On 'Beauty-Disadvantaged Women'

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | August 18, 2008 11:58 am

I occasionally touch on standards of beauty and couldn’t help but notice this uh, charming story:


Life can get a little lonely for bachelors in the Australian Outback mining town of Mount Isa. So the mayor has offered up a solution: recruit ugly women.

Mayor John Molony found himself under attack Monday over comments he made to a local newspaper that read: “May I suggest if there are five blokes to every girl, we should find out where there are beauty-disadvantaged women and ask them to proceed to Mount Isa.”

Beauty-disadvantaged women? Now in my opinion, valuing an individual’s quality on appearances is a bit prehistoric. We ladies generally take offense when we’re judged solely on superficial attributes, and furthermore, Mr. Molony seems to be suggesting that his male voters will settle for anything. Then again, given this unenlightened fellow was elected, maybe they will.

Quite often you will see walking down the street a lass who is not so attractive with a wide smile on her face,” he continued. “Whether it is recollection of something previous or anticipation for the next evening, there is a degree of happiness.”

The thing is, we ‘lasses‘ smile for reasons beyond satisfaction with our menfolk. Will someone please fetch this mayor a Disney flick? Of course, considering his debonair invitation, it’s possible hordes of available females will converge upon Mount Isa to bask in testosterone. Stranger things have happened. But it’s worth noting that Mr. Molony was sworn into office in 2004 and New.com.au reports there were 994 females aged 20-24 living in town in 1996 and 819 in 2006. No, correlation does not equate with causation, but I’m wondering if readers agree that perhaps a different mayor might be more appealing to all women?


Comments (4)

  1. Skip

    I don’t know who should be more insulted. Resident men or women?

  2. phisrow

    I’m sure that there have been more tactless applications of supply/demand pricing theory to human interaction; but they aren’t exactly leaping to mind.

  3. Scote

    Neanderthal as it may be, the fact is that appearance is correlated with success, perhaps more so than intelligence. Both height and beauty correlate with success…

    So, why is it so much better to judge people on their intelligence? As if you can will yourself to be smarter. Or will yourself to have more will, for that matter.

    We can say that judging people on their intelligence is ok because we are judging them on their ability, but why is that ok? Intelligence not a sure factor in people’s success.

    I’m not endorsing John Molony’s comments, but I think we need to consider the larger picture of why some of our attributes are “ok” to praise while others are not. Since this is a blog run by two smart and attractive people perhaps you have some insight?

  4. I can only offer a bit of a story.

    The other night I was surfing around Comcast’s Dating on Demand listings. The woman who had the body type I’m most attracted to didn’t seem to have a single functioning brain cell in her head, and the most intelligent thing she said in her entire video profile involved bragging about her breasts. On the other hand, out of the half-dozen or so profiles I watched, the one I thought was the most likely dating material was also the one I found the least attractive of any of them — overweight, not particularly cute, kind of a stereotypical otaku type, but still had the sort of geek-friendly personality that makes up for physical shortfalls.

    Which is not to say that I think any less of Kari Byron or Danica McKellar, but it’s a strong reminder that shallowness is not to a man’s advantage…


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About Sheril Kirshenbaum

Sheril Kirshenbaum is a research scientist with the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin's Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy where she works on projects to enhance public understanding of energy issues as they relate to food, oceans, and culture. She is involved in conservation initiatives across levels of government, working to improve communication between scientists, policymakers, and the public. Sheril is the author of The Science of Kissing, which explores one of humanity's fondest pastimes. She also co-authored Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future with Chris Mooney, chosen by Library Journal as one of the Best Sci-Tech Books of 2009 and named by President Obama's science advisor John Holdren as his top recommended read. Sheril contributes to popular publications including Newsweek, The Washington Post, Discover Magazine, and The Nation, frequently covering topics that bridge science and society from climate change to genetically modified foods. Her writing is featured in the anthology The Best American Science Writing 2010. In 2006 Sheril served as a legislative Knauss science fellow on Capitol Hill with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) where she was involved in energy, climate, and ocean policy. She also has experience working on pop radio and her work has been published in Science, Fisheries Bulletin, Oecologia, and Issues in Science and Technology. In 2007, she helped to found Science Debate; an initiative encouraging candidates to debate science research and innovation issues on the campaign trail. Previously, Sheril was a research associate at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and has served as a Fellow with the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History and as a Howard Hughes Research Fellow. She has contributed reports to The Nature Conservancy and provided assistance on international protected area projects. Sheril serves as a science advisor to NPR's Science Friday and its nonprofit partner, Science Friday Initiative. She also serves on the program committee for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She speaks regularly around the country to audiences at universities, federal agencies, and museums and has been a guest on such programs as The Today Show and The Daily Rundown on MSNBC. Sheril is a graduate of Tufts University and holds two masters of science degrees in marine biology and marine policy from the University of Maine. She co-hosts The Intersection on Discover blogs with Chris Mooney and has contributed to DeSmogBlog, Talking Science, Wired Science and Seed. She was born in Suffern, New York and is also a musician. Sheril lives in Austin, Texas with her husband David Lowry.Interested in booking Sheril Kirshenbaum to speak at your next event? Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau 866.376.6591 info@hachettespeakersbureau.comFor more information, visit her website or email Sheril at srkirshenbaum@yahoo.com.


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