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Beauty in the Minds of Beholders

December 07, 1986

In the first excerpt from his book "Why Men Are the Way They Are" (Nov. 30), Warren Farrell appears to argue that male attraction for female beauty is created by advertising and other forms of socialization. It is not. The attraction response is built in to the male brain. It is a physiological and chemical response to certain kinds of visual clues. Women show a comparable response to images of babies and young children. I was attracted to the prettiest girl in my fourth grade class two years before our family bought a television set and when the sexiest item on my reading list was Boys Life.

Advertising may exploit the male response, may manipulate and direct it to some extent, and may exacerbate the problems it leads to, just as mothers may urge their sons to value women for virtues other than beauty. But it wasn't advertising that launched those thousand ships after Helen of Troy. Or that has kept the human race from becoming extinct.

PHILIP BLACKMARR

Pasadena

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