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A Tech-Econ Mashup with a Libertarian Flavor

Competing Conceptions of Beauty?

I’m a bit off-topic today, but I felt compelled to explore and share my thoughts on this subject. While shopping at Target yesterday, I stumbled across this display in the home furnishings department:

Two of America’s most enduring beauty and fashion icons hung side-by-side at the end of the aisle. Marilyn Monroe, the most popular and widely-recognized American female sex symbol, juxtaposed next to Audrey Hepburn, who was recently voted most naturally beautiful woman ever in a poll of cosmetic industry experts.

While I hate making general assumptions about broad groups of people (especially between genders), I think that these two women were chosen for this line of art-deco speaks volumes about western conceptions of “beauty.” (Disclaimer: the following statements are highly generalized opinions and not self-evident truths). Marilyn, the original “blonde bombshell,” is synonymous with seductiveness, overt sexuality, and glamour. Audrey, on the other hand, is associated with a more elegant, timeless, and often cute and innocent type of beauty. Both women were gorgeous, to be sure, but to me, they are very different and difficult to compare. I’ve tended to believe that Marilyn, with her voluptuous figure and sex appeal, is representative of a traditional male concept of beauty, and Audrey, with those big doe-eyes and delicate features, represents a more female concept of beauty. Sexy vs. Sweet (I wonder if Freud would have something to say about this).

Obviously, most attractive women have elements of both, and they certainly can’t be divided into blondes vs. brunettes – there are plenty of “sweet blondes” and “smoldering brunettes” out there (not to mention feisty redheads, ha ha). In my quest for the truth (and because today’s public finance lecture was pretty tedious), I did what any good scientist would do, and spent the afternoon polling my male friends on google chat. So, do gentlemen prefer blondes or fair ladies? Granted, this was by no means a scientific poll, and my circle of male g-chat friends may not be representative of the male population, but as of 4 PM, the score is a 50-50 split between the two women with 8 votes each. Not surprisingly, my male-female dichotomy wasn’t entirely accurate (damn those gender-based generalizations).

Some comments I gathered during the process:

  • “Marilyn. I like ’em thick, you know that.”
  • “Marilyn is more f***able, Audrey is more attractive. Audrey.”
  • “I’m not really into little and petite, I like me a boomin’ lady. Marilyn.”
  • “Marilyn is sexy, Audrey is pretty. Audrey.”
  • “Marilyn. She’d be way more fun in bed.”
  • “Audrey. Not even close.”

Interesting, no? Personally, I would have a hard time answering this question. My initial instinct is to say Marilyn, although I suspect it’s just “blonde solidarity” behind that answer (even though she was actually a brunette). Really, it’s a toss-up.

I’ll update if/when I get more votes. Feel free to vote in the comments.

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Filed under: Off-Topic, Pop Culture, ,

5 Responses

  1. Will Luther says:

    My male perspective: Hepburn trumps Monroe. No question.

  2. Jon says:

    Why didn’t my “do vs. marry” analysis make it in?

  3. Libby says:

    Jon: Because it was obvious. 😛

  4. e says:

    Here’s a female perspective for you. (and a blonde one at that) —

    Marilyn flaunts what she’s got.. she’s easy and everyone knows exactly what she’d be like in bed. Audrey – you have to guess what’s under those clothes and under that “simply sweet” exterior. Thus, mystery trumps obviousness – Audrey wins.

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Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.
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