The Human Animal: The Biology of Love

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In Western cultures, females use make-up to accentuate their features. This cultural custom dates back to Egyptian times.

How do humans make themselves ‘sexy’ and attractive?

We now know that both males and females find health and vigor sexually attractive in a mate. From a biological stance, sexual arousal impacts certain physical properties of the human animal, more specifically in females such as dilated pupils, reddened lips and glowing skin. But how do we give such impressions in everyday life? Morris now goes onto describe human sexual signals, which allow humans to give the impression that they are ‘sexy’.

When we people meet there are many ways they can transmit sexual signals such as a smile or for longhaired individuals playing with their hair. These acts are flirtatious and give the impression of, “Look, I’m making myself more attractive for you”.  Then there’s a more natural signal, made possible by our naked skin: the blush. This blushing of the visible skin, as a social signal is superficially similar to the flushing that occurs during sexual intercourse. The blush usually starts in the centre of the cheek then spreads to the neck and upper torso. This change of skin colour to the male onlooker is attractive. The pinkness eludes the impression of youth and health, a sexual glow, as well as having a virginal and innocent quality, which appeals to him.

But how do humans maintain such physical properties if the triggers are upcoming from biological factors? Quite simple…make up. The use of blusher in modern make up is supposedly used to highlight cheekbones yet mimics the start of a natural blush, which is inevitably apart of it’s appeal. Mascara and eye shadows can make the human eye pop, which makes eye contact all the more irresistible. Again I feel it important to mention Morris is coming from a biological and heterosexual perspective. And so these sexual signals are exclusively female, in order to attract a male. Of course, in reality males can adopt such acts of mimicry too to make him feel more attractive. But for now let’s just consider the biological and heterosexual desire of the human species.

Another sexual signal exclusive to females are the rounded female breasts, which are unique to our species. Apes are completely flat chested when their not giving milk to their young. However, the human female retains her swollen breasts throughout her adult life. Whilst breasts have a function, their shape is purely sexual. The roundedness of breasts seems to have evolved as a mimic to the roundedness of the buttocks. Most female primates sexual signals occur in the lower regions. However, as humans became upright it was necessary to have a frontal display as well. Morris then compares a close up of a females’ breasts to a females’ buttocks and the resemblance is uncanny. In fact such sexual signals are evident in most of the female body, such as the roundedness of the shoulders and of the knees. This roundedness and softness of these body parts provide visual echoes of the prime evil buttock display.

Female lips provide visual echoes too, another form of self-mimicry; in both shape and colour lips resemble that of the external genitals. When the labia reddens during sexual arousal the lips also become swollen and redder.  This change can be artificially heightened through the application of lipstick, a cultural exaggeration, which has been employed by women since the days of ancient Egypt. This idea of attractiveness and sexual arousal being directly contingent with swollen reddened lips got me thinking. It made me realise how so many females who are considered ‘beautiful’ and ‘sexual’ in modern culture possess such qualities: big red lips. It appears that our perspectives of what is beautiful and what is not are merely shaped by our biological tendencies for sexual intercourse and reproduction. Bigger means better, right?

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