Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty

Ever wonder why babies are cute, why gentlemen prefer blondes, or why the human ballsack is the size that it is? Hmmm, ok maybe not that last one, but the answers are pretty interesting.

The subject of beauty is far from only skin deep, and it strikes me how very perfect the book’s title is. Beauty isn’t just incidental, and the source of frivolous fun or petty envy. It’s deeply tied into our instincts as living things, something we share with even the flowers, and goes back virtually as far as we do. This book leaves no stone unturned, and encompasses science, sociology, and of course biology in a way that’s truly fun to read. Not only that, but Nancy Etcoff’s own personal touch is extremely compelling, and this alone makes the book worth a read. This combined with the huge amount of learning inside is likely to leave you with a whole new perspective on a subject you once held strong and long-lived opinions about.

What’s interesting here is the particular way that this information offers up new meaning to the subject of beauty. To understand how beauty has transformed us biologically and culturally into the creatures that we are, it becomes both more important and yet less important all at once. Without beauty, we simple would not be, but who we have become also gives us the power to appreciate it in the most enlightening way possible. This isn’t a book so much about sitting in front of the mirror, putting on makeup and poking at your belly as it is about humanity itself. It strikes me as extremely valuable, and it can and should be read by people of all genders and ages. This book is awesome, and as it meets both my demands of educational and entertaining, I can’t recommend it enough.

Rather just see the movie? Well, there isn’t one exactly, but you might want to check out The Human Face.

Other recommended reads:  The History of Beauty, Sex in History.

Petals: Vagina Diologues


I just saw a movie that was fascinating and awe-inspiring. And that movie was about vaginas. More specifically, about a book filled with simple artistic photos of vaginas, and its photographer Nick Karras, and the dialogue that ensues about it. I never really thought about the relationship women have with their vaginas until seeing this. Women have very complex relationships with the rest of their bodies, and it seems vaginas, all tucked under there away from sight, don’t get any attention except from doctors and sexual partners. This is a problem. Because so much of what corrupts women’s self-image about themselves “down there” is related to the fact that it gets so ignored. I was stunned to find out that since so many women base their image of what a vagina should look like on junior high puberty pamphlets and porn, that they go through life feeling deformed, because almost nobody actually looks like this, especially that simplistic little diagram.
Another problem is that so often women’s vaginas almost seem to be used as weapons against them. Considered only beautiful when a baby is coming out of them, something otherwise bad, dirty, and the reason for exploitation by men. In fact, something not even good enough to be talked about at all.
One of the most fascinating parts of the movie was when the people at Hustler got a hold of the book and wanted to do a feature. These men, used to seeing photos of vaginas all day, never really stopped to look at how different and beautiful they are. In fact, the one interviewed seemed so stunned that all he could do was repeat himself over and over. Even doctors commented on this new perspective.
To be honest, I didn’t want to write this review. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. But if I didn’t, wouldn’t I be kind of part of the problem? After seeing this, it’s come to my attention that a lot of you ladies would feel a LOT more fabulous if you had a more positive view of yourselves down there. It’s bad enough being concerned that you’re too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dark, too pale… without worrying about that too. So I’m making it my duty to tell you that if you have these discomforts, or even if you just love vaginas, you should absolutely see this movie, and buy the book. You may come out of it feeling okay about your body for the first time, and gaining a new perspective on the beauty of women.
Also check out, a site discussed in the film.