" and it made me wonder if ugly people even know they are ugly. I was just wearing shirts and a t-shirt like a normal person, and so was everyone else.She must have thought she was hot if she dressed nicely. His point was that this was how men and women were depicted. Four decades of feminism later I am reading the comedian Angela Barnes’ blog. She goes on to say: “The fact is I don’t see people in magazines who look like me. It made me think of this year’s Wimbledon ladies’ final between Sabine Lisicki and Marion Bartoli. As a normal-looking man, I find myself in a completely different position. Symmetrical features are a sign of health; a narrow waist and wide hips are a sign of fertility. But they don’t mind wrinkles or grey hair; in ancestral times, if a guy had grey hair, he was a proven survivor.I don’t see people like me playing the romantic lead or having a romantic life.” At the top of the blog is a picture of Barnes. When Bartoli won, the BBC commentator John Inverdale infamously said, “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, 'You’re never going to be a looker, you’re never going to be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’? Sure, she’s not at the very highest point on the scale – she doesn’t look like a top model. I’ve never heard any woman say anything negative about George Clooney’s grey hair. Sure, some male actors and celebrities are very good looking. In fact, you might almost say that most leading men are normal-looking blokes. Bryan Cranston, who plays the lead in Breaking Bad – he’s a normal. In The Evolution of Desire, David Buss, professor of psychology at the University of Texas, says that it all comes down to the basics of sex. Women are attracted to men who will make good providers. Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Bruce Willis, Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Martin Freeman, Tom Hanks, Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Brendan Fraser… That, they say, is because it’s an essential part of the human condition.How did we get here and why is the situation so extreme?
In the mirror they observe their faces with a new expertise, noting the downward slide of the malar fat pads, the atrophy of collagen. It’s the same all over the world, whether you’re from a poor or rich country.Why is porn all about normal-looking blokes having sex with beautiful women?It’s because the consumers of porn are, by and large, normal-looking blokes.So why don’t they turn their backs on all this va-va-voom dressing, all the make-up and high heels and beautification? Or a world in which to look normal is to look ugly, or in which I can increase my power several notches just by how I dress. Just think of John Malkovich, another normal-looking leading man. ” The Big Short, the film adaptation of Michael Lewis' book of the same name about the causes of the financial crisis, opens in UK cinemas this weekend.On being asked what he most disliked about his appearance, he said, “I don’t think about it. How will the story stack up against the greatest films about business?Sponsorship and advertising endorse conservative values. The internet has brought us porn on demand, which focuses the male gaze.And porn is a hub that radiates outwards – towards fashion, music, films and novels.The art critic John Berger famously said that, in our culture, “men act and women appear”. A sports commentator refers to a pretty woman as “not a looker”. And right now, in the second decade of the 21st century, the situation is more extreme than ever. It’s also why women are attracted to older men – men with a proven track record.He didn’t mean that women didn’t actually do anything, or that men never looked pretty. She’s somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, just like lots of women you see every day in real life. If you're a woman, a huge proportion of your role models are beautiful. And if you’re merely pretty, men feel free to comment on how un-beautiful you are. Throughout history, in other words, women are desirable when they look healthy and unblemished.As the feminist writer Ariel Levy pointed out in her book Female Chauvinist Pigs, lots of women seem to want to become pornographic versions of themselves, mainly because it works. They felt they couldn’t beat men, so they decided to join them. As Levy says, “Only 30 years ago, our mothers were 'burning their bras’ and picketing Playboy, and suddenly we were getting implants and getting the bunny logo as supposed symbols of our liberation.” And Catherine Hakim, senior research fellow of sociology at the LSE, might just agree.In her book Honey Money, she points out that, just as men in patriarchal societies have always tried to control the way women dress, so have some feminists.