Talk about a problematic question: in a blog post on Psychology Today’s website, Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, wonders why black women are less physically attractive.
If you try to look at the post, you’re out of luck. It was published on Sunday, but in an email to DCentric, a Psychology Today editor confirms that the post was permanently removed from the website for editorial reasons. The publication had no official comment on the post, but the move came on Monday afternoon after Kanazawa’s writing had already caused a firestorm on Twitter.
Kanazawa developed his question using data from the Add Health study, in which a representative sample set of adolescent Americans have been interviewed three times in the past seven years. At the end of each interview, the interviewer rated the physical attractiveness of the participant on a five-point scale. This total was then averaged out, and based on that, black women were found to be less attractive than their white, Asian and Native American counterparts. Kanazawa calls this an “objective” rating.
Some studies show there are some objective ideas as to what constitutes attractive people, such as facial symmetry, but to rely solely on the individual preferences of the study’s interviewers to conclude black women are less attractive doesn’t seem very objective at all. Missing from the discussion: societal standards of beauty. They may be shifting somewhat, but there’s still a very strong white standard of beauty undercurrent that persists today, both at home and abroad. The study didn’t seem to be controlled to reflect that.
Instead, Kanazawa argues that black women are less attractive because of high levels of testosterone (this is after he writes that black women are heavier and less intelligent):
Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.
Kanazawa is known for taking such controversial stances: in 2006, the London School of Economics found itself defending Kanazawa’s academic freedom after he published a paper arguing that Africans countries were poor because their inhabitants were less intelligent.