Sex appeal sells. I know this fact very well, and yet, the awareness of this fact does little to stop me from watching a movie simply because it stars an actress that I think is very attractive. The movie’s storytelling may be cliche. Hell, all the actors in the movie may be lousy performers for all I care but subconsciously, I eagerly await the pretty actress to appear on stage.
So yes, sex sells. But why? And how does it do so effectively?
While we’re on that subject, let’s dig a bit deeper. For sex appeal to be effective, I would have to agree that what I’m subjected to is sexy. If I deemed that actress unattractive, I wouldn’t have cared at all to watch the movie. But I did find her attractive. More than that, so did the several million other people who watched the movie. This is too uncanny for it to be a coincidence.
Of course, there will be many, many instances in which I and another person will disagree on the beauty of an actor/actress but more often than not, there is no contention. We point our fingers at the actress on the screen, smile, and nod that she is indeed pretty. The movie would be a bore to watch without her.
I’m especially surprised by this fact when this accord occurs between me and another person of totally different culture and background. The standard of beauty is supposed to be different for all cultures, and in many ways, it is, but somehow, it is all too likely for a middle-class Korean-American raised by Christian parents to agree with a lower-class dark-skinned Cuban-European raised in the foster care system that yea, she’s beautiful.
Somehow, unbeknownst to all of us, we are being told what is beautiful and what is not. We can no longer pinpoint a specific source. Even though no one specifically told me to like a certain physical attribute, even though I have tried so hard all this time to define beauty in my own way, the sociological and psychological forces around me have poisoned my mind and heart.
I tell myself that I find beauty in fat, that dark skin is sensual, that I can decide for myself what is beautiful for me, but then that actress appears on the screen and I’m mesmerized, despite the fact that she has all the physical attributes I promised myself that I wouldn’t conform to liking.
The more I realize this socialization, the better I am able to define beauty on my own terms, but for the most part, beauty has been already defined and standardized. I’m forced to agree in many situations. This is a scary thing, that my hearts beats faster, and the decision to do so was not my own.