Opposites Attract: College Students

     Beauty does not have a simple textbook definition. Ask 20 people what they believe is beautiful or attractive, and you will very likely receive 20 different responses. The problem is that as a community, we don’t talk about beauty enough. Beauty has become defined by images, and more often than not, these images are fictitious depictions of men and women. It is not enough to see beauty. There must be discussion because our vision is so clouded by an endless trail of stimulus that tells us what beauty should be. It’s a one-sided lecture ignoring the voices of the majority, preventing us from seeing beauty when it is clear in front of us.

 University of Colorado student says "confidence" is what she finds most attractive in men.

University of Colorado student says "confidence" is what she finds most attractive in men.

     When I decided to document what women and men find attractive about their counterpart, I had a vision of creating a video collage of responses, showing people looks are only a factor of beauty, and inner beauty is so much more important than we think. However, as I talked to students at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, I saw that my story line was changing. These videos and analysis are something I wish to continue to create and diversify for the rawest, most accurate depiction of attraction. Without further pause, let’s get to the results…

The Experiment

     I asked women the question, “What do you find most attractive about men?” Sometimes I alternated “attractive” for “beautiful” and “men” for the “opposite sex”. Men were asked the same question about women. No respondent was granted ample time to think of their answer. Once in front of the camera, they had to share the first answer that came to mind. This, hopefully, ensured their answer to the question was as pure and honest as possible.

Women and Attraction

      Men, your physical appearance is not your virtue. The majority of women in this project are attracted to a man’s personality and behavior. Even those who revealed their physical attraction were just as likely to share a non-physical trait as well. So, to all the men who use a sunshine day as an excuse to walk around half-naked, and to all the men who aspire to be like the former, we women really do not care. Sure, you may catch an extended gaze, maybe even a compliment we will never actually share with you, but if your conversation skills and gallant behavior are subpar, all you will be is that chiseled man I briefly walked past that one day.

     There is a saying wise mothers tell their daughters as soon as boys voices start dropping and girls bodies begin to show their first curves: watch how a man treats his mother, or sister. A woman wants to be loved, respected, and cared for as a man would do for his mother. This, is what women are attracted to, and this is what makes men beautiful.

     As far as what women find physically attractive about men, I’m sorry to be the one to tell you it’s genetically out of your hands, boys. Women like smiles and eyes, some may prefer a certain height. Everyone is born with their own definition of beauty, and that in itself is a beautiful thing. So, flaunt what you’ve got, because if you don’t have a sense of humor, you really never stood a chance anyway.

Men and Attraction

     Compared to the women, the men more often defined beauty and attraction by what they could see. Physical features, like hair and eyes, were frequent responses. However, it must also be noted, that like the women, the traits men saw as beautiful are innate. When men said “hair” was beautiful, the did not specify the color, style, or texture. This is valuable information because some women spend thousands of dollars on cosmetics and hair, face, and body maintenance annually. So, why spend one hundred, or even several hundred, dollars on the goop that surrounds the eyes. Some may argue that it’s the goop (i.e. makeup) that draws attention to eyes, or makes the eyes pop, but realize that makeup was not what men stated as attractive.

     Attractions men seek which are unrelated to physicality are simply things that factor into friendship. Men want women they can have a conversation with. Some men find relationships to be out of the question if that strong friendship element is nonexistent. Too often we rush into relationships that are in fact more like flings, with physical lust as the only glue holding two people together. A relationship won’t grow healthily without the communication and understanding that comes with conversation.

     Men also did not mention anything about body type. It appears attraction lies in the face. If you are like me, then makeup is a strange concept, but my recommendation for women would be to emphasize the features you adore without caking on the powders, liners and shadows. One of the strongest features to enhance is the smile, so find that boy with the sense of humor you’ve been looking for and you two will never cease to find beauty in each other.