Bad news, ladies.
Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, says that hot guys are slowly dying out. According to research collected over a 53-year period, beautiful people are more likely to bear daughters, so as women populate the earth the likelihood that the pretty ones will pass on their "attractiveness" genes to sons decreases.
If this research sounds odd, confusing, or plain offensive, just bare with us here.
Kanazawa, who previously claimed that unfaithful men have a lower I.Q., tracked data from a survey of 17,000 babies born in Britain in March 1958. At age seven, teachers rated the attractiveness of the subjects.
When they turned 45, subjects were asked about the genders of their offspring. Subjects noted as attractive tended to have daughters, while those who were rated as unattractive tended to bear sons.
Kanazawa supplements his theory with another controversial "tenet" of human evolution: since parents tend to pass on their most beneficial genes, and physical beauty is more useful to women than to men, a beautiful mother will pass on her characteristics to daughters. Similarly, couples who aren't so blessed in the looks department but who are athletic will pass on the traits of strength and aggression to sons, who benefit more from those genes.
While Kanazawa's study has attracted some debate, his findings aren't completely original.
A study conducted with 2,000 Americans suggested that women are evolving to become more attractive, as pretty women have more children than average-looking ones, and a higher proportion of those children are female. If anything, his research suggests that the reason hot guys may be declining is that beauty genes are wasted when passed on to sons rather than daughters.
Still, there are a number of other reasons why Kanazawa's theory is iffy.
Firstly, the attractiveness of subjects was rated when they were age seven, and cute kids don't necessarily grow into cute adults. Secondly, beauty standards change over time and vary with culture. For instance, many American women see tan skin as beautiful, while most Asian women value a pale complexion.
In the 1920s, American women bound their breasts to appear more flat-chested, while contemporary society considers a voluptuous bosom more beautiful. If Kanazawa's theory holds, are women passing down traits that will be considered less desirable within the next century and across nearby continents?
Let's test his idea on celebrities, who often become public figures because of their distinct physical beauty.
Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have two daughters. Tina Knowles had Beyoncé and Solange. Demi Moore and Bruce Willis have three daughters, as do Matt Damon and Luciana Barroso, who has another daughter from a previous relationship.
On the other hand, David and Victoria Beckham, both noted for their glamorous appearance, bore sons. The late Princess Diana also had sons, but Kanazawa could argue that this was the case because Prince Charles isn't considered "handsome."
As far as practical applications go, society has a long history of favoring sons over daughters as well as beautiful women over plain ones, so it's unfortunate that studies like this perpetuate the idea that a woman's worth lies chiefly in her appearance, fertility, and propensity for bearing boys.