The Frontal Cortex

Pregnancy and Plastic Surgery

I think the NY Times Style section should invest in a resident evolutionary psychologist. Its pages are often filled with the most blatant examples of human nature and sexual selection. The scientist could also help me understand stories like this:

Dr. David Stoker, a plastic surgeon in Marina Del Rey, Calif., has a surgical cure for the ravages of motherhood. He, like many plastic surgeons nationwide, calls it a “mommy makeover.”

Aimed at mothers, it usually involves a trifecta: a breast lift with or without breast implants, a tummy tuck and some liposuction. The procedures are intended to hoist slackened skin as well as reduce stretch marks and pregnancy fat.

“The severe physical trauma of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding can have profound negative effects that cause women to lose their hourglass figures,” he said.

If I remember my evo-psych correctly, the whole reason the “hourglass figure” is so attractive is because it’s some sort of implicit signal that a woman can have lots of kids. (It has something to do with wide hips leading to easier births.) But isn’t already having kids the best evidence that you can have kids? Nothing says “I’m fertile” like having offspring. By that logic, women should be celebrating the physical effects of post-pregnancy.

Of course, that won’t happen anytime soon. So much for my pathetic attempts at telling “just so” stories.

On a related note, Mind Hacks discusses the link between menstrual cycle and lap dancing:

A study shortly to be published in the journal Evolution and Human Behaviour found that lap dancers in their most fertile phase of the menstrual cycle earned much more than dancers in the least fertile phase. In contrast, dancers who took the contraceptive pill, which ‘flattens’ the hormone cycle, earned much the same throughout the month.


  1. #1 Jonathan
    October 4, 2007

    Why men don’t go for women with kids is because men are attracted to signs of fecundity in women, not fertility. A woman who has not had any children is more capable of bearing a larger number of offspring.

  2. #2 Lincoln
    October 4, 2007

    Instead of hiring an Evolutionary Psychologist, they could just hire Jayson Blair again (remember the guy that made us stories and was sacked). Because that’s what Evolutionary Psychologist do isn’t it? Just make up (just so) stories…

  3. #3 jim
    October 5, 2007

    Clearly restoring the hourglass is the true path to resurrecting the appearance of fertility. The number of children is immaterial, for it assumes some sort of cognition on the male’s part. We all know, from our drunken experiences, that requiring cognition is not the best way to make a baby.

  4. #4 Daniel
    October 5, 2007

    I don’t get cosmetic surgery. It doesn’t really make people look young again. It does not seem perfected. Often you can still guess the true age of youthful looking people. You say, “wow, that woman really looks young for 55; she must have had some work done.” In judging a person’s age, there is some mysterious quality that we notice, that has nothing to do with facial lines or belly fat. We all have youth, and then it gradually goes away.

    What I would really like as I age, is a face-lift on my liver, and a face-lift on my heart, and a face-lift on my brain. After all those things, then I might consider a face-lift on my face.

  5. #5 amybuilds
    October 5, 2007

    Two things:

    On plastic surgery: Baz Lurhmann said it best, “Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.”

    On children: I have three, I love them, they exhaust me. Any sane woman in my position would not do anything that might entice someone to give me more.

  6. #6 Jonathan
    October 7, 2007

    On the stripper study; I don’t find the evidence presented presents a strong case for the conclusion reached. It seems to me another “Just So Story.” The study seems to ignore the fact that strippers tend to have aberrant sexual behavior in the first place, making them horrible candidates for a study on the sexual behaviors of an average man.

    The researchers seemed to ignore the possibility that strippers would perform better near ovulation for reasons other than their ovulating. A woman who is menstruating retains fluids and thus feels bloated. They also frequently have painn from cramps associated with menstruating. Both of which could cause a change in the both the affect of the woman and the quality of the performance. The argument can be made that stripper pay increases the further from menstruation the woman is.

    Third, the researchers did not seem to take a rather sensible step in the study. That being, take the strippers who weren’t on birth control and place half on birth control, and half on placebo and see if there isn’t any alteration in the tip amounts. That would be compelling evidence. What was reported is not.

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