"Kissing versus bacon? Honestly, I don't know which I'd choose." - Optimistic.
Question #89931 posted on 06/18/2017 11:50 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

One thing I noticed while attending BYU was how the number of times a girl gets asked out on dates correlates exponentially with physical attractiveness. One friend of mine has a very cute face and an hourglass figure. Men flock to her. Her whole time at BYU, she averaged three dates a week and had a least a dozen men actively pursuing her at a given time. I also had a moderately attractive female friend who averaged one date per month. Not a ton of action, but she did end up dating one of them seriously and last month they got married. Finally, I know another young lady who isn't that good-looking at all. She attended BYU for five years and never got asked out once. Of course, there are plenty of outliers to this phenomenon: being outgoing and flirtatious drastically increases a woman's chances of getting asked out too.

I recently described this phenomenon to a friend and fellow BYU alumna, and she said boys were too shallow. I told her that, to a great extent, physical beauty is a choice. Women can make themselves more appealing by getting in good shape, because being overweight or obese is a huge turn-off for men. She thought for a second, and told me "honestly...I think that's mostly just true for Mormon boys. I've dated non-members before and they never cared about a few extra pounds." I've since discussed this same topic with other female YSAs and they agree: LDS men have an undo fixation with physical fitness when it comes to dating in marriage.

Have any of you noticed this phenomenon? What do you think causes it?


A-DAWG





A:

Dear person,

When I was an undergrad, I went on one date a semester, although sometimes I went on two or three, maybe four. I am/was "overweight", but for a few years during an undergrad I had an eating disorder that made me thin. I dated much less when I was thin, a change which (so people told me) made me conventionally very attractive. Perhaps I would have dated more if I wasn't totally sick in the head. Who knows. As it turns out, I can't get into a "normal" weight range without doing things that require me to be mentally and physically very, very ill. This is likely due to the fact that I was quite obese until I left home, at which point I lost a lot of weight just by virtue of not having my family's habits anymore.

So, basically, next time you tell someone that "to a great extent, physical beauty is a choice" and that "women can make themselves more appealing by getting in good shape, because being overweight or obese is a huge turn-off for men," I hope you realize that you are talking about many things you don't understand.

-Sheebs

PS - If you are a troll, and I think there is a good chance that you are, I regret spending all that emotional energy and vulnerability on feeding you. However, hopefully my answer is meaningful to other people out there who doesn't say insensitive things just to get a rise out of people.

A:

Dear J-Dawg,

Oh, so being flirtatious and fun makes you an outlier? In your question itself, you're falling into the very pattern you're describing--you're implying that a woman's physical attractiveness is the most important factor when it comes to being asked out, and that anything else (being outgoing, flirtatious, etc) is simply a secondary factor that makes women "outliers." So just as a friendly reminder to everyone reading the Board, people are so much more than how they look.

Yes, I think a lot of LDS men are unduly concerned with outward appearances, especially the outward appearances of women. Then again, I think a lot of people are, not just LDS guys. Maybe the guys your friend dated weren't that way, but I don't think that's an inherent characteristic of people who aren't LDS, just a personal characteristic of those individuals. Also, not every Mormon guy cares about a girl's weight, either. People are individuals and make individual choices, no matter what church they participate or don't participate in. But, I'll focus on this phenomenon in BYU culture because that's what you asked about.

So, here are some things about BYU/LDS culture that might promote guys feeling more comfortable judging women's appearances:

First of all, the Church promotes a healthy lifestyle, which is great. What's not great is when people take things like the Word of Wisdom and use it to judge people who aren't super physically fit. That's by no means a common occurrence, but for some reason I've seen it a couple times at BYU.

Going along with that, there's definitely some peer pressure at BYU for men to be super fit. There's a reason why some people call Provo "Brovo," and why the gym in Provo is more overrun than literally any other gym I have ever seen anywhere else. Again, obviously this doesn't apply to everyone, but if a guy places a lot of importance on his own physical fitness, it would make sense that he would also value fitness in the person he's dating. Which is fine, everyone is allowed to make their own choices, but guys shouldn't assume that just because they personally find something attractive or unattractive it means that everyone else feels the same way, because that's when problems arise (for example, guys who say things like, "Ugh, why would anyone date her?" just because they personally wouldn't).

Another thing about Church culture that I think contributes to men who only want to date physically fit girls is the way that a lot of people in the Church feel responsible for women's' bodies in general. If you're constantly policing a girl's hemline and neckline and whether or not she wears flip flops to church, you start to feel like you're entitled to make decisions about her body. The same thing happens when we judge girls who don't meet a certain standard of morality; we feel responsible for what they do with their body. Don't get me wrong, modesty is super important, and should be taught in Church, and the same goes for chastity. But sometimes the way it's taught by individuals in the Church (not the Church itself) is pretty bad, and can contribute to random guys feeling like they should have a say in what a woman does with her body. If men feel comfortable telling a woman that her shorts aren't long enough because they're more than two finger widths above her knee, they're more likely to feel comfortable telling a woman that her body isn't good enough unless she exercises more and loses weight. Again, I'm not saying that we should stop teaching modesty and chastity, just that we should stop making it seem like they're things that women do for men's benefit, and instead emphasize how they are for our personal benefit.

TL;DR: there are lots of cultural reasons why guys at BYU might overemphasize physical attractiveness to the detriment of other important qualities, but there's tons of individual variance within that culture, and ultimately every guy makes his own decisions.

-Alta

P.S. How do you know how many dates those girls go on and how many men are pursuing them at a given time? Do you secretly stalk them? Do you gossip with your roommates about them? Are you best friends with them so they confide in you about their lives, and then you go behind their backs and call them ugly? Do you base your ideas about their dating lives on how you personally feel about them? Your question left me with a lot of questions.

A:

Dear lowseph,

You realize the only LDS males you're sampling are college-aged and only at one particular college? And that the sample only includes guys who feel confident enough in themselves to ask girls out? From my experience, that doesn't seem to be very representative of the whole population. 

I'm not saying you're wrong, just that your research methods are lacking, so I would be careful to make conclusions. 

Take care,

-Auto Surf

A:

Dear Aaron or Angela, 

Your question rubs me the wrong way for a few reasons, so I just want to get on my soapbox for a minute before answering your actual question. First of all, the implication is that all men (or at least all LDS men) have a set scale of attractiveness for women, and that all men consider skinniness a prerequisite to beauty, both of which are untrue. Secondly, I object to the idea that women ought to exercise and stay healthy so men will find them more attractive, because that point of view is both damaging and offensive. Thirdly, I don't appreciate the characterization of women as passive when it comes to dating, just waiting for some man to come validate them. No thank you. And lastly, while cultivating physical beauty may be a choice, I resent the implication that it's a choice women should be making, because I like the way I look without wearing makeup, doing my hair, or exercising regularly, and it's not my problem if other people disagree. I live my life in a way that makes me happy, and I don't need the approval of anyone else.

But as to your question, I think it's true that attractive women get asked out more than average, but I think it's true more universally than just at BYU, and it's not just because men are shallow. I believe confidence is one of the most attractive qualities a person can have, regardless of gender, because a confident person is more likely to act like himself or herself, and when you act like yourself you're going to seem more attractive and interesting than someone who seems timid or uncomfortable when people pay attention to them.

Unfortunately, I think in modern society attractive women are more likely to be confident, and that's probably a huge factor in their dating statistics. Of course, it isn't the only factor, and that alone is far from explaining why some women get asked out more than others. But a correlation between perception of attractiveness and confidence is, in my opinion, much more important than physical beauty alone. Because yes, obviously people want to date someone who they find attractive. But they also want to date someone fun and interesting, and it's hard to seem fun or interesting to others if you don't see yourself that way.

Love,

Luciana