I have to admit that I was more affected by the news of Katherine Hepburn's passing than that of Strom Thurmond. But that's a sign of how much exposure I had to them -- I saw Hepburn a lot more than Thurmond because of her movies. What if Strom had acted in "African Queen" -- would I remember him as fondly? How about Strom Thurmond in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?" Hmm. And as a male, I have to say that she was definitely more attractive than the late honored Senator.
What is it about high cheekbones? Is it simply a fashion of the times that defines what beauty is, or is it truly engraved in our DNA, and what we perceive as a good match? And how is intellect interfering with all of this?
There are some great studies out there in cognitive science that look at how we perceive different faces, and although a lot of it seems like it is to do with how we perceive different expressions, I think the tools are there to do some interesting research on perceptions of attractiveness. Is it based on where you were brought up? Is it based on exposure to media? Is it based on race, culture, and/or ethnicity? How similar are the features on finds attractive to one's parents? etc. etc.
Off to write a grant... oh damn it, I can't. I work for the people that fund the grants. Sheesh.