Most of the comments on my last post addressed the postscript at the end about beauty standards rather than the stuff about games. I guess beauty is inherently more interesting than games? Or at least amateur beauty theory is more compelling than amateur game theory.
First, teens in Southeast Asia start getting "black market braces" to signal status and affluence. Now schoolgirls in Japan are getting fake snaggleteeth. I've got a natural snaggletooth. It's not a bug, it's a feature! My teeth are mostly quite straight from having braces from ages 12 to 14 or so, but the incisor next to my canine on the top right has gone slowly haywire. By college it had rotated enough to occasionally catch on my lip. My ex called it "the fang."
There are features that one convinces oneself no one notices. Three or four people had to comment that they found the snaggletooth cute before I started to think of it as one of my "things," though I'm still not really sure how salient it is. Some people fetishize quirky teeth (Chris Tonelli once told me he loves Patricia Arquette's). Chris "I like you unconditionally" Starkey once called it "my flavor." I seem to remember he physically touched my tooth with his finger when he said it. I sometimes wonder, do most people not notice it? Do some people notice and find it secretly gruesome?
By the way, I found that snaggletooth link on The Beheld, the marvelous blog of Autumn Whitefield-Madrano. Her weekly link roundup does for beauty what Fritinancy does for branding/wordnikhood.
The night I met John, he was wearing a navy sweater with a big toothpaste stain on the front. I remember noticing the stain and thinking, "I really, really approve of that." (That's a line from a Tao Lin story.) You see, I thought it signaled nonchalance. Like, "I'll wear a sweater with a stain on the front to a birthday party, I don't give a shit." Later I found out he didn't know it was there when he left the house. He noticed it in the bathroom mirror and was mortified.
Another thing Chris T. said once: "Amy King's crotch is like great architecture." Can I repeat that? He meant in jeans, from a distance, nothing pornographic.
Have you seen the movie Beautiful Girls? It came out when I was in high school, I remember, but I only just watched it this week. Timothy Hutton plays a struggling piano player from NYC going back to his small hometown for his high school reunion. Most of his old friends still live there, blue-collaring it up (a couple of them drive snowplows) and drinking a lot of beer. They are all afraid to grow up and variously unsatisfied with their girlfriends who don't look enough like supermodels, etc. Hutton's character is sort of in love with the 13-year-old girl who lives next door (played by Natalie Portman). There's a cartoonish scene (the one pictured above) where all the guys are hanging out in the local inn and Uma Thurman, playing the bartender's cousin, walks in. They go all ga-ga and gooey-tongued when she talks to them. In my experience, men never really act like that. Much in the same way that women are trained to pretend they don't know they're attractive, I suspect most adult men learn (when in mixed, polite company) not to reveal how attracted they are (or are not) to women. I even see elements of "pickup artist" culture, where men are vaguely hostile to attractive women, though it's more common that they simply appear indifferent. Of course, this could be regional, my own blind spot, etc. But I find it difficult to believe that Uma Thurman (in a universe where Uma Thurman is not a famous actress), dressed in regular old street clothes, would really turn every head in the room and cause jaws to spontaneously drop open. I've just never seen that happen in the real world, and I've seen some very beautiful women.
Have you seen that project where celebrities are made to look like normal people, i.e. fatter and with worse hair, makeup and clothing? Beyonce and Jay-Z look pretty cool anyway, but in general I think it illustrates how much of beauty or at least "hotness" is about style and perception and stuff you can buy.
Sort of relatedly, I always think it's weird when a character in a TV show is supposed to be super-attractive, like so much so that the other characters are sitting up and taking notice and talking about it. Because everyone on TV is attractive! It breaks the fourth wall in this weird way. Like I'm supposed to believe that in TV land, people can distinguish and agree upon the difference between this actress who is incrementally more attractive than all the other actresses (a 9.1 as opposed to a 9)? Please.