New post on the SciAm Guest Blog – on the mores of makeup

For today’s Scientific American Guest Blog post, Christine Ottery interviewed Mark Changizi. The result is this piece: The mores of makeup. Enjoy, comment, share…

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2 responses to “New post on the SciAm Guest Blog – on the mores of makeup

  1. I have to say, I’m not that impressed.

    Another part of Changizi’s theory is that us humans have evolved to be mostly naked, with dense fur only occurring where it isn’t important to anticipating different states your fellow humans are in: on the top of the head, under the arms and between the legs. Another part of Changizi’s theory is that us humans have evolved to be mostly naked, with dense fur only occurring where it isn’t important to anticipating different states your fellow humans are in: on the top of the head, under the arms and between the legs.

    1. So, not knowing the state of what’s between the legs isn’t important if the individual in question is female? Not buying it.

    2. So it is an evolutionary advantage for men to conceal the state of their face with face fur? Not *entirely* sure I buy that, either.

    3. Hasn’t there been some intriguing research that, even in humans, the smelly bits may be kind of important in communicating messages about health, emotional state, etc., and the smelly bits tend to be (perhaps with the exception of the top of the head) the hairy ones?

    It’s another interesting “what if…” question at risk of becoming yet another “just so” story, but it leaves some fairly important things unaccounted for, I feel. It is absolutely the case that we take a lot of cues from skin, but that this is what it “evolved for”? I think he might be getting a little overenthusiastic about this as an answer.

  2. Christine Ottery

    You have some good points here, Luna, especially your conclusion.

    But Changizi’s theory is a theory of how colour vision evolved and so doesn’t necessarily explain all skin functions apart from the colour ones, I think. On the theory about pheromones and curlies – do you have a ref for me? I don’t know enough to reply directly on this.

    I do think, though, that genitalia could be a curious exception to his theory? This is just me riffing here, but they gets red/purple/brown or whatever when engorged. Is the hair to hide it? Or if someone is intimate enough with you then will they be close enough to see past the hair? Is this why a Brazilian waxing craze is sweeping the West. (I doubt it.)

    On your second point, the really colourful bits of men’s faces aren’t covered in beard, generally – cheeks, nose etc.