 2010; Kalla and Tiwari, 1970; Manning et al., 2004; Mesa, 1983; Omoto,1965; Porcheron et al., 2013). Women are fairer than men in all human populations. The difference is greatest in people of medium color and least in very dark- or very fair-skinned people, apparently because of “floor” or “ceiling” effects (Frost, 2007).

This sex difference is used by the human mind for sex recognition. In fact, it’s more important for this purpose than other visual cues, like face shape. When subjects are shown an image of a human face, they can tell whether it is male or female even if blurred and differing only in hue and luminosity. Hue provides a “fast channel” for sex recognition. If the facial image is too far away or the lighting too dim, the mind switches to the “slow channel” and relies on luminosity (Bruce and Langton, 1994; Dupuis-Roy et al., 2009; Frost, 2011; Hill et al., 1995; Russell and Sinha, 2007; Russell et al., 2006; Tarr et al., 2001; Tarr et al., 2002).

Age differences

Skin color also differs by age. It can be used to distinguish younger from older women, since the contrast in luminosity between facial skin and the lip/eye areas decreases with age (Porcheron et al., 2013). It can also be used to recognize infants. All humans are born with very little melanin, and the resulting pinkish-white skin is often remarked upon in different cultures.

This is especially so where adults are normally dark-skinned, in striking contrast to newborns. In Kenya, the latter are often called mzungu (‘European’ in Swahili), and a new mother may ask her neighbors to come and see her mzungu (Walentowitz, 2008). Among the Tuareg, children are said to be whitened by the freshness and moisture of the womb (Walentowitz, 2008). The situation in other African peoples is summarized by a French anthropologist: “There is a rather widespread concept in Black Africa, according to which human beings, before ‘coming’ into this world, dwell in heaven, where they are white. For, heaven itself is white and all the beings dwelling there are also white. Therefore the whiter a child is at birth, the more splendid it is” (Zahan, 1974, p. 385). A Belgian anthropologist makes the same point: “black is thus the color of maturity [...] White on the other hand is a sign of the before-life and the after-life: the African newborn is light-skinned and the color of mourning is white kaolin” (Maertens, 1978, p. 41).

This infant/adult difference is evolutionarily old, being present in nonhuman primates. In langurs, baboons, and macaques, the newborn’s skin is pink while the adult’s is black. This visual cue not only helps adults to locate a wayward infant but also seems to induce a desire to defend and provide care (Jay, 1962). Humans may respond similarly to the lighter color of infants and women. This would be consistent with a tendency by the adult female body to mimic the newborn body in other ways: face shape; pitch of voice; amount of body hair; texture and pliability of the skin; etc. Over time, women may have come to resemble this ‘infant schema’ because it is the one that can best reduce aggressiveness in a male partner and induce him to assume a provider role.

The sun-tanning fad: An aesthetic revolution

The sex-specific aspects of skin color have influenced the development of cosmetics in many cultures. Even in ancient times, women would use makeup to increase the natural contrast in luminosity between their facial skin and their lip/eye areas (Russell, 2009; Russell, 2010). They would also make their naturally fair complexion even fairer by avoiding the sun and applying white powders or bleaching agents.

This feminine aesthetic changed radically in the 1920s with the sudden popularity of sun-tanning throughout the Western world, initially as a health fad. Tanned skin then entered women’s fashion and became part of the flapper image, along with bobbed hair, broad shoulders, a relatively flat chest, narrow hips, and long legs. This fashion image was intended to be hermaphroditic, the aim being to energize the erotic appeal of the female body by masculinizing some of its key features (Bard, 1998; Segrave, 2005).

Has the tanning fad un-gendered skin color? Not wholly, to judge by the above studies on sex recognition. There still seems to be a tendency to prefer a lighter skin tone for women than for men. This was the conclusion of a recent study on how people perceive two skin pigments: melanin (brown) and carotene (yellow). When shown facial images with varying concentrations of melanin and carotene, the subjects had a greater preference for carotene than for melanin. This preference was stronger for female faces than for male faces, irrespective of the observer’s sex. Nonetheless, for both male and female faces, the preferred skin color was much darker than it would have been a century ago (Lefevre and Perrett, 2014).

Again, this aesthetic norm has darkened only in the Western world. The tanned look had some popularity among Japanese women in the postwar era up to the 1970s, but it has since gone out of fashion (Ashikari, 2005). It never did catch on elsewhere in Asia (Li et al., 2008). In North America and Europe, the tanned look seems much more persistent, and this persistence suggests that it is locked into place by something else in our cultural environment.

Such as …? One factor may be the conscious effort to promote images of dark-skinned people in advertising and, more generally, in popular culture. Another factor may be a half-conscious desire in popular culture for more aggressive, “harder” forms of eroticism. This is something that fair skin is less effective at delivering, having been originally part of the infant schema and thus less conducive to that kind of emotional response.

References

Ashikari, M. (2005). Cultivating Japanese whiteness. The ‘whitening’ cosmetics boom and the Japanese identity, Journal of Material Culture, 10, 73-91.

Bard, C. (1998). Les Garçonnes. Modes et fantasmes des Années folles, Flammarion, Paris.

Bruce, V., and S. Langton. (1994). The use of pigmentation and shading information in recognising the sex and identities of faces,Perception, 23(7), 803-822.

Dupuis-Roy, N., I. Fortin, D. Fiset, and F. Gosselin. (2009). Uncovering gender discrimination cues in a realistic setting, Journal of Vision, 9(2), 10, 1-8.
http://journalofvision.org/9/2/10/

Edwards, E.A. and S.Q. Duntley. (1949). Cutaneous vascular changes in women in reference to the menstrual cycle and ovariectomy,American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 57, 501-509.

Edwards, E.A. and S.Q. Duntley. (1939).The pigments and color of living human skin, American Journal of Anatomy, 65, 1-33.

Edwards, E.A., J.B. Hamilton, S.Q. Duntley, and G. Hubert. (1941). Cutaneous vascular and pigmentary changes in castrate and eunuchoid men, Endocrinology, 28, 119-128.

Frost, P. (2011). Hue and luminosity of human skin: a visual cue for gender recognition and other mental tasks, Human Ethology Bulletin,
/pfrost/hue-and-luminosity-of-human-skin-a-visual-cue-for-gender-recognition-and-other-mental-tasks/

Frost, P. (2010). Femmes claires, hommes foncés. Les racines oubliées du colorisme, Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval, 202 p.

Frost, P. (2007). Comment on Human skin-color sexual dimorphism: A test of the sexual selection hypothesis, American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 133, 779-781.

Hill, H., Bruce, V., and S. Akamatsu. (1995). Perceiving the sex and race of faces: The role of shape and colour, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 261, 367-373.

Jay, P.C. (1962). Aspects of maternal behavior among langurs, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 102, 468-476.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1962.tb13653.x/abstract

Kalla, A.K. and S.C. Tiwari. (1970). Sex differences in skin colour in man, Acta Geneticae Medicae et Gemellologiae, 19, 472-476.

Lefevre, C.E. and D.I. Perrrett. (2014). Fruit over sunbed: Carotenoid skin colouration is found more attractive than melanin colouration, The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17470218.2014.944194#tabModulehttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17470218.2014.944194#tabModule

Li, E.P.H., H.J. Min, R.W. Belk, J. Kimura, and S. Bahl. (2008). Skin lightening and beauty in four Asian cultures, Advances in Consumer Research, 35, 444-449.
http://www.acrwebsite.org/volumes/v35/naacr_vol35_273.pdf

Maertens, J-T. (1978). Le dessein sur la peau. Essai d’anthropologie des inscriptions tégumentaires, Ritologiques I, Paris: Aubier Montaigne.

Manning, J.T., P.E. Bundred, and F.M. Mather. (2004). Second to fourth digit ratio, sexual selection, and skin colour, Evolution and Human Behavior, 25, 38-50.
http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(03)00082-5/abstract

Mesa, M.S. (1983). Analyse de la variabilité de la pigmentation de la peau durant la croissance, Bulletin et mémoires de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, t. 10 series 13, 49-60.
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/bmsap_0037-8984_1983_num_10_1_3882

Omoto, K. (1965). Measurements of skin reflectance in a Japanese twin sample, Journal of the Anthropological Society of Nippon(Jinruigaku Zassi), 73, 115-122.
http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/130003726811/http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/130003726811/

Porcheron, A., E. Mauger, and R. Russell (2013). Aspects of facial contrast decrease with age and are cues for age perception, PLoS ONE 8(3): e57985
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0057985

Russell, R. (2010). Why cosmetics work. In R. Adams, N. Ambady, K. Nakayama, and S. Shimojo. (eds.) The Science of Social Vision, New York: Oxford.
http://public.gettysburg.edu/~rrussell/Russell_SocialVision_cosmetics_chapter.pdf

Russell, R. (2009). A sex difference in facial contrast and its exaggeration by cosmetics, Perception, 38, 1211-1219
http://public.gettysburg.edu/~rrussell/Russell_2009.pdf

Russell, R. (2003). Sex, beauty, and the relative luminance of facial features, Perception, 32, 1093-1107.

Russell, R. and P. Sinha. (2007). Real-world face recognition: The importance of surface reflectance properties, Perception, 36, 1368-1374.

Russell, R., P. Sinha, I. Biederman, and M. Nederhouser. (2006). Is pigmentation important for face recognition? Evidence from contrast negation, Perception, 35, 749-759.

Segrave, K. (2005). Suntanning in 20th Century America, Jefferson (North Carolina), McFarland & Co.

Tarr, M. J., Kersten, D., Cheng, Y., and Rossion, B. (2001). It’s Pat! Sexing faces using only red and green, Journal of Vision, 1(3), 337, 337a
http://journalofvision.org/1/3/337/

Walentowitz, S. (2008). Des êtres à peaufiner. Variations de la coloration et de la pigmentation du nouveau-né, in J-P. Albert, B. Andrieu, P. Blanchard, G. Boëtsch, and D. Chevé (eds.), Coloris Corpus, (pp. 113-120), Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2008.

Zahan, D. (1974). White, Red and Black: Colour Symbolism in Black Africa, in A. Portmann and R. Ritsema (eds.) The Realms of Colour, Eranos 41 (1972), 365-395, Leiden: Eranos.

(Republished from Evo and Proud by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Tanning for women may be questionable and recent, but men in white societies have historically been expected to be tan if they were upper class. It was a sign that you spent time outdoors hunting, in athletics, or in military enterprise. Greeks saw a man with untanned skin as one who spent all his time indoors with women, i.e., effeminate, or a slave who had to spend all day in labor (often indoors). This is explicit in many passages, including in Plato’s Republic. Ancient Egyptians had a similar convention in how they represented the Pharaoh, nobles, etc., vs. the women. Similarly in recent times having tan skin for a man meant you are someone who spends his time as a sportsman, yachting, etc., that you were upper class.

    There is an opposite claim made by the middle and lower middle classes who don’t know about this very long historical trend. Insecure about their social position, and wary lest they should be confused with the lower classes that labored in agriculture, the merchant middle and lower middle class in the Near East, southeast Asia, and parts of Europe as well, assiduously avoided (and avoid) tanning. But from an aristocratic point of view the males of these classes are unmanly.

    America’s racial politics has made tanning begin to go out of favor among whites for reasons hinted at in this post.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  2. Dutch Boy says:

    I thought both photos were of indeterminate sex.

  3. Lot says:

    Women tan because in the short term, it makes them look more vigorous and less fat. I look better myself with a moderate tan or a mild sunburn. Pale skin is associated with sickly people.

  4. Lot says:

    America’s racial politics has made tanning begin to go out of favor among whites

    I think it is mostly because of skin cancer risk. At a certain point, an obvious tan shows ignorance of basic good health and invokes Jersey Shore stereotypes.

    I guess at the margin a naturally dark white woman in a heavily Mexican area might want to avoid tanning to avoid looking poor.

    When we evolved, skin cancer was a very minor cause of death, but infection indicated by pallor or jaundice was a real concern, so it makes plenty of sense that a tan looks healthy.

    A tan also indicates one can engage in outdoor activities without getting a severe sunburn, so conveys physical vigor.

  5. Simon says:

    Yes… I thought of Ovid and The Art of Love, where he provides tips for dating and grooming.

    “Neatness pleases, a body tanned from exercise: a well fitting and spotless toga’s good…”

  6. Sean says:

    Discovery that a melanocortin regulates sexual functions in male and female humans.

    “One factor may be the conscious effort to promote images of dark-skinned people in advertising and, more generally, in popular culture.”

    Who Stole all the Black Women from Britain?

    It’s eroticism.

  7. whorefinder says: • Website

    I really don’t think the tanning”fad” began in the 1920s; I think it gradually grew as the Industrial Revolution spread in the 19th Century. The 1920s saw a boom in it because of the economic boom which gave many more women the money to go tanning.

    Previously, a woman’s social status could be judged by her skin color in comparison to other women of her ethnic group. The lighter a woman’s skin, the higher status she was, because light skin meant she did not have to toil in the sun/outside as did poorer women. She could afford to be dainty and light because servants did the work for her.

    Then the industrial revolution gradually created jobs for women that allowed them to spend a majority of time indoors: the old tenament jobs, such as garment-making. Increased specialization meant man more families moved off of farms and into non-farming jobs and homes. This meant that a lot more women of the lower classes developed the exact same light skin of the rich in her ethnic group.

    SO rich women, seeking to show their status via skin color, went the opposite direction: now a tan showed how wealthy you were. This is because to go tanning meant you spent time outside at the beach, rather than indoors working.

    The post WW1 boom meant a lot more females of the middle class could afford to vacation and get the tans previously only the rich had. Coco Chanel, a canny marketer, realized this and promoted the idea of tanning as a fashionable trait to her middle class customers….that, quell suprise, went very well with her fashion line.

    In short, tanning is an intra-female ethnic group status symbol.

  8. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:

    Serena Williams is as dark as can be, but she looks male to many people.

    • Replies: @Wally
    , @e
  9. Fred Reed says:

    The face shown seems carefully chosen to be sex-neutral except for shading. If it were Clint Eastwood’s face, would the results be the same? I do not doubt Mr. Frost’s rresults, but wonder whether the other clues sould not override pallor.

    • Replies: @Epaminondas
  10. Sean says:

    Gender/face recognition: hue and luminosity “This sexual dimorphism reflects differences in both constitutive pigmentation (untanned skin) and facultative pigmentation (tanning capacity). In comparison to women, men have higher concentrations of melanin and hemoglobin in their skin and lower concentrations of carotene.”

    The golden slightly orangey carotene hue rather that the brown of melanin seem to be what a lot of European women are trying for. East Asian women’s skin is naturally a more carotene tinged colour. Could that explain why East Asian women have abandoned tanning, and why they seem to be highly rated for attractiveness in cross cultural comparisons?

  11. DavidB says:

    I don’t know about other countries, but in Britain it is difficult to get a strong natural tan. There just isn’t enough sunshine. Until the 1960s (at least) the only people who could reliably get a good tan were the minority who could afford foreign holidays. But with rising incomes and cheaper foreign holidays the common people could afford to get a tan – not to mention the recent prevalence of tanning salons and spray tans. The inevitable result is that a heavy tan is now considered a marker of lower social class, only fit for plebs and nouveaux riches like the amusingly-named Posh Spice (now Victoria Beckham).

    Also, there is a sizeable minority of people in Britain, and still more in Ireland, who are genetically incapable of getting a strong tan. If they manage to persevere through the boiled-lobster stage, they may get a mild tan, but it soon fades. Oddly, the same doesn’t appear to be true of other Northern European countries. Scandinavians, even if they have the stereotypical blond hair and blue eyes, seem to tan well. Maybe this is because they have reliable strong sunlight in the summer.

  12. Larry says:

    TANNING IS UNHEALTHY, MAKES SKIN DARK, WRINKLED, RUBBERY AND CAUSES SKIN CANCER.

    Thanks for the interesting article. There is a myth among whites, esp. white women, that you look pale and tanning makes you look healthy.

    This is a myth promoted by the liberal media and multi-culti Hollywood.

    Many white women look pale because they probably have anemia, which is common among white women, as they lose blood and iron every month. Childbearing adds to this problem. Anemia makes the skin look pale; without anemia, the white skin would have a ruddy reddish look.

    So instead of getting their hemoglobin checked and treating their anemia, they self-medicate by covering up their anemia paleness by tanning the skin. It is like putting mud on a worn piece of furniture to cover up the wear instead of getting it repaired.

    Tanning does NOT make one look healthy. That is a myth. It damages the skin, causes wrinkles, moles, nevi, and skin cancer. It makes the skin thicker, doughy/rubbery and wrinkled. The skin ages sooner. You look older by tanning.

    See the results of sun damaged skin here:

    http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/ss/slideshow-sun-damaged-skin

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  13. This might explain in part the well known pattern interracial sexual attractivity.
    I had another thought: maybe the differences of sexual attractivity of the races influence the judgement of different skins tones. For example people associate black skin with rather masculine body shapes, deep voices etc. because being black is mostly associated with westafrican ancestry in western countries.
    But as the pattern of sexual preferences for different skin tones seem to predate the time when the different races first got in contact and even the emergence of different races this is probably not true.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  14. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Those are not real faces. In real life blond men have – on average – a lot more “masculine” and rougher features than dark haired people, so this study does not mean anything at all.

  15. Priss Factor [AKA "Andrea Ostrov Letania"] says:
    @Erik Sieven

    “This might explain in part the well known pattern interracial sexual attractivity.”

    Not really. Arab men, Hindu men, and Burmese men are darker, but I don’t see any attraction to those men in the West.
    White women get excited over black men because of muscle, thicker voice, and bigger dongs. And musical funkery.

  16. Priss Factor [AKA "dna turtles"] says:
    @Larry

    “TANNING IS UNHEALTHY, MAKES SKIN DARK, WRINKLED, RUBBERY AND CAUSES SKIN CANCER.”

    It really depends. Some people tan easily and well. Good for them.

    But some white folks only get burnt. They should stay out of the sun.

    • Replies: @Stealth
  17. Wally says:
    @Priss Factor

    “Serena Williams is as dark as can be, but she looks male to many people.”

    Williams is not a male?

  18. Stealth says:
    @Priss Factor

    A lot of the ones who do tan should stay out of the sun, also. A good rule of thumb is that if the exposed areas of your skin become “pale” when you don’t have a tan, you should avoid exposure. Others, who are always at least a little brown regardless of what time of year it is, are probably safe from both cancer and wrinkles.

  19. Given that Obama’s first act was to tax tanning salons I doubt that being tan is pushed by multiculti Hollywood or anything of the sort. As I said, the prejudice against flabby pale skin on men goes back to ancient Greece, who saw this as a sign that you spent all day indoors with women and children and were therefore unmanly, or that you were a laborer or slave. Being tan meant you spent time outdoors, in the gymnasium, hunting, or in military exercise, and was the mark of a dynamic aristo.

    Those whites of Irish background who can’t handle the sun obviously shouldn’t. Otherwise avoiding the sun because you want to look “white” is insecure and crazy. I can get pretty brown in the sun but no one will confuse me for a nonwhite.

    In Brazil tanning is very popular except for those who are racially borderline and who would become too dark in the sun or who have facial features that, combined with a tan, would show them to be nonwhite. But the upper class goes to the beach and tans and having an untanned body is taken to mean, again, that you are the sort of person to spend all day indoors.

    I have seen Scandinavians in Rio whose skin turns more brown than some of the locals’. No one can confuse them for nonwhites though. It is interesting the extent to which skin color is not reliable for predicting race though; these Scandis were a very deep golden brown. Japanese turn an almost purplish black when they tan.

  20. Jefferson says:

    “In Brazil tanning is very popular except for those who are racially borderline and who would become too dark in the sun or who have facial features that, combined with a tan, would show them to be nonwhite. But the upper class goes to the beach and tans and having an untanned body is taken to mean, again, that you are the sort of person to spend all day indoors.”

    Are you Brazilian ?

  21. Jefferson says:

    “Japanese turn an almost purplish black when they tan.”

    Heavily tanned Japanese people would get mistaken for Southeast Asians like Filipinos and Cambodians.

  22. Anon • Disclaimer says:

    Tanning began its rise in popularity as soon as the vast majority of people in Western societies stopped doing farm work for a living and shifted to factory/office work and no longer got that much sun. At that point, society in general was headed towards mass Vitamin D depletion and began to suffer seasonal affect disorder year round instead of just in winter. But at about the same time, the science of vitamins was discovered, including that of Vitamin D, which could be made by sunlight on the skin. As soon as this became public knowledge, the first wave of sun cults began. Tanning was born in the early 1900s, (first known as ‘sunbathing’) though it took a while to spread. Besides, tanning was a much more pleasant remedy for Vitamin D deficiency than a daily spoonful of cod liver oil, which was the other early cure. People tend to forget about the nastiness of the latter.

    Another point: You don’t get a serotonin mood boost from cod liver oil. You need sunlight to do it. Tanning may actually have nothing to do with judging your physical attractiveness by your skin color, but rather the physiological ‘attractiveness’ of your mood. Who is more attractive to you, a pale women who’s depressed, or a tanned woman who’s happy and lively? When people call a tan ‘attractive,’ they may be making a unconscious judgment about her serotonin-induced good mood, not her actual physical looks. Men are visually-minded and can be lacking in introspection. They’ll give a physical reason for why they’re attracted to a woman, rather than ‘she makes me feel good,’ because men don’t dwell on their feelings or analyze why certain mood occur in themselves the way women do.

    One last point: A tanned woman has a body newly loaded with Vitamin D, meaning she’s in good physical shape for pregnancy and the formation of fetal bones. If she’s in a playful and fun mood from a sunlight boost, she’s more likely to agree to sex.

  23. Jefferson says:

    ” Tanning may actually have nothing to do with judging your physical attractiveness by your skin color, but rather the physiological ‘attractiveness’ of your mood. Who is more attractive to you, a pale women who’s depressed, or a tanned woman who’s happy and lively?”

    I have seen pale women who are happy and lively as well as tanned women who are depressed.

  24. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Have there been any studies on variation in tanning ability among northern Europeans? It seems that people from the British Isles have difficulty tanning and burn easily or immediately, while Germans and Scandinavians are better able to tan and can tan into a bronzish, orangish-brown color.

  25. “Ancient Egyptians had a similar convention in how they represented the Pharaoh, nobles, etc., vs. the women.”

    Women were painted a lighter color than men in all civilizations that developed the visual arts — Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Aztec, etc. This artistic convention reflects a real biological difference between male and female skin.

    “America’s racial politics has made tanning begin to go out of favor among whites”

    Perhaps, but tanning is losing popularity the most among SWPL whites who don’t want to age prematurely. Whites with low future orientation are still very much into tanning.

    “I really don’t think the tanning”fad” began in the 1920s; I think it gradually grew as the Industrial Revolution spread in the 19th Century.”

    I’m sorry but you’re wrong. When the 1920s began, tanning was confined to a minority of health cultists who saw it as a cure for tuberculosis and other diseases. By the end of the decade, it had gained mass appeal. We see this in the sale of tanning products. In 1920, such products didn’t exist at all. There was no market. By 1929, there was a wide range of them.

    Your kind of argument appeals strongly to people who believe that economic relationships determine everything, i.e., historical materialism. I used to be a historical materialist and it still informs much of my thinking, but I’ve realized that human cultural development cannot be shoehorned into a unified theory of everything. Culture is complex, and its causes are multiple.

    “A tan also indicates one can engage in outdoor activities without getting a severe sunburn, so conveys physical vigor.”

    A tan conveys physical vigor because it is perceived as being a masculine trait. Before the 1920s, tanned skin was not fashionable, partly because a hypermasculine appearance was considered vulgar and partly because people were aware that tanning results in prematurely aged skin.

    “In real life blond men have – on average – a lot more “masculine” and rougher features than dark haired people, so this study does not mean anything at all.”

    The reverse is probably true. There seems to be some kind of linkage between blue eyes and facial feminization. The same is probably true for blond hair.

    see my post at:

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.ca/2011/05/is-eye-color-sex-linked.html

    “Tanning began its rise in popularity as soon as the vast majority of people in Western societies stopped doing farm work for a living and shifted to factory/office work and no longer got that much sun.”

    Sorry but you’re wrong. We’re not talking about ancient history, where there might be room for disagreement. The rise of suntanning as a health fad and then as a fashion is amply documented. It was a phenomenon of the 1920s, and the shift from farms to urban living had begun much earlier.

    “Have there been any studies on variation in tanning ability among northern Europeans?”

    Yes, people from the Celtic fringe, especially redheads, tan much less easily and tend to burn more easily.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Anonymous
  26. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Peter Frost

    “Yes, people from the Celtic fringe, especially redheads, tan much less easily and tend to burn more easily.”

    Have they studied the genes for this? Why do you suppose this is the case? Are the light skin genes different among those from the Celtic fringe and other northern Europeans?

  27. Jefferson–
    No I’m not Brazilian. I’m East European, where there has long been an appreciation of the sun and benefits of tanning. I was not aware until recently of peoples like those from the English isles who will just burn in the sun and who are not able to tan.

    Peter Frost–
    Sun-tanning and nudism precedes the 1920′s considerably in modern Europe. The book “Children of the Sun” by Gordon Kennedy documents how this arose in the late 1890′s in Germany. Russia also had a cult of nudism and suntanning.

    I would appreciate if you addressed the issue I’ve brought up from antiquity, where in Greece the men were expected to be tan because not having a tan meant you spent all your time indoors with the women and children; while having a tan meant you were an aristo who spent his time in the gym, hunting, or in military campaign. The Egyptian view was likely similar and this explains why the men are depicted as darker than the women. Whereas the Greeks saw the (unmanly) Persians as paler than themselves. This is not to deny your general point about men being slightly darker-hued than women to begin with, but because I don’t agree with your statements on the social meaning of tanning historically. I would guess that even in the 20th century an English gentleman saw a tan as a sign that you were a sportsman, yachtsman, etc., rather than someone who spent his time indoors. Historically the aversion to tanning has been strongest in the lower middle class and the merchant classes/ethnies (Armenians, etc.) who did indeed see it as a sign that you were a laborer; whereas an aristo didn’t have such concerns.

    From what I can tell from reading history 14th-17th century aristocratic men in Europe spent considerable part of their life hunting or in military campaign. I don’t see how they could have avoided becoming more tan. This quality would have become associated with their activities and their class. It is almost inevitable.

    I will try to find statements from 19th century literature that express the same idea.

    The SWPL avoid tanning for the same reasons that ancient effeminate men and peoples did, that they avoid outdoors and manly exercise. I think it is accurate to associate men who are not tanned with effeminacy and with time spent indoors (except for cases like the Irish who don’t have the ability to so it doesn’t apply). What other meaning can there be? If you spend a lot of time outdoors you will get a tan. Worrying about “premature aging” is btw unmanly and also it’s not entirely true that sun will make you age or burn (these are mitigated by a good diet).

  28. Jefferson says:

    “Yes, people from the Celtic fringe, especially redheads, tan much less easily and tend to burn more easily.”

    Northern Europeans in general regardless of hair color tan much less easily and tend to burn more. Hugh Jackson for example has gotten skin cancer before and he is not even a ginger.

  29. Jefferson says:

    “No I’m not Brazilian. I’m East European, where there has long been an appreciation of the sun and benefits of tanning. I was not aware until recently of peoples like those from the English isles who will just burn in the sun and who are not able to tan.”

    Slavic Eastern Europeans of Non Jewish descent on average do not tan as dark as Mediterraneans and Middle Easterners.

    The darkest most tanned Eastern European I personally know is a Polish Jewish woman who is married to my cousin. She has Sicilian like pigmentation.

  30. Jefferson says:

    In professional wrestling like the WWE for example, even though most wrestlers there are Caucasian, extremely white as snow ghostly casper pale wrestlers still stick out from the pack as the exception and not the norm. Most of the Caucasian WWE wrestlers have a little bit of color in them. Probably because Vince McMahon encourages most of his Caucasian wrestling employees to get a tan.

  31. Sean says:

    “I will try to find statements from 19th century literature …”.

    Allow me to clear this issue up:-

    “Persuasion (1817) is written in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, a time when the navy were seen as the saviours of the nation and the source of the best possible masculine values.47 It is also set in a time when the aristocracy was waning, and professionals – such as the navy – were rising into their place. A variety of viewpoints of the navy are shown in this Austen novel, but of these Sir Walter’s is the strongest and most harsh:

    “It is in two points offensive to me; I have two strong grounds of objection to it. First, as being the means of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinction, and raising men to honours their fathers and grandfathers never dreamt of; and secondly, as it cuts up a man’s youth and vigour most horribly; a sailor grows old sooner than any other man; I have observed it all my life.”
    Speaking as a member of the aristocracy, Sir Walter is of the opinion that the status that can be achieved by members of the navy, raises them unfairly, and that this amount of status should only achieved by being from a noble family. He also dislikes the navy from a point of view of vanity, that their skin tans, and ages quicker, a look that was discouraged for pale skin at the time of Jane Austen. Tanned skin showed that people had been working outside; therefore, they would be seen as working class. When talking about Admiral Croft – a rear-admiral of the white, who is set to move into Kellynch-hall – after discovering that he has been stationed in the East Indies for several years “ ‘Then I take it for granted,’ observed Sir Walter, ‘that his face is as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.’ ”49 This shows a contrast between the aristocracy and the navy, that a sailor’s skin will be orange, whilst an aristocrat will only have this colour as decoration to his clothing”.

    And that that was the general view up until the 1920′s. As Peter says it was sexual liberation that made tanning fashionable .

    —–
    MC1R variants increased the risk of sporadic cutaneous melanoma in darker-pigmented Caucasians: A pooled-analysis from the M-SKIP project.”

    THE identification of a surprisingly high number of MC1R natural variants strongly associated with pigmentary phenotypes and increased skin cancer risk has prompted research on the functional properties of the wild-type receptor and frequent mutant alleles. linked to lighter skin.”

    Natural selection could not have produced all this.

    If you look at the context of young women tanning, and the jobs where women who have the appearance of skin darkening are most common, it is fairly obvious that white skin is not regarded as conducive to eliciting sexual desire from men.

  32. @Fred Reed

    You are correct. There is no way to make Clint Walker’s face look feminine.

  33. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @olympicmaster


    Plutarch, Alexander 4

    Apelles, however, in painting him as wielder of the thunderbolt, did not reproduce his complexion, but made it too dark and swarthy. Whereas he was of a fair colour, as they say, and his fairness passed into ruddiness on his breast particularly, and in his face.

  34. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @olympicmaster

    Whereas the Greeks saw the (unmanly) Persians as paler than themselves.

    Rather, too much sun makes them swarthy and timid, unlike ginger barbarians who have a lot of “blood”.

    Vitruvius Pollio, The Ten Books on Architecture

    3.
    in the cold regions that are far away from the south … the races that are bred in the north are of vast height, and have fair complexions, straight red hair, grey eyes, and a great deal of blood…

    4.
    On the contrary, those that are nearest to the southern half of the axis, and that lie directly under the sun’s course, are of lower stature, with a swarthy complexion, … and but little blood on account of the force of the sun. Hence, too, this poverty of blood makes them over-timid to stand up against the sword

  35. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @olympicmaster

    P. Vergilius Maro, Eclogues
    albeit he was so dark, and you so fair!
    Trust not too much to colour, beauteous boy;
    white privets fall, dark hyacinths are culled.


    Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound

    I must rivet you with brazen bonds … scorched by the sun’s bright beams, you shall lose the fair bloom of your flesh.

  36. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    “Again, this aesthetic norm has darkened only in the Western world. The tanned look had some popularity among Japanese women in the postwar era up to the 1970s, but it has since gone out of fashion”

    Looking at melanoma rates, you go from almost zero in the 30s, climb slowly, and take off in the 70s. Eastern Europe and Japan still have low rates.

    US Melanoma Incedence por 100000 people
    1938 – 1
    1950 – 3
    1970 – 6
    1980 – 10
    1990 – 14
    2000 – 19

    melanoma incedence rates

    World … melanoma rates
    Australia – 39
    Northern America – 18
    Northern Europe – 9
    Eastern Europe – 4
    Japan – 0

  37. Sun says:

    Many people of Northern European descent are darker because of using sunless spray tans and body bronzers. Hollywood and professional wrestlers use it to produce a healthy look. When the spray tan leaves a person orange, then a professional make-up artist will apply make-up to even out the fake spray tan. Women’s magazines are filled with articles on how to cover up ugly veins, age spots and freckles like the pros with spray on tans and body bronzers. As far as going outside and tanning, it doesn’t produce the flawless look most people desire. Personally, my face never tans equally. The top of my nose is always browner than my forehead. I end up having put on a crazy amount of make-up to cover up the skin tone differences. Then my foundation ends up melting and streaking in the hot sun. Honestly, a sunless spray tan is far less work than a suntan. It gives me a more even base to work with.

    Spray tans aide people in looking healthier. I have a close friend that has Crones disease. We both turn ivory white in the winter, if we don’t add product. Friends talk about how I may be too white, but I look healthy. They insist, “You are not sickly white. You don’t look like a vampire.”

    In the middle of the winter we both have bright ivory skin. We both can only find only one shade of foundation that will blend with our light skin and not leave dark streaks. (Almay ivory) If my girlfriend with Crones spray tans in the middle of the winter everyone compliments, “You are looking really good! Your doctor must have given you something that brought you back to health!”

    Her good health is fake. Her B12 is always too low, no matter what medication she is on. I worry about my friend. The spray tan only hides her sickness while, professional spray tanning has been linked to lung cancer.

    It is surprising how little has changed since Elizabethan times. I am fairly certain that spray tanning is not any healthier than the mixture of lead and vinegar the Elizabethans used to make their faces white. Nothing has changed.

  38. Sean–
    A bit of the quote you put in is from Austen. The part from Austen says nothing about tanning having the meaning you think. The rest of what you quoted is from THE MIDDLE CLASS ACADEMIC who wrote about Austen, and who, without evidence, repeats what I described above: the prejudice of the middle class (reflecting typical middle class insecurity) that being tan is a mark of the lower classes. This couldn’t have been the attitude of the aristocracy for the simple reason that they spent all their time hunting, riding, in outdoors activities since antiquity. An aristocrat is not concerned he will be confused for the lower classes under any circumstances, which is why upper class behavior often has more in common with lower class than with middle class. Furthermore, Austen being an Englishwoman is not the best example to use for the reasons I stated above. Use French or German or Russian writers, i.e., Euros who do have the ability to tan.

    Anonymous–
    Of the classical quotes you present, only one associates (excessive) “tanning” with aging, and this is not tanning, but being bound to a rock in the sun. The rest of your quotes are not about tanning but about race or natural complexion and show that there was contempt for dark people in antiquity, but THAT IS NOT THE SAME as tanning. I never denied that there was contempt for naturally darker peoples in Greece and Rome (Nietzsche talks about this too).

    It is absurd to imply that Greeks did not tan. Men were expected to spend time in the gymnasium naked and being bronzed was a sign of vitality and health, whereas they viewed pale untanned men as effeminate. Ares is described as such, and there is an explicit passage in Republic 8 (just off the top of my head) tying the effeminacy of the fat oligarch to his paleness. Greeks also did describe the Persians as paler than themselves because they were unmanly and spent all day indoors.

    Jefferson–

    You don’t know about sun-bathing and tanning culture in Eastern Europe (including Russia) which I assure you is old and very prominent. You are also wrong about Eastern Euros and Nordics not being able to tan deeply. They can in fact become darker in color than Obama when untanned. My mother is a blonde and tans deeply, as do I, and I have light colored eyes and hair. Skin color is not a reliable way to tell either race or ethnicity: Central Asians and Middle Easterners often have extremely pale skin when they avoid the sun. Facial characteristics are a lot more telling. Furthermore, you are wrong about Jews from East Europe. Among the non-Irish I know who will readily burn in the sun are Jews with ancestry in Minsk and the Baltic, who are unable to get any sun at all without burning. That said, their face still tells their Jewishness.

    The insecurity and paranoia about “tanning” in this thread proves my point about how politicized and racialized this issue has become in the US, to the point where “Anonymous” above readily confuses race/complexion and tanning in classical sources. You all need to relax and understand that no one will confuse you for nonwhite or for a laborer/Jersey shore if you are tanned…unless…you have reason to think they will.

    It didn’t start in the 1920′s though, the book I recommended alone should show that.

  39. Jefferson says:

    ” Furthermore, you are wrong about Jews from East Europe.Furthermore, you are wrong about Jews from East Europe. Among the non-Irish I know who will readily burn in the sun are Jews with ancestry in Minsk and the Baltic, who are unable to get any sun at all without burning. That said, their face still tells their Jewishness.”

    No I am not wrong. Why are so many Italian roles in Hollywood played by Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews ?

    The Eastern European Jew Brad Garrett for example is just as swarthy as the Italian Ray Romano, that is why they were cast to play brothers on “Everybody Loves Raymond”.

    And look at how swarthy the Eastern European Jew Adam Sandler is. Back when he used to be on “Saturday Night Live” and they would do skits about Italians they would always cast him.

  40. Hang on.. I think this photo pairing is disingenuous. Don’t the cheek lines in the center not match up, due to the cropping? This makes the face on the right look like it has a bigger, possibly more squarish face than the one on the left. Certainly tanner faces could be more masculine (hello hunters and gatherers), but could the results be skewed by the facial lines?

  41. Doug says:

    Vitamin D deficiency is a major problem in in Western nations. There’s an optimal amount of sun exposure, balancing the risk of UV damage with sufficient vitamin D. On balance most Westerners get too little sun. One major factor is the type of sun exposure. Vitamin D responds to intermittent, short bursts of sunlight. Tanning is more a function of prolonged exposure.

    Someone who’s in and out of the sun all day will be maximally healthy at a lighter shade. Whereas an office or factory worker, who doesn’t see any sun Monday to Friday, will have to sit outside all weekend to hit his vitamin D quota. On net we’d expect post-industrial Europeans must be at a darker complexion to remain healthier. The human body intuitively understands this logic, when its vitamin D deficient. That’s most likely the primary cause of the 20th century aesthetic shift.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/vitamin-d-deficiency-united-states/

  42. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Peter Frost

    The reverse is probably true. There seems to be some kind of linkage between blue eyes and facial feminization. The same is probably true for blond hair.

    This has more to do with anti-white male media representation than anything else. See Steve Sailer’s blogging on Hollywood’s negative representation of blond men especially.

    Traditionally blond men were portrayed as masculine warriors, such as Vikings. Modern media and Hollywood have reversed these traditional portrayals and promoted a less masculine, more feminized image of blond men.

  43. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    tying the effeminacy of the fat oligarch to his paleness.

    Its a complaint that he wishes it were not so, but also indicates that the rich of the time are in fact fat and pale.

    The Republic Book VIII
    the young men of the governing class, are habituated to lead a life of luxury and idleness … and very likely the wiry sunburnt poor man may be placed in battle at the side of a wealthy one who has never spoilt his complexion and has plenty of superfluous flesh

    He is complaining about it, but what we have is an eye-witness account that the rich are pale next to the tanned poor. And the negative-sounding terms “sunburnt” and “spoilt his complexion”.

    Some Greek portraits:
    2,000-Year-Old Mosaics Uncovered In Turkey Before Being Lost To Flooding

    When painting technique first becomes advanced enough to be realistic:
    1600′s portraits

  44. No…not all the rich, just the oligarchs in oligarchic states. Not aristocrats, who he distinguishes from oligarchs. He’s not talking about himself or the Athenian aristocracy for example. He’s talking about particular class of people he has disdain for (effeminate oligarchs). That doesn’t cover all the “rich people” in Greece. Jesus fucking Christ you people are autistic.

    The portraits are of women from a later era.

    If you’re really insisting the rich Greeks were not tan or didn’t prize a tan in athletes (= aristocrats) you’re an idiot. It was seen as shameful for a man to be pale or fat, as the passage from Plato indicates, and the same sentiment is expressed in many other places in Greek literature, it’s ubiquitous.

    Jefferson, you’re confusing race and being tanned, yet again. No one is denying Jews look like Italians. That is because of face, not skin tone. But most Italians can be very pale as well, as can many Middle Easterners. If you doubt that Scandinavians (and East Euros) can get very brown go to a vacation location in South America and see for yourself. In the summer they can get browner than many locals.

    This is utterly retarded. I’ve done my best to educate you. You all have your heads up your asses because you’re paranoid about “looking like you’re black” or some bizarre sexual hangup about staying out in the sun.

  45. Jefferson says:

    “This has more to do with anti-white male media representation than anything else. See Steve Sailer’s blogging on Hollywood’s negative representation of blond men especially.

    Traditionally blond men were portrayed as masculine warriors, such as Vikings. Modern media and Hollywood have reversed these traditional portrayals and promoted a less masculine, more feminized image of blond men.”

    There are blond haired actors in Hollywood who are portrayed as masculine in films and television shows. Have you seen Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in “True Detective”. Daniel Craig in the James Bond films. Paul Walker in the “Fast And Furious” films. Ryan Gosling in “The Place Beyond The Pines” and “Drive”. Ben Foster in “Lone Survivor”.

    • Replies: @Southfarthing
  46. Viewer says:

    Thank you olympicmaster. Your comments seem to be well informed and correct. Unfortunately, theis websites commenting often digresses into racist rants against any non Europeans.

  47. “Sun-tanning and nudism precedes the 1920′s considerably in modern Europe. The book “Children of the Sun” by Gordon Kennedy documents how this arose in the late 1890′s in Germany. ”

    Deliberate sunbathing (called heliotherapy) began in the late 1890s as a medical treatment for tuberculosis. In the years leading up to the First World War, it gained popularity within small groups of health faddists, particularly nudists and people associated with Germany’s life reform movement. But it did not gain mainstream acceptance until after the war, first in Germany and later elsewhere. The tanned look was initially incidental and did not become fashionable until the mid-1920s. Coco Chanel is sometimes given credit but this is apparently an urban legend. Please read Segrave’s book for more about the transition from suntanning as a therapy to suntanning as a fashion.

    The sex difference in skin color is smaller among northern Europeans because their skin is already close to the physiological limit of depigmentation. This is one reason why you feel this sex difference is primarily due to lifestyle and only secondarily due to hormonal influence. Another reason is that we live in a time when women try to reverse this natural sex difference through tanning.

    This natural sex difference is much more visible among people of medium skin color, like the ancient Egyptians. It’s even quite visible among the French Canadian participants of a recent study. Look at the two pictures that show the averaged faces of the male and female participants.

    http://evoandproud.blogspot.ca/2010/12/genderface-recognition-hue-and.html

    “The SWPL avoid tanning for the same reasons that ancient effeminate men and peoples did, that they avoid outdoors and manly exercise”

    You’re trying to inject ideology into this discussion. Whatever the faults of SWPL people, lack of physical fitness isn’t one of them. Overweight couch potatoes tend to be non-SWPL.

    “Vitamin D deficiency is a major problem in Western nations.”

    No, it isn’t. In any case, it doesn’t take much sun exposure to meet the body’s vitamin D requirements. There is also evidence that overexposure can degrade the skin’s capacity to synthesize vitamin D.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  48. Jefferson says:

    What is funny is seeing uneven tans like a person who has a tanned face but a pale neck for example.

    Or tanned arms and pale legs.

  49. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Peter Frost

    You’re trying to inject ideology into this discussion.

    You’ve already injected ideology into this discussion with claims of “linkage” between blond hair or blue eyes in men with “feminization” without addressing anti-white male representation in the media and Hollywood.

  50. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @olympicmaster

    There was very little “indoors” in the ancient world. No lights or architecture technology. Everyone was pretty much outside all the time doing heavy manual labor. Even our effeminate noble doing something like watching a play would involve being in an open-air amphitheater. So, I suppose un-tanned skin was rare.

    But I don’t think anyone sun-tanned in the sense of a fat noble reclining on a couch in his garden while a servant holds a mirror under his chin working on his tan (don’t forget the grapes). Such a tan could be made more even and aesthetically pleasing than one gotten say, training for war. Helmet and shield gives you a “hopolite’s tan”. Do you switch orientation continuously while drilling so one side doesn’t get all the sun? Also, you might expect to find tanning makeup recipes if it was fashionable. Or a treatise on how to get a good tan.

  51. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @olympicmaster

    @Sean
    Persuasion (1817) … their skin tans, and ages quicker

    @olympicmaster
    This couldn’t have been the attitude of the aristocracy for the simple reason that they spent all their time hunting, riding

    From 1817 painting of hunting attire:
    John Levett Hunting at Wychnor, Staffordshire
    Here protected from the scorching northern English sun with gloves, a scarf like thing that bunches up around the entire neck, and top hat with a wide brim. They really weren’t into the sun.

    I don’t see how they could have avoided becoming more tan.

    They could avoid it by wearing turtlenecks and wide-brimmed hats wrapped in fabric that drapes down the back:
    Scenes of a Boar and Bear Hunt
    boar_and_bear_hunt_tapestry

  52. @Jefferson

    There are blond haired actors in Hollywood who are portrayed as masculine in films and television shows. Have you seen Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in “True Detective”. Daniel Craig in the James Bond films. Paul Walker in the “Fast And Furious” films. Ryan Gosling in “The Place Beyond The Pines” and “Drive”. Ben Foster in “Lone Survivor”.

    Additional blond heroes:

    -Brad Pitt in Troy
    -Chris Hemsworth was this year’s “most sexy man.”
    -Chris Pratt from Guardians of the Galaxy was a close second as this year’s “most sexy man.”
    -Chris Pine in the Star Trek reboots.
    -Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger and Mirror Mirror.
    -Orlando Bloom in Lord of the Rings.
    -Guy Pearce in Memento
    -Robert Redford
    -Paul Newman
    -Mark Hamil and Hayden Christensen
    -Jeremy Renner
    -Jude Law
    -Ryan Reynolds
    -Bradley Cooper
    -Heath Ledger
    -Leonardo DiCaprio

    Blond male heroes, and heart-throbs in particular, appear to be comparably represented or over-represented relative to their proportion of movie ticket-buyers.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  53. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Southfarthing

    Hemsworth’s most prominent role to date has been a Norse god

    Pratt, Pine, Hammer, Renner, and Pearce aren’t very big stars. Memento was a small movie

    Bloom played a fantasy elf character in Lord of the Rings.

    Newman was a brunet.

    Hamil and Christensen haven’t really had careers outside of Star Wars.

    Ledger’s most famous roles were a psychotic villain and a gay cowboy.

    Redford has been producing and directing for much of his career and has had greater infleunce and control over his casting.

    At any rate, the point of course isn’t that there aren’t any positive or leading roles for blond men. The point is the relative positive and negative portrayals of blond men.

    • Replies: @Southfarthing
  54. The point is the relative positive and negative portrayals of blond men.

    I counted blondes on two lists.

    In this list of “49 Sexiest Actors of all time,” 14.5 are blond. (Guy Pearce is counted as .5 because he’s sometimes blond, and sometimes brunette.) (The list mistakenly counts Heath Ledger twice, making it 49 total, rather than 50.)

    In this list of 17 teen heartthrobs, 8 are blond. (It’s 8 out of 21 if we include non-White actors, who largely cater to the non-White audience.)

    The proportion of blonds on these two lists, 29% and 47%, is higher than the proportion of men who are blond, and higher than the 28% of women who preferred blonds in this study of 1970s Wyoming college students.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  55. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Southfarthing

    Those lists are completely arbitrary.

    The IMDB list of actors was just made by an ordinary member of the website. It includes not very well known or popular actors and minor actors. It doesn’t even include Robert Redford.

    The teen heartthrob list is an arbitrary list of largely forgotten and unknown people who were on TV shows when they were young but haven’t really had careers in acting or entertainment afterwards. It includes people like Wilmer Vilderamma. It’s completely irrelevant and unserious.

    You also overcount. Counting liberally, there are perhaps about 10 blond actors on the IMDB list. On the heartthrob list, there are about 3 or 4, not 8.

    Paul Newman wasn’t blond.

  56. e says:
    @Priss Factor

    Yes, because she’s been using PEDs for years.

  57. @Anonymous:

    The hoplites did their general physical training in the nude in the open gymnasia under the sun. Here is a passage from Xenophon’s Agesilaus where the contempt that aristocratic Greeks had for pale, flabby males, and for the pale-skinned Persians, is on full display:

    “Thereupon it was a sight to see the gymnasiums thronged with warriors going through their exercises, the racecourses crowded with troopers on prancing steeds, the archers and the javelin men shooting at the butts. Nay, the whole city in which he lay was transformed into a spectacle itself, so filled to overflowing was the market-place with arms and armour of every sort, and horses, all for sale. Here were coppersmiths and carpenters, ironfounders and cobblers, painters and decorators—one and all busily engaged in fabricating the implements of war; so that an onlooker might have thought the city of Ephesus itself a gigantic arsenal. It would have kindled courage in the breast of a coward to see the long lines of soldiers, with Agesilaus at their head, all garlanded as they marched in proud procession from the gymnasiums and dedicated their wreaths to our Lady Artemis. Since, where these three elements exist—reverence towards heaven, practice in military affairs, and obedience to command—all else must needs be full of happy promise.

    But seeing that contempt for the foe is calculated to infuse a certain strength in face of battle, he ordered his criers to strip naked the barbarians captured by his foraging parties, and so to sell them. The soldiers who saw the white skins of these folk, unused to strip for toil, soft and sleek and lazy-looking, as of people who could only stir abroad in carriages, concluded that a war with women would scarcely be more formidable. Then he published a further order to the soldiers: “I shall lead you at once by the shortest route to the stronghold (13) of the enemy’s territory. Your general asks you to keep yourselves on the alert in mind and body, as men about to enter the lists of battle on the instant.””

    They are indeed compared to women. This is NOT A RACIAL issue. The Greeks were white and much blonder than they are now. The Persians were a confederation that was generally Middle Eastern in appearance I’d guess. But even now in the Middle East people who spend all day indoors (as many do) are very pale-skinned. You still can’t confuse them for Europeans, any more than you can confuse a deeply tanned Swede for a black, although some can get a deeper brown than mulattoes like Obama.

    So Viewer, this is not a racial issue. It’s about unathletic peoples being “shut-ins” who spend all their day indoors. Unfortunately it’s not possible to talk about tanning without talking about this, Frost, which takes me to:

    @Peter Frost

    Peter you yourself brought ideology and culture into all this. I never doubted your claim that men are on average slightly darked-hued than women naturally. But your post isn’t just about this, it’s also about the cultural origins of modern tanning, and includes claims about tanning in general. This is what I’m disagreeing with. I think you and some other posters here betray a typically modern middle class insecurity about tanning, i.e., that it’s for the “lower classes,” etc., when historically as I keep saying, and as some of the things I’ve quoted show, it was de rigueur for upper class men to have a tan, as it reflected manliness and outdoorsmanship/hunting/military enterprise. And so while I can agree with you on the natural hue business, I don’t agree about what tanning means in historical white societies, what it means now (in Russia and Eastern Europe it has an old history not connected to your claims about a “harder” sexuality), and about why ancient art depicts men as significantly darker than women.

    • Replies: @Sean
    , @Anonymous
  58. Sean says:
    @olympicmaster

    Olympic master, comments 6, 10 and 32 (“surprisingly high number of MC1R natural variants strongly associated with pigmentary phenotypes and increased skin cancer risk has prompted research on the functional properties of the wild-type receptor and frequent mutant alleles. linked to lighter skin”) showed there is scientific evidence that skin melanisation is connected to sexual arousal in men and women, and hence that white skin is difficult to explain in terms of natural selection, but can be easily explained by sexual selection.

    Now we are at comment 60 and you are still coming up with historical examples of sun exposure correlating with manliness, and claiming they are unconnected to the above posted essay’s thesis that tanning is connected to a “harder” sexuality (there is a YouTube video where you can hear about the 8 hour erections caused by a tanning drug called Melotan 2).

    The appearance of women in porn may be reasonably regarded as an indication of what men are sexually aroused by. Most of the popular women are white and have the appearance of a noticeable tan.

  59. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @olympicmaster

    Light skin is mentioned in conjunction with being “soft” and “unused to … toil”, confirming the age old association of tanning with being a manual loborer. The majority of the army being encouraged thus would be made up mostly of commoners, and themselves “used to toil”. Also, the captives were regular soldiers, and not nobles.

    The phrase “unused to strip for toil” indicates the primary reason to be exposed to the sun is to conduct manual labor.

    Also, we have a datapoint that Persian soldiers were pale.

    HERMES
    Hermes with wide brimmed hat to keep sun off his face.

  60. Rifleman,
    That’s one ugly guy…

    Sean,
    Not sure what you’re disagreeing with from my posts. Are you saying that the historical examples I’ve brought up about why men were expected to be tan are false?

    No I don’t think it has to do with a “harder” sexuality. There are all kinds of trends in the 20th and 21st centuries and it’s difficult to see all the streams. Some of the popularity of tanning may also have to do with the prominence of California in pop culture starting in the 1950′s; a lot of midbest WASP’s who moved there became tan because of the Med climate and time spent outdoors and at beach, and popularized the tan look as California became emblematic of America.

    That’s separate from a lot of the things discussed so far. It’s different in different countries. I’m talking about a broad historical trend that explains why men in a variety of cultures have been expected to be tan. It goes against the conventional wisdom about tans being avoided because it’s “low class.” That is a middle class view that is furthermore ignorant of what really separated the classes in premodern Europe. It’s not easy to confuse a king for a commoner, they’re not so insecure.

  61. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    In the famous Alexander Mosaic depicting Alexander and Darius III in battle, there isn’t really a difference in skin tone or physical appearance between Alexander and Darius III and the Persians:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Mosaic

  62. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    Umbrellas were used to avoid tanning, but they were also used simply to keep cool.

  63. Anonymous,
    You are clearly autistic. I don’ t know why I bother to argue with you but here goes.
    The soldiers were not commoners. You know nothing about hoplite warfare in ancient Greece. You needed to buy your own armor and weapons, these were not provided by the state or army; which were expensive. In Athens the party that wanted to restrict the franchise to hoplites was considered an aristocratic party (they made a coup in 411 if I remember right). The soldiers Xenophon is describing with their FUCKING KING AGESILAUS AT THEIR HEAD (he is not a “commoner” if you can’t understand this) are heading from the gymnasiums to the temple all decked out in their (expensive) armor. The king himself, if it didn’t dawn on you, is clearly tanned as well from the discussion, as was Xenophon, himself an aristocrat and mercenary leader. This is one aristocrat writing about another showing as clearly as possible the contempt that ancient Greek aristos had for men who were not tanned.

    Second, the translation may be misleading you by its choice of words (you shouldn’t read too deeply into translations until you see the original; please consult the Perseus library for an alternative and clearer translation) but your autism speaks through when you don’t seem to understand the other cues given; namely that the reason the Persians were untanned is because they weren’t used to rigor and could only travel in carriages because they were weak and effeminate. “Toil” here isn’t referring to manual labor or agricultural labor; read the paragraph around it, the soldiers WITH THEIR FUCKING KING just got done exercising NAKED IN THE GYMNASIUM (which comes from the word “to strip”). Read the passage. It says the Persians are not accustomed to stripping. Do you understand why he’s saying this? The reference is to the Persians’ lack of exercise (they do not strip, i .e. they don’t go to the gym where you went naked and got a tan while you were at it), and are not accustomed to exercising for military or athletic affairs. Greeks elsewhere refer to going to the gym as a (necessary) chore or toil. You are, again, autistic.

    I’m not sure what your reference to the captured soldiers not being nobles is about. Doesn’t that contradict your point and support mine? Indeed they are not Persian nobles. They are captured Persian soldiers, maybe rank and file, maybe slaves pressed into military service, who are, as I have been saying, pale, weak, and effeminate, something that Agesilaus points out to his soldiers so they can see their enemies are pussies.

    Your other pics from various cultures are interesting and also have nothing to do with what we’re discussing. The fact that umbrellas have occasionally been used by ruling classes from various nations doesn’t contradict what I’m saying. No more than the fact that Greeks said orientals were effeminates who spent all day indoors, or that they had contempt for soft oligarchs, as in the Plato passage from Book 8, which I believe you (?) quoted above, also misunderstanding it in a typically autistic way.

    I don’t mind arguing but I just showed you 2 passages I had from memory which prove to any non-autist that ancient Greek aristos (who worked out naked in gymnasia (= naked) under the sun) had contempt for pale and untanned males, and you manage to miss the point each time entirely. As also in the Plato passage above where you don’t see the sarcasm and mockery implicit in referring to the oligarch’s “unspoiled” complexion. Yes, he is calling them women, as Agesilaus is calling the Persians women. Yes indeed, women are pale, and pale men who are unspoiled by the suna nd don’t exercise and spend time outdoors hunting, preparing for war, etc. are also effeminate. This is the point. Do you understand what they’re saying?

  64. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The Greeks also mocked the Persians for wearing pants, which they regarded as effeminate. The Persians wore trousers because they were traditionally a horse riding culture.

  65. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The soldiers were not commoners.

    Ok, I mean middle class. They were an egalitarian, communistic society, and, dare I say, a little “spartan”. They had contempt for the Persians with their stratified society and its soft aristocrats that don’t work for a living and wear fancy outfits. Kings were expected to fight alongside his men and be a “first among equals”. Having a population of a mere 50,000 this was feasible.

    Ill concede Spartas egalitarian town of 50 thousand rustics was into athleticism. And Ill balance that against the Persian empire of 50 million with its pale aristocracy that just never got the memo.

    From the book:
    Here were coppersmiths and carpenters, ironfounders and cobblers, painters and decorators—one and all busily engaged in fabricating the implements of war

    In this era, Greek commoners wore scanty tunics, and if working hard, even less. Theyre all outside soaking up the rays, as they do every other day. Our troops drilling under the same sun are getting just as burnt, so how could they distinguish themselves from the commonors?

    Spartan cup of mid sixth century BC
    “Arkesilaos, king of Kyrene in North Africa, supervises the weighting
    of merchandise.”
    Commoners, scantily clad, bear burdens to scales while king, clothed in ankle-length skirt, shirt with sleeves, on his head a wide-brimmed hat with cloth draping down and covering the back of the neck, performs his dashing kingly duty of the supervision of the weighing of merchandise.

    ancient tomb in Greek Macedonia that is believed to date back to the era of Alexander the Great
    Ginger Macedonians cant hold a tan.

    DRINKING CONTEST OF HERAKLES & DIONYSOS (Roman era)
    Hercules shows off his buff bod, while Dionysos has let himself go.

    Venus And Mars (Pompeii)
    A paler version of Mars.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  66. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    The Spartans didn’t work and weren’t a middle class society. They ruled over and lived off the slave population of helots that did the work.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  67. They were mercs not Spartan soldiers. Spartan soldiers (hoplites) were not “middle class” by any modern definition, nor rustics. Sparta was a military aristocracy. Depending on the time period you are talking some were richer, some poorer, but all had landed estates with serfs that their wives managed while they did the military life. Some of the estates were very rich. If you became too poor you got taken off the citizenship rolls. These were not rustics, and mercs weren’t just middle class but often aristos (Xenophon, for example, was from old family). The references he makes are not to Spartan soldiers, and even if it were, it wouldn’t support your case. The aristocrats as well used the gyms (i.e., stripped naked to exercise in open air; the crucial phrase about the Persians with their white skins is that they “didn’t strip,” i.e., didn’t engage in aristocratic exercise).

    I would guess that commoners, some were tanned, some were not, depending on their trade or their slavery. By far the greatest number of slaves at Athens worked in the horrible conditions in the silver mines. They were obviously not tanned. An agricultural helot in Sparta was probably tanned; a workshop/factory laborer in Athens or other cities was probably not tan. It all depends, but the point is that the “tan = laborer” trope makes no sense in pre-modern times in aristocratic societies. Aristocrats at all times have seen untanned men as effeminates who spent their lives indoors with the women and children. I gave you 2 examples from literature that I remembered off-hand, you made me go look for them, and now you’re still denying it when their own words are staring you in the face.

    You seem consistently to miss the point about the Persians. It’s not that “they never got the memo.” This is the crux of the matter, which you seem immune to understanding. Effeminate peoples (Persians, orientals), and effeminate classes of men (slaves, effete oligarchs) didn’t exercise, do athletics, train for war, hunt, etc., so they were untanned like women. The fact that you keep bringing up classes of people (Persians, oligarchs, etc.) who are included in this judgment makes my case, not yours. This was my very point to begin with. You can keep bringing up examples of elites from around the world who were untanned; my point wasn’t about Persian or Chinese mandarins or modern SWPL’s with office arms. Indeed I said in the beginning that in the Orient and Near East especially mercantile elites and peoples like Armenians, SE Azns, etc., disdain a tan for the reasons stated above. That is not the case with European aristocrats historically, though fashions do change. It’s not possible to work out, lead a military, or hunt in the sun and not get a tan (just reading book on 30 yrs war now that talks about how the king of Sweden got tan in the summers from leading his armies, CV Wedgwood). That doesn’t mean that having a tan or not having one is a reliable way to distinguish an aristo from a laborer of any kind. I already said they were not that insecure: there are many other things that would “tell.” The ONLY people who have such insecurities are those who could be readily confused for the lower classes, i.e., this is a middle- and lower-middle class insecurity, not an upper class one. The same thing goes on in Brazil btw where the upper class readily tans (in part also because they exercise outdoors) while the lower middle class avoids the sun because they want to avoid looking darker.

    The pics you keep posting are not entirely relevant, even if interesting. A king of Cyrene may or may not represent aristocratic culture, depending on the time period. Some Sicilian tyrants made efforts to conform to aristo expectations, but not all Greek kings did. Furthermore the use of an umbrella or a helmet to avoid the sun proves nothing. I am quite tan as you might imagine but I also avoid the hottest midday sun, resting under a canopy or staying indoors. Probably if I had a servant with umbrella I’d use one, and I definitely would use a protective helmet or some covering if I was going to campaign for many hours at the height of summer. I’m sorry I have to call you autistic, but this is why I did it. It’s as if you believe that getting a tan = you must love the sun at all hours and all times. This isn’t mathematics. I gave you 2 examples already; if you look up Lucian also says athletes should exercise in the sun and be sunbronzed.

    Ares/Mars btw is famously an EFFEMINATE figure in mythology, which is why he was often represented as pale-skinned. If you imagine why, he was not loved as a figure by Greeks, who made an effort to show him (like Paris from Iliad) to be a soft-handed momma’s boy who spent all his day indoors with a woman (Aphrodite) and who was treated like a whining little bitch by Zeus. This is even if it was easy to interpret the pictures you point to, which it is not because this art was not representational necessarily. This is like feminists who point to Venus of Willendorf as proof that prehistoric peoples approved of obesity.

  68. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The Persians traditionally had a nomadic pastoralist culture and even after the empire was established, Persian elites often lived in mobile tents and camps that moved to different areas with the seasons e.g. mountains in the summers etc.

  69. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Herodotus
    Another version of the publication of the work, however, claims that Herodotus refused to read his book to the crowd until there was ample cloud cover to shade him on the platform. While he waited, the audience left, and this event is what gave rise to the maxim, “Like Herodotus and his shade” (alluding to one who misses an opportunity by waiting for propitious circumstances).

  70. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Anonymous

    The Spartans didn’t work and weren’t a middle class society. They ruled over and lived off the slave population of helots that did the work.

    Vis a vis Persians, they were more egalitarian (slaves excepted) and less into having a society with rich people enjoying luxuries.

    King Agesilaus praised for living a “spartan” lifestyle:
    The very couch he lay upon must be sorrier than that of any of his company or he would have blushed for shame, since in his opinion it was the duty of a leader to excel all ordinary mortals in hardihood, not in effeminacy.

    Yet there were things in which he was not ashamed to take the lion’s share, as, for example, the sun’s heat in summer, or winter’s cold. Did occasion ever demand of his army moil and toil, he laboured beyond all others as a thing of course, believing that such ensamples are a consolation to the rank and file. Or, to put the patter compendiously, Agesilaus exulted in hard work: indolence he utterly repudiated.

    ———————————————–

    … and had scorn for aristocratic Persians:

    I will here state to what extent the style of living which he presented stands out in striking contrast to the ostentatious manner of the Persian.

    Again, it is worthy of observation how much easier and simpler to satisfy was the standard of comfort which the Spartan aimed at. For the Persian, men must compass sea and land to discover some beverage which he will care to drink; he needs ten thousand pastrycooks to supply the kick-shaws he will deign to eat; and to procure him the blessing of sleep no tongue can describe what a world of trouble must be taken. But Agesilaus was a lover of toil, and therefore not so dainty; the meanest beverage was sweet to his lips, and pleasant enough to his taste was the chance fare of the moment; and for the purpose of refreshing slumber every place alike conducive.

  71. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    (just reading book on 30 yrs war now that talks about how the king of Sweden got tan in the summers from leading his armies

    Good for him, he really needed to get some color:
    Konung Gustaf II Adolf

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