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Health: The New Sex Symbol

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Health: The New Sex Symbol

By Pilar Gerasimo, Experience Life

To say that healthiness and sexiness are connected is, in many ways, to understate the obvious.

It’s widely recognized, of course, that many conspicuous elements of physical attractiveness — things like shiny hair, clear eyes, smooth skin, a fit body — have their natural roots in physiological health. And yet, both the true depth and complexity of the connection between good health and perceived sexiness remain largely undersold.

In reality, it would be virtually impossible to overstate the profusion of health factors that play a role in what we think of as “sex appeal.” Scientific studies have demonstrated that everything from miniscule variations in body symmetry to the concentrations of various hormones in our bloodstream can affect whether or not we are perceived as attractive to others.

In fact, there are whole realms of scientific inquiry around the theory of “sexual selection,” which concerns itself primarily with establishing the ways in which the fitness-seeking mating habits of our own and other species have guided social behavior, sexual competition and genetic evolution.

Whether we like it or not, the state of our organ, endocrine and circulatory systems, our nervous and immune systems, our fertility — even the quality of our DNA — are constantly being broadcast to others by a variety of discernable (though sometimes invisible) physical characteristics. And we humans are far more sensitive at reading and responding to these variations, often on subconscious levels, than most of us would ever suspect.

To properly catalog and explain the myriad ways in which healthiness and sexiness intersect would be a giant and overwhelming endeavor. Charles Darwin only got a start on the fundamentals in his massive book, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (originally published in 1871), and since then, the scientific literature has expanded significantly. In just the last 25 years, the fields of evolutionary biology and psychology have themselves evolved dramatically, and our understanding of the dynamics of our own physiology has become considerably more detailed.

Of course, one doesn’t need an encyclopedia of sexiness to observe and understand that good health is powerfully attractive. Still, it’s a shame, really, that such a detailed and contemporary compendium isn’t more accessible in a user-friendly format, because — let’s face it — sex sells. If something promises to make us more appealing to others, in general, we want it.

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

25 comments

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8:38AM PST on Dec 17, 2009

Great article! And definitley true!

12:40AM PST on Dec 14, 2009

Be away from those let you suffer, . Be healthy

2:52PM PST on Dec 13, 2009

I liked the article! Thank you :)

10:05AM PST on Dec 11, 2009

Sorry Teresa I disagree, I don't find anything disgusting about sex.

12:41AM PST on Dec 10, 2009

There is too much sex in contemporary culture. I agree that health itself is good, but why confuse it with such disgusting things as sex?!

6:13PM PST on Dec 8, 2009

Well we must be evolving some mental characterics as well. But environment probably is a factor such as in certain times a conquering heathen may be preferable than others. In times when the world is deteriorating there may be some more unconventioanl selective characteristics. In times when a global vision versus nationalism is needed there may be a preference for more openess and daring perhaps.

6:35AM PST on Dec 8, 2009

Aisha-I don't believe that an attractive partner should be shunned or not pursued--why? If they're with you, they're with you--who cares if other people want them? Have enough self esteem and self respect to know that they're with you because they like you and not everyone else!

I'm still gravitating towards the thighs--many women have an issue/obsession with thin thighs and many men (even those with potbellies) have thin thighs compared to most females.

8:57PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

I also agree that healthiness & sexiness are like 2 sides of a coin. We should take both of them simultaneously.

6:23PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

i gave up grog, sex and fags-it was the worst 5 minutes of my life!

2:51PM PST on Dec 7, 2009

I'd love to hear more about this , especially things that we don't realize are indicators of good health we find attractive . This article mainly addressed attractive features we perceive with visual and olfactory senses , what about sound and taste and touch ? How do those affect our attraction . We know they do but why ?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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I agree that generally, people want to be with people who are like themselves. I know I do. Takes a …

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