“We do have data from Japan that are highly suggestive.  Here, for many centuries, fair skins have been under parental control and, other things being equal, parents seek attractive brides for their sons.  As elsewhere, members of the upper classes tend to be the luckiest.  This might be expected to lead to selection as the generations have gone by.  Research which I conducted a few years ago (Hulse 1967) indicated that this has taken place, for upper-class high school students have the fairest skins and those of the lower class the darkest, while middle-class students are intermediate in pigmentation.  Furthermore, data from Greece (Friedl 1962) indicate that girls who are considered good-looking marry earlier than, and need not be supplied with as large a dowry as, their less-attractive sisters.  Throughout southern Europe, the upper classes contain a disproportionate number of blondes and near-blondes.  Sexual preferences, though they may be based on social snobbery rather than aesthetic interest, are capable of shifting allele frequencies in human population.”  (Hulse, F.S. (1978) Group selection and sexual selection in human evolution.  In Evolutionary Models and Studies in Human Diversity (Hague) Meier, R., Otten, C. M., Abdel-Hameed, F. (eds.), Moulton Publisher, Paris, p. 33)

There is an odd and pervasive connection among 1) the attraction to fairer complected potential mates 2) the attraction to children with neotenous features 3) racism with a rejection of darker-skinned peoples.

This website often focuses on the power of the concept of neoteny to inform our understanding of human evolution, specific diseases, conditions such as autism, and the unfolding of contemporary trends in societal transformation.  A case could also be made that our hormonal compulsion to select mates that display the features of a child could be influencing societal behaviors such as racism and which countries a nation chooses to ally with.

Upper classes in both the East and West, those individuals with access to resources and potential mates across a wide geographic area, have often chosen mates with light complexions.  This might not just be an arbitrary selection of features born of a desire to separate or stratify populations into classes.  Provided an opportunity to exercise choice, particularly in an elite culture where choice can afford to be encouraged, neotenous demands may evidence themselves by influencing mate choice in a direction such that childlike features emerge.  We’re talking blond hair, blue eyes, light skin, a display of naïve or childlike behaviors and innocence.  A childlike feature might be short (but not stocky) or tall (but lanky).  If a person is being selected for being childlike, that person might be unusually creative, effortlessly social and affectionate.

In other pieces on this website (click here), I’ve discussed the hypothetical influence of diet on human social evolution and how social structures transform according to several hormone-related influences.  I’ve hypothesized that the increase in fat in human diets not only possibly dramatically reduces puberty but powerfully informs the features of our children.  High-fat diets increase the testosterone and estrogen levels of women but lower the testosterone levels of men.  This site details a dynamic whereby changes in these hormone levels actually change the physical and behavioral constellations of our children.

Consider that high-fat diets went first to the aristocracies, upper classes and elites.  These upper echelons then proceeded to behave like people whose endocrine systems had been modified to focus on neotenous features, the features of children.  It is the hypothesis of this work that males and females with high estrogen will pick mates exhibiting childlike features.  So, not only do fat-influenced bodies and behaviors give birth to progeny with bodies and behaviors reflecting what their parents ate, but people with the desired bodies and behaviors are selected as mates to enter the elite procreation pool that manifests childlike features.

In very few generations the elites of a society can likely manifest a number of neotenous features, informed fundamentally by diet and mate-selection criteria.

Racism and classism has been buttressed by a belief by the elites that nuanced understandings are only to be achieved by those with education, wealth and the height afforded by higher stations.  There may be some truth in the suggestion that the wealthy, as a population, are more discriminating.  High estrogen hypothetically hypothetically confers a compulsion to judge, evaluate and compare.  It may be no mistake that the lower classes and ethnic minorities feel judged by those with more.

Influenced by diet, the upper classes may not know how not to judge.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009 at 7:29 am and is filed under Estrogen, Neoteny, Sexual Selection, Society. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
2 Comments so far

  1. Tetsuya Sellers on January 29, 2010 1:59 am

    Interesting theory. I think, more dirrectly, childish features also result from the lifestyles themselves, where the aristocrats of yesterday or American consumers of today can spoil and indulge themselves at their leisure. Eric Fromm called the marketting mode “infantile.” Both the aristocrats and modern consumers are also heavily immage oriented, as their interactions with the world get more and more remote (facebook replaceing direct interaction.) Its common to here throuout history of commentators complaining about how hardworking and austere their ancestors were (mature) and now the current generation spends that work with abandon on style, material comforts, and immage (adolescent and childish.)

  2. Arkor on February 17, 2013 6:30 am

    There was once a study that showed that baby-faced black men were hired more often.

    I think though it’s unfair to some people this bias ultimately stems from a good place. A young person who has childish features is likely physically younger than his age as well and so less aged and more likely to live longer.

    Also for many in the elite adult life is a lot like what children play pretend about in terms of fun and excitement. Those of the elite who truly enjoy their undertakings are the happiest and most successful and have the luxury of thinking more like children since they don’t require a work mode or activate it only rarely since their ‘work’ is their play.

    Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we were all working and being productive but we all enjoyed our jobs just like we were children at play? It may be that creating such a society is far off, but the possibility to pursue one’s dreams and to get to such a state is a good and these childlike elites are lighting the way. Life can be endless joy. We all have this potential if we realize it. It’s really just a state of mind but one that opens up so many possibilities.

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