Is Being Conservative Healthier?
A recent scientific study is declaring conservative women are more attractive than leftist women. The great question posed by this finding is one that science cannot answer: Why?
A Danish study published in Scientific Reports in March used artificial intelligence to analyze thousands of photos of Danish political candidates and discovered that “For females … high attractiveness scores were found among those the model [program] identified as likely to be conservative.” The AI program found that left-wing women who were analyzed typically displayed contempt and were considered less attractive by the AI program’s standards. Those findings matched up with rankings performed separately by humans.
The study’s authors went on to write, “Attractiveness was not the only correlate of model-predicted ideology. We also found that expressing happiness is associated with conservatism for both genders.” Both conservative men and women were found to smile more, while leftist politicians of both sexes displayed contempt and neutrality in their facial expressions.
The study’s authors posited that their findings are most important in considering potential invasions of privacy on the part of AI. While ethical considerations over the use of this new technology are crucial, of course, another important question to ask is what these findings mean about conservative and leftist people themselves and the lifestyles that they lead.
The idea of physiognomy — that is, the relationship between a person’s character and his face — dates back to ancient times and spans Greek, Indian, Chinese, and other civilizations. Some of the first physiognomic thinkers were actually Aristotle and Pythagoras. Physiognomy is a popular concept in literature: authors like Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë — and even more modern writers like Roald Dahl, of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” fame — would use descriptions of a character’s physical appearance to hint at his personality.
One early physiognomic theory purported that a person’s character is determined by his physical appearance; this is clearly absurd, but its inverse has the ring of truth to it: that is to say, a person’s character shapes his physical appearance. This idea does or may seem obvious, a thought instilled in us even as children. We all know from a young age that the meaner a person is, the meaner he’ll look. As we grow older, and especially as we encounter novel vices we never dreamt of as children, the idea develops and even takes on horrifying new aspects. If a man is an alcoholic, we expect him to look more than just disheveled but sickly, dazed, or desperate. How then if a far graver sin were committed, such as carrying out an abortion?
The great Irish author Oscar Wilde explored this idea in his novel “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” For those unfamiliar with the classic, the novel tells the tale of a handsome young man named Dorian Gray who quips that he would sell his soul to look always as young and beautiful as he does in a portrait a friend painted of him. Under the influence of another friend, Dorian embarks on a wild hedonistic lifestyle, which includes all manner of sexual immoralities and results in the suicides and even murders of those within his sphere of influence. As he looks at his portrait, he finds his wish has come true: the painted image bears not only the marks of age, but of his cruelty, malice, lasciviousness, and perversion.
Literary scholar Joseph Pearce, author of many books on Christian themes in literature, including one on Oscar Wilde and his work, told The Washington Stand of how Wilde depicts the effects of sin on both the soul and the body:
“Oscar Wilde shows how the sinner remains outwardly beautiful whereas the increasingly ugly portrait of him, which is the true mirror of his soul, becomes more and more hideous. The latter is the true image of the person, irrespective of how physically beautiful he is. But the fictional character of Dorian Gray is only able to remain physically beautiful because of a supernatural pact with the devil. In reality, it is more likely that an ugly lifestyle will make itself apparent in physical ugliness.”
This idea of the soul’s beauty (or ugliness) being apparent in the face didn’t end with Wilde. The much-beloved Christian author C.S. Lewis expounded on the idea, too, as did his compatriot J.R.R. Tolkien.
What is it then about the conservative lifestyle that may print beauty or happiness on the face, while leftism leaves one looking bitter, contemptuous, or vacuous?
Scott McKay, a contributing editor at The American Spectator and the conservative author of “The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win the Next American Era,” offered The Washington Stand a simple explanation. “A conservative, or perhaps better put traditional, lifestyle is going to involve a number of things which would make for better physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual health.”
First, he explained, location is key. “You’re more likely to live in a suburban, exurban or rural setting, and that means fresher air, less air or noise pollution, more time spent outdoors, probably more physical activity, more sun on your face.” Countless studies have proven what centuries of life experience has already demonstrated: that fresh air, sunshine, and exercise are good for the body. But these are physical factors, not ideological or spiritual ones, though they may be fueled or inspired by ideological choices.
Conservatives do more than just take care of their bodies, of course; they also take care of their minds. Conservatives tend to rely on a rich literary and philosophical tradition that leftists spurn. Conservatives are more likely to explore the works of Aristotle and Virgil, mine treasures from the likes of William Shakespeare and John Milton, and readily engage with the works of Edmund Burke and Alexis De Tocqueville.
Leftists instead tend to be enamored of all that’s new and “innovative,” abandoning the classics that have not only survived centuries but led men through them, in favor of novel pseudo-sciences and all things “modern.” Just look at what conservatives and leftists teach their children: classical education has high schoolers reading Homer, Machiavelli, and Dante, while leftists push for books like “Genderqueer” and “Flamer,” both of which depict homosexual acts in pornographic detail.
But the deepest source of beauty is to be found in the soul. Conservatives are largely Christian and, as such, center their lives not around the individual nor around a community nor even around an ideology, but around a person, namely God. Christians know that we are made in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:27) so it stands to reason that the more closely we live in His will, the more perfect and, indeed, beautiful the reflection of that Image will become.
If that’s the case, then turning away from God’s will, leading a life of debauchery, committing abortion, or even just nihilistic relativism, would darken that image of God. McKay explained, “The Left has proven that the absence of a religious basis to life creates a vacuum which is inevitably filled with a dog’s breakfast of things, and so many of them are now embracing the woke religion which has no redeeming qualities at all. It’s no wonder so many of them are miserable and disturbed.”
All are, of course, made in the image and likeness of God, and even in the most depraved personality that image, tarnished and marred, will still glimmer in the dark. But, oh, how much more brightly it will shine if we live our lives in a way that glorifies that image, and Him in Whose image we were made.
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.