Will Obama’s Healthcare Plan Make Us a Nation of Girlie Men? Part 1

Our governor here in California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, once famously used the phrase, “Don’t be girlie men!”  This phrase actually comes from a comedy show called Saturday Night Live, on which two actors played bodybuilders (people who try to make their muscles as large as possible) with strong Austrian accents, an obvious reference to former bodybuilder Schwarzenegger himself.  A “girlie man” would be a man who acted more like a woman, and it is meant as an insult in the sense that girlie men are not strong and courageous.  But does being a girlie man actually make a man more attractive to women?  New research seems to suggest that might be true, depending on where you live.  And yes, there is a connection here to healthcare (being healthy, getting medical care).  I’ll get to that in a moment.

The research, which was recently reported in the Wall Street Journal, comes from an experiment at Faceresearch.org, an online project of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.  In the experiment, nearly 5,000 women in their early to mid-20s (20 to 26, approximately) from all over the world were shown 20 pairs of men’s faces.  For each pair (each two), the women selected the picture of the man they found most attractive.  But the pairs did not show two different men but rather the same man’s face that was digitally altered (changed using computer software) to look either very masculine (manly, like a man) or more feminine (womanly, like a woman).  A more masculine face had slightly thinner (skinnier) lips, eyes that were farther apart, and/or thicker (heavier, with more hair) eyebrows (the line of hair on your face above your eyes).  The more feminine faces had slightly rounder eyes and a narrower jaw (the V-shaped, bottom part of your face that controls the lower part of your mouth).  In addition to recording the women’s preferences, the experiment also determined where the women were from by using their Internet IP address.  Your IP address is sort of your specific address on the Internet and can be used to identify your location.  The women were then grouped together by country and the “National Health Index” from the World Health Organization was calculated for each country.  The National Health Index is an indication of how healthy on average people are in different countries throughout the world.  (The “on average” part is especially important, as we’ll see in Part 2 of this post.)

After crunching the data (doing the statistical, numerical calculations), the researchers found that women from healthier countries tended to prefer the more feminine-looking men, while those from the least healthy countries preferred men who looked more masculine.

In order to control for (to eliminate the effects of, the possible bias due to) skin color and racial preferences, only white women were used in this experiment, looking at pictures of white men.  It is not clear what the results would be if they had included men and women of different races and skin colors.  However, the results are still very interesting and lead us to ask the question: Why would women from healthier countries prefer, well, girlie-looking men?  The researchers presented some possible theories, along with additional information about how a woman chooses the man she wants to have a romantic relationship with.

In Part 2 of this post, I’ll tell you what the researchers’ theories were and how all of this relates to President Obama’s health care plan which was approved recently here in the United States.  But I’ll first let some of you give your theories, and it would be good to hear from both men and women!  I’ve also put a sample pair of men’s faces below so you can see what the women were looking at; the photo on the left side of the screen is the more masculine one.


Photo Credit: The Royal Society

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19 Responses to Will Obama’s Healthcare Plan Make Us a Nation of Girlie Men? Part 1

  1. Ilya says:

    women just looking for attractive man, no matter what. masculine or not.. whatever
    waiting for the 2nd part =)

  2. Chris says:

    In a healthier country, the society is more developped and people are living in safety. Thus women are more concerned about the emotional and spiritual sides.
    When I look at the above two pictures, I directly think that the right one has more thoughts in his mind.

  3. Vania says:

    I think that the man on the left looks more attractive, and in my opinion it won´t be his looking that it will tell us what he really is. It sounds as prejudice. And in many countries where the life is more materialist, feelings, spiritual sides and solidariety, people in general are more concerned material things. I think that, no important how you look but what you are, in any place of the world.

  4. Michel from FRANCE says:

    Hello Jeff,

    I am not sure to anderstand all about this topic. But I’am sure with the Obama’s Healthcare Plan , USA will be a very great Nation. A human and social nation. There is only one important value:
    There is no bad or no good peoples, only peoples who need to be considered.
    I believe in all peoples. White, black………….every body. That’s the only true for me.

    I hope you anderstand me.

    Bye Jeff.

    For Lucy; I am studing Penny Lane: It is Not so easy. sometime over reallity.

    Sorry for my poor english, sometime, I tell me: I am so bad and I’ll never be better…………………………
    It’s very desapointing.

  5. Tania says:

    Hi ! As a rock climbing lover I have proposed to my climbing team to reach “El Capitan“ from Yosemite National Park. Why El Capitan ? It is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world.
    And in spring it is more dangerous . So, traveling by plane and using SYMG – Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides – here we are in Yosemite . We prefer the free climbing , a style in which the climber moves forward and upward using only the available natural features of the rock . The basic climbing team is composed of climber and belayer. I have to tell you I am the climber . Equiped with rock climbing shoes, helmet, and ropes I started
    my reckless and “thrill-seeking” adventure. I am high, high… I can see all Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness.
    Come with me , come with me… to see this magic land… Oh! I’m sorry. It is just All Fool’s day , the first of April .

    All the best for you all,


  6. dongsung says:

    Even though I’m a male, I prefer right side one on the picture. He just looks tender or soft. Maybe Female will choose that too. However, what is this one related with Health Care? You don’t want to say U. S government Healthcare Plan includes the plastic surgery. Do you? If it does, perhaps lots of people will wait for the surgery.

  7. Stanislav says:


    You wrote such an interesting topic that I decided to write my opinion about men and of course about the Obama’s Healthcare Plan…First,I should write that I’m a 16 years old guy,who likes guys…In my opinion girlie man isn’t so attractive as masculine guy…It’s very strange opinion for guy but i’m not avarage person,who thinks as the others…

    Now I’m going to say some words about the Obama’s Healthcare Plan…As for me,medicine must be free everywhere…Espeically in the USA,the country of my dream…

    P.S.Thank you for your courses it really helps me to improve my English…May be it will help me to enter the university and then leave Russia…

    Best wishes,

  8. emiliano says:

    I have asked Cuca about her opinion like a woman and without any doubt she prefers the left face/boy as to her he seems more relaxed and looks more naturale too.

    My opinion is just the same like her, left face is more agreeable to me and if I have to trust in any of the two as a friend I´ll prefer the left face.
    But of course this is only appearance that means nothing as the important thing is what everyone has furthermore his or her faces and bodies.

  9. gregorex says:


  10. Eileen says:

    Hello Jeff,

    I prefer the left one since the right one looks more childish.

    Is it that the if Healthcare plan improves the health level of women of US thus women will tend to prefer girlie men more than ever in future ? Haha…

  11. Tania says:

    Hi ! Happy Easter to all those commemorate Jesus Christ resurrection . Happy spring .

    All the best for you all ,


  12. peter says:

    Hi Jeff ,

    How is everything man. Nice to read your article – like post .

    very stimulating post you got there Jeff. I agree with on the feminin looking guy for the most part. Here,In Canad , Girls dig that ,big time. I am telling you man. Got yourself a gayish look ,and you see girls fluck( wron spelling ,i guess ) to you.

    Still,you can find some among the crowd that have hots for conventional -looking men. However , I don’t fall in any categories ,and it is sad:)

    I am running a bussy life now. Believe it or not, I am juggling with three jobs.That is how crazy I am

    I am trying to squize some-time-with-you-guys in my jam-packed crassy,bussy schedule


  13. peter says:

    Again .it is me Jeff

    You know what , you and Lucy must ( it is a must ) tap yourselves on your shoulders. you should be proud of yourself with what you have been doing with our some how our linguistic mind set. Litterally,you take it ,then mould it. And,1 year after, there you go a freshly fabricated native speaker:) just check what you did to me. I dont think squat while reading;just come out. From where,don’t ask me.

    I vividly remmebered corresponding to you guys in the beginning was a killer . I literally struggling not to be way off. Now,I am not cappable of it. I mean ,Can’t be off. To you, is childish because it is your everyday occurance ,but to me it is huge. I defy that jeff ,no Native speaker cna’t get me any more. truth to be told ,before joinng you .I was the butt of joke,speaking English.Now I have gonne English.

    Enough about me ,just a token of appriciation . no mean to be all about me.well, how have you been 🙂

    A piece of advice always look before you leap. but WHEN IT COMES TO ESLPOD JUST LEAP

  14. Molly Xu says:

    the boy in the left picture looks like more strong and brave, the right one, seems smart or even sophisicated.
    I think that’s why different kind of society perfers different style faces, I don’t know whether I can conclude that more healther countries equals more developed countries? mind VS muscule? I believe people’s aesthetic appreciation incline to the right one eventually through long period of civilizing.

  15. Nima says:

    I think Chris (the second comment) has pretty much nailed it.
    There is another factor to consider though. in developed countries,
    the rate of people with homosexual tendencies is significantly
    higher. you do the math!

  16. Randall League says:

    I live in Japan and without a doubt “girlie men” are far more popular. I miss the good old days of John Wayne masculinity.

  17. Bakhtiar says:

    To answer your , rhetorical question, i say yes it is , Mr. President hit the nail on the head, by the congressional historic approval on health care overhaul, Mr. Obam proved that he was really brave man and he knocked the final nail in the coffin of tea party movement advaocacy campaign for stopping Capitol’s Lawmakers to not vote for president hostoric initiative.

  18. Tania says:

    Hi ! When you are very young you prefer a man with masculine appearance , a good-looking man. As masculinity is linked to fertility and dominance . If he is more aggressive you think he is more interesting , more attractive .
    In fact , maybe he is the next violent man . After years , a man who is educated , kind and understanding with an income potential he could be more than enough .

    I wish you a partner , a mate like that from your dreams ,


  19. Maria says:

    My theory – in high educated societies men with girlie look tend to be more educated and earn money not with his muscles but using his brains, so in order to be evolutionary protected women want to find a man who can earn money, allow healthcare prices, and provide good conditions for her children. Evolutional needs changed and now in educated countries you need to be more intellectual to survive.

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