February 12, 2009

Why French, Spanish, and Italian women now look even better than ours

One thing that caught my attention in Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories is that in discussing how a high-carb diet, resulting in higher blood sugar levels, encourages the formation of Advanced Glycation Endproducts, he notes that collagen is particularly vulnerable to glycation.

Here's a study on rats fed lots of fructose. These collagen AGEs ends up prematurely aging your skin. And here's a study suggesting that the damage is not reversible by following a low-carb diet, although it can prevent further damage.

This is why our celebrities look so weird. By abandoning most protein and fat, they end up gorging on things that ultimately sap their flesh of its bounciness. And of course 90 minutes a day of exercise and weight training is de rigueur, so they end up having these sharp boney bodies with Saran Wrap skin draped over top.

Taubes also points out that aside from the French, who have eaten high-fat / low-carb diets for awhile, within the past several decades the Spanish, Italian, and Swiss have done so too (with attendant drops in heart disease). Now that he mentions it, when I lived in Barcelona, I noticed far many more xarcuteries than bakeries or pastry shops. So much for the Mediterranean diet --

At Whole Foods, they love to brag about how European they are -- every package says something about the contents' role in a "European tradition." But it's breads, hot chocolate, pastas, and so on. The focal points of the store are their enormous fruit and vegetable jungle, together with the bakery. There's no attention given to fatty meats at all -- lean salmon at most. (A deli worker did a triple take when I asked for the entire 2.8-pound stick of genoa salami.)

Back in the Mediterranean, for example in the vast grocery section of the Spanish superstore El Corte Ingles, the crowning glory is the meat and cheese section, as the above pictures hint at, only it's more dazzling.

French, Spanish, and Italian women are better looking than Anglo women for genetic reasons, owing to different selection pressures (such as pathogen load, which leads to greater selection for good genes). But as though that weren't enough, they've also got superior diets to help slow the aging of their skin, and of their bodies in general.

A corrollary is that good looks in America are much more reliable signals of having good genes, since we eat a more uglifying diet than the French, and so have our genes put to a stronger test. Some fraction of ugly or average-looking women in France have their ugly genes masked by the effect of their diet. It's like in India, where the strong test is pathogen load -- anyone who comes out of that hellhole looking good has been genetically blessed, without a doubt.


  1. "...(such as pathogen load, which leads to greater selection for good genes)."
    You mean genes good at producing that which defends against the pathogens particular to that environment. How, if at all, this is related to good looks, is another question. Swedish girls look good to me.

  2. I don't know specifically about Whole Foods, but meats usually are not particularly profitable for supermarkets. Most often they arrive from suppliers in large pieces and have to be cut up in the stores. That's a labor-intensive process, and unlike most supermarket work requires relatively skilled and well-paid workers.


  3. The meats at Whole Foods are expensive enough that I imagine they make a profit on them.

    Some European products you missed that do support a high-fat diet are the Icelandic (and Irish) butter along with all of those nice cheeses. And high-fat Greek yogurt. Outside of dairy products it definitely gets thin, though.

    Christopher - the general theory about pathogen load is that in an environment with lots of diseases, it becomes more important to signal that you are disease-free (or disease-resistant), and to the extent that good looks are such a signal they will be more selected for.

  4. Bbartlog. Right, thanks. Lots to read.

  5. Celebrities, specifically female celebrities, really do look weird. I'd always wondered why. This seems like a plausible explanation.

  6. Excessive carbs, especially HFCS is a real dietary problem here in the states. Healthy fats have definitely gotten a bad rap, though many of these are not of animal origin either. When selecting animal products it is much more important to consider organic and free range due to biomagnification of toxins in animals than in plants. Also carbs are not all equal. The biggest problem carbs are the refined ones found in most processed foods. Whole grain carbs are far healthier. Good post here. American nutrition (dis)information is difficult to wade through as there are so many commercial influences touting their wares, and rarely is the whole picture presented.

  7. The idea that complex carbs or any whole grains are somehow healthy betrays an understanding of the science. Any carbohydrate that is not a fiber is going to be turned into a sugar, whether it be glucose or not.

    Saturated fat is among the healthiest fats one can eat, especially saturated fat from animals. You want to eat meat with fat on it. You want to eat with gobs of butter or ghee. "Rabbit starvation" was a term coined by American explorers who quickly realized that living on lean game is somewhere between unhealthy and fatal. Up to 30% of hunter gatherers got 65-70% of their diet from animals fat and they were among the strongest humans who've ever lived.

  8. I think I may have found something better than butter, which I can't have -- coconut milk. Per serving, it has 12 g of fat, and 10 g are saturated.

    Wikipedia says that saturated fats as a fraction of all fats are higher for coconut milk than for lard, butter, or tallow. Baby. We'll see how this stuff tastes.

  9. Isn't pathogen load high in sub-Saharan Africa?

  10. Yes, and Africans (by ancestry) lead in 'good genes'. For one this shows up in higher bilateral symmetry.

    Black African women aren't considered more attractive, but this isn't for lack of 'good genes,' which work in their favor, rather the self-sufficient females disproportionately directed sexual selection. So both African males and females are biased in the direction of masculinization, because of strong female choice.

    The world "sweet spot" for female beauty is the Mediterranean region -- the "jealousy belt" -- where there was just the right ecological balance of pathogen load and female dependency (i.e. male directed sexual selection) to sculpt sexy women.

    This is where we find the faces that are capable of launching 1000 ships.

  11. And remember, I used pathogen load to account for variation among regional populations like Italians vs. English.

    If you look at Nigerian or Ethiopian women compared to Bushmen or Herero women (below the Zambezi River), there's a similar difference.

    So, if we measured a regional pop's pathogen load and its attractiveness, the latter would increase as a function of the former. But we'd see continental clustering -- perhaps the African cluster would be below the European cluster.

    This is because pathogen load isn't the whole story. Europeans must have been blessed by other selective pressures. But within each continental cluster, and overall, we'd see a positive relationship.

  12. 1) Gregory Clarke wrote in Farewell to Arms that European used to be a filthy bunch, very non-hygenic.

    More non-hygenic peoples are more vulnerable to diseases too. Maybe it's good to compare places where diseases struck most. I know the Plague hit Scandinavia pretty hard during Medieval times. That's not the same as high pathogen load, but bad hygene doesn't help.

    2) Is there a distinction between sexyness and beauty in women? (I mean from an evolutionary perspective. Does it matter to men if women are more sexy or more beautiful?)

    Nude models like Katie Price (when she was younger) arouse a lot of lust in males -- compared to say more beautiful, near perfect-looking women like Julia Roberts (in her younger years.)

    English women are not very beautiful on average, but they sure have a lot of those horny Katie Price looking bombshells. Spanish-looking women are not known for that. The sex industry seems to prefer the Nordic/Scandinavian blonde bimbos over the more beautiful Italian and Spanish women.

  13. Throughout medieval and early modern times, English women were considered the most beautiful in Europe, thanks to their fair skin and hair, the latter of which could not then be achieved by artificial methods.

    The white-blond hair of Scandinavians, however, as opposed to the golden or gold-brown hair of English women, was not considered very attractive until modern times. I'm not certain why, but perhaps it looked too albino-like.

    Right up to the 1930s, men tended to rhapsodize about the beauty of English women. I suspect this may have been because they were thinking of aristocratic (not just rich) women, whom I've read are noticeably more beautiful - much taller, slenderer, more even features, and good teeth. That's one instance of female beauty that probably really was the result of selective breeding.

    Inherited status doesn't automatically make women more beautiful, either. High-caste women in India were often fat; I don't know whether this is still true.


  14. High-caste women in India are smoking, even more so when raised in in a more salubrious climate.

    English women could have looked very different in Medieval times -- skull shape in England has changed perceptibly since that time.

    And if it was the aristocracy who looked great, they were genetically replaced by the nation of shopkeepers.

    I'd have to look at a portrait gallery, but from memory, the only good-looking Englishwoman from hundreds of years ago was Anne Boleyn. Jean Shrimpton is about the only modern exception. (Elizabeth Hurley is half-Irish.) Not a coincidence that both are brunette.

  15. Agnostic--RE: British Women

    What about Sienna Miller, Kate Beckinsale and Cheryl Cole...easily three of the most beautiful women in the entertainment business--all British...and all classically beautiful: face, coloring, etc.

    I think there are quite a few beautiful English actresses. Rachel Weisz as well...although she is actually Hungarian and Austrian and first generation British.

    Although I do love a lot of Spanish actresses--Paz Vega and Penelope Cruz are both spectacularly attractive.

  16. PS--I will note also that on almost any message board you find about Cheryl or the band, people inevitably start asking if she is another nationality because she does not look very "British" but more Spanish or even Middle Eastern...so I guess that makes sense why I would think she is your type.

    She is ridiculously gorgeous and I think in videos and interviews comes off very feminine--she doesn't photograph as feminine looking as she actually looks in real life...if that makes sense.

    Try to catch a youtube of her in an interview, singing, or hosting X-Factor that is recent...you will see what I mean.

  17. I am just coming back here...but I wanted to mention that in terms of beauty--I too find more feminine women beautiful. Feminine features and good bone structure are a great combination. Actually feminine features without good bone structure are almost as unattractive as masculine features.

    The way you love Audrey Hepburn is kind of how I love Catherine Deneuve and Rita Hayworth in their heyday. Gorgeous, feminine, beautiful women.

    Many of my favorite actresses who have that look are French...and strangely quite a few are Canadian or French Canadian (Evangeline Lilly etc.)

    I find the masculine female sex symbols really unattractive.

    I never got the Fergie/Angelina/Jen Aniston, etc. appeal.

    But I think most of the younger American celebrity sex symbols in their 20s are getting more feminine.

    Ok just babbling...I love discussing female beauty because I love it. :)

  18. Cheryl Cole is ridiculously gorgeous? You need to get out more! Compared to Jean Shrimpton she is homely. Jean Shrimpton was preposterously gorgeous. Her features were so wonderfully unique, innocent and fresh coupled with a shy sexiness. Her eyes are unmatched, even by Elizabeth Taylor, another Brit. And let's not forget the wonderful eyes of Princess Diana. Jean Shrimpton was the ultimate beauty. I am biased also because I share some of her facial traits. But she was known as the prettiest girl in the world, a title given to only one other: Elizabeth Taylor. Both Brits! So there goes your theory that English women aren't that hot.

  19. A higher protein lower carb diet will keep your body looking nice and slim however it wreaks havoc on your face. (Jennifer Aniston is one celebrity that is known to follow such a diet and her face shows the effects.)

    I am a woman, and I have followed such a diet in the past. My body looked the best it ever has but my face was producing much more oil, my pores became much more noticeable on my face and my face lost that freshness and radiant look that I have normally. Also my hair became very oily.

    My experience is that all of the fat and protein you are consuming if your are following a high protein low carb diet, does make it's way out of your body in the form of more oily skin and hair. Not a good look.

    I believe that such a diet also impacts your hormone functioning raising male hormones in the female body.

    However, this is the only diet that works to strip off the fit efficiently and rather quickly.

  20. ...strip off the "fat" etc.

  21. Latin women are the prettiest and sexiest of all women: tis includes Spain, Italy, France, Portuguese, and the various lands which the Explorers conquered in Latin America(Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, etc.)
    Even though the Nordic and Anglo women can be pretty, their sexiness is marginal in looks. This can be compared to the Latin women being HOT and the othewr woman being cold. This can perhaps be related to their lands of origin: Latin lands are hot and Anglo/Nordic lands are cold.So it is written.

  22. Why do you only mention the attractiveness of women in your article? Please say something about the effects of the French, Spanish, and Italian diets on men in comparison to those of the American diet.

  23. Hey what's with the bashing of the northern europeans here??? As someone of predominately English ancestry I consider myself quite attractive....not to brag or anything. And what about Scandinavian women? Is it just me or do their women all look like super models? What about Heidi Klum or Diane Kruger who actually did play the woman to launch 1000 ships or whatever in the movie Troy. Just sayin....

  24. Oh and Emma Watson who is sooo gorgeous, at least in my opinion.

  25. Oh and Scarlett Johansson, probably one of the most sensuous women ever, of northern european extraction. Y'all are crazy! I'm gonna stop now lol.

  26. I drink home squeezed OJ with a little bit of refined sugar in it, combined with either extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil.

    I sip it throughout the day, only as I feel my energy level needs it. Sugars=short term energy, fats=long term. The fats in the oils prevent blood sugar spikes,which in turn prevents insulin spike.

    Also not drinking it all at once helps. Lots of people turn into fatfucks when they have more sugar than they need,like when gorging on ice cream or pie, with no fatty counterbalance.

    I also eat a lot of raw eggs and avocado. Raw eggs=Filled to the brim with all the shit you need(drain the whites out).

    I have meat usually three times a month, bison mixed with garlic. All those foods are good for testosterone and healthy fats.

  27. An older women who follows the high fat diet and is quite stunning looking in her mid fifties is Nigella lawson. She looks closer to her late 20's than 50 something and has a great hourglass figure to boot!! http://www.gotceleb.com/nigella-lawson-at-book-launch-barnes-noble-in-new-york-2013-02-13.html/nigella-lawson-at-barnes-and-noble-book-launch-03


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