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Random thoughts

Hey, I didn’t ask the question! But it was recently asked by a blogger for Psychology Today. The possible answer to the question, according to Satoshi Kanazawa, is differences in testosterone. Supposedly (because I take everything I read/sometimes see with a grain of salt) “Africans” have higher levels of testosterone.

My mom always told me, if you can’t say it better than it’s already been said, then don’t. And I have to say that CNN blogger LZ Granderson put many of my thoughts into words.

How dangerous is it to attempt to statistically prove physical attractiveness in humans? Is Kanazawa’s post responsible journalism? Is there any value in it? Or is it an example of what happens when you give everyone a voice/mic/platform? Speak out!

The researcher in me understood his explanation of factor analysis, but had the following questions:
*What is the level of significance for these findings? Is it .05% (acceptable standard), or is it larger (.10% or .15%)? Kanazawa mentions that “race differences among men are statistically significant, albeit substantively very small, in Wave III)”, but doesn’t identify the level of significance. Note: identifying the level of significance is expected when expressing statistical significance.
*What was the race of the interviews who were determining the attractiveness of the Add Health respondents? If a white interviewer was rating a black respondent, is that really reliable? Is this question unimportant, given that 3 interviewers rated the respondent’s attractiveness over seven years?
*You must consider the source: Kanazawa is apparently an evolutionary psychologist. London School of Economics or not. See my earlier post about evolutionary psychology and physical attractiveness.

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How often have you made a decision, committed to it, shared it with someone else, and regretted your decision to share it? Hopefully, not too often. We live in the real world, though. Sometimes, this does and can happen. I am no exception. I began to question my decision to stop eating meat for 3 weeks once I told my friends and family. I got responses like “Why?” “Really?” “For what?” “Are you sure you want to do that?” “That’s interesting!” “Why 3 weeks?” “You can do it!”

When I started my challenge on April 17, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. After over 2 decades of eating meat, the impact that this can have on your body was never something I really questioned. On the flip side, I didn’t really know a lot about the impact of being a vegetarian. Because of this,I made a fatal error. I didn’t research how becoming a vegetarian (however temporarily) can affect your body, digestive system, weight, etc. I also didn’t really look into how to eat a balanced diet without meat. I didn’t know what to expect. Now, don’t get me wrong. This challenge wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle. But anyone that knows me knows that I can’t stand being unprepared. This may have contributed to some anxiety that I began to feel during my challenge.

Even though I may have struggled through the challenge, I came out on the other side a newly informed carnivore (No, I will not become a vegetarian). But these are some of the things that I learned and will do differently in the future:

1) Use quinoa, tofu, seeds, nuts and beans for additional protein in my diet
Resource: go here for additional options and protein content of various foods.
2) Keep fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, chives, cilantro, etc., in the house. They are a really simple and easy way to add flavor to dishes. And if you’re worried about fresh herbs spoiling before you can use them, check out the resource below on freezing herbs.
Resource: Freezing herbs
3) Control meat portions.
Resource: American Cancer Society’s article on controlling portions

What’s your take on being a vegetarian? Or a healthy carnivore (that doesn’t have to be contradictory)? Have you or will you ever try it? Let me know.

With so many videos trotting out models with $1K weaves and lacefronts, it was refreshing to see Stic.Man and M1 of Dead Prez’ tribute to the natural haired sistas, “The Beauty Within”. It flips B.O.Bs “Nothing on You”, which I’m sure you’ve heard countless times on radio, but shows that despite what we THINK the brothers are looking for in a woman’s appearance, it’s those that display their beauty naturally that get the most second looks.

The media’s acceptance of natural hair as an option for Black women is definitely moving in the right direction with videos like Sesame Street’s “I Love My Hair” which I posted here, and more natural haired models being featured in ad campaigns by the likes of companies such as American Appparel. With natural hair getting a coveted cosign from mainstream American media, will this open the door for more sisters to go natural in their day to day? Do you think if a major celebrity, say a Beyonce or JHud came out the “hair closet” some folks would think twice about their next hair appointment? Does the media even have an effect on how you or others view their beauty regimen? Let’s talk about it….Spin the video again, but don’t expect to see it on MTV anytime soon. Ciao!!

Dead Prez “The Beauty Within” from kinetikcinematix on Vimeo.

So far, this week has been (in a word), challenging. At the beginning of week 2, I visited some family for Easter dinner. While everyone else dined on salmon and chicken, I ate some healthy salads and vegetarian dishes. Because I had a hard time feeling full, the meat looked very appealing to me. It took every ounce of strength I had to turn down the meat. But, in the end, my resolve won out and I stuck with it.

For whatever reason, I did not think to purchase veggie burgers or meatless meat like they sell at Trader Joe’s. That would probably help with my frustration, because there is only so much tofu and quinoa a carnivore can eat in a 2 week period.

I am continuing to hold on, with about 1.5 weeks to go. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been enthusiastically looking forward to the juicy burger and fries I will have at the end of this challenge.

As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My own (and probably common) interpretation of this statement is that beauty is relative. What I may consider beautiful, you may consider repulsive. And what you may find attractive, I may not see it that way. But what factors determine beauty? Is there an unconscious process that humans undergo in determining whether a potential mate is attractive or not? Or is it a very conscious process?

Before I begin to attempt an answer to this question, I want it known that I love my natural hair, and this has been a process. Unfortunately, for many within the black community, hair is a symbol that may represent conformity, non-conformity, afrocentricity, etc. My hair, which in this picture is styled into an afro, is more like an accessory. But I do not live in a vacuum, and recognize that some men (whether they be white, black, Latino, Asian, European, etc.) have a preference for certain types of hair. This is evidenced by the reception I observed during a run to the grocery store. One woman complimented my afro, and others openly stared. To some, my hair in its natural state is their preference. To others, they are turned off by my afro and see it as unkept, wild, or an attempt to revolt. For me, natural hair is beautiful and I find beauty in a person’s individuality. Again, I believe that beauty is relative .

But is that opinion consistent with academic explanations of attraction and beauty? Today, I am only going to briefly summarize two theories from the evolutionary perspective. This perspective encompasses the “good genes” hypothesis and “runaway sexual selection” (See Swami, V., Furnham, A. (2008). The Psychology of Physical Attraction. New York: Routledge). “Good genes” suggests that people are attracted to characteristics that signal good health, such as reproductive health (e.g. fertility). “Runaway sexual selection” essentially is a positive feedback process. It is hypothesized to occur when female preferences for good genes influence mate selection. Initially, a naturally selected trait in males is accompanied by a preference for that trait in females (R.A. Fisher 1958). This theory is commonly discussed in the context of peacocks and other animals. For example, assume that at some point in history male peacocks did not have brightly colored feathers. If at some point, peahens preferred more brightly colored males, the result (according to the theory) is that more brightly colored peacocks would be more likely to find mates. The impact would be that males become more and more bright with each generation.

What other characteristics or features might signal good health? Can healthy hair signal good health? I would argue yes. Lustrous and healthy hair is not accidental. On the contrary, it is the result of a healthy body and healthy eating. You can facilitate healthy hair growth through drinking lots of water, protein, minerals, vitamins, and exercise. My hair is healthy and I choose to use it as a form of self-expression, which is I believe that beauty is in the afro of the beholder.

It finally arrived! My first book has now been officially published and is available for purchase on Amazon.com. I am so happy to say that one of my life-long dreams has finally come true. My book is essentially my master’s thesis, for which I researched the potential influence of gentrification on homicide rates in Chicago, IL from 1970 to 1995. As part of Emory’s requirements, I paid the fee to list my thesis in my university’s database of dissertations and theses. That is how my publisher found my book. I definitely recommend that if you have the opportunity, you do the same.