Have you ever turned on an old movie and been enamored by the lead actor? Old Hollywood was glamorous enough, but the handsome men they had at their disposal only made it better.
It’s easy to watch a James Dean movie and wonder why there aren’t men like that anymore. The covers of teen magazines are filled with effeminate looking young men who have replaced the brooding, manly teen heartthrob. There are many reasons why men are more effeminate these days and why women are often attracted to them, and one of them is our birth control.
Effeminate Men Are Everywhere Now
If you ask an average teen girl who her favorite heartthrob is, she’s more likely to throw out LilHuddy than a hunk like Jacob Elordi. We’re seeing a proliferation of effeminate looking men being held up as the epitome of attractiveness to teen girls — Timothee Chalamet being the most infamous. He’s everywhere nowadays, and we’re all supposed to buy that he’s the sexiest (younger) man alive. What happened to the tall, tan, hunky guys of the ‘90s? Am I missing something?
The terrifying truth is that it might be much more than viral TikTok videos or pretty curly hair that is catching girls’ eyes - it might be the fact that more than a quarter of all women are on some form of hormonal birth control, even starting in their teens. The worst part is, it might be driving their love life more than they think.
Birth Control Influences Who You Find Attractive
It turns out that women on the pill are more attracted to men with effeminate features because their hormones have been changed by the pill. Women who aren’t on birth control have more estrogen, making them more likely to be attracted to men with higher testosterone levels, who often have more masculine features like a strong jaw, broad shoulders, and facial hair.
The impact of this biochemical change can be seen played out in a 2013 study by Scottish researchers, in which young women — who were not on birth control — digitally altered a man’s facial features to create their ideal man. Then a third of the participants went on birth control, and three months later the experiment was repeated, in which the women on birth control designed men with significantly less masculine features.
Attraction to the wrong man could hurt your relationship long term.
Other studies have shown similar results, which raises the question of how birth control can alter your relationship satisfaction. Charlotte Alter of Time Magazine writes, “Some women with partners who were not conventionally attractive reported being less attracted to him after stopping oral contraceptives, whereas a decrease was not seen in women whose partners were conventionally handsome.” This means you might not find your man so attractive after stopping the Pill if he wasn’t manly looking to begin with.
This is really problematic for several reasons. First, it’s safe to assume that a lot of women want to have children with their husbands eventually, which means at some point you’ll go off your birth control. Shouldn’t you be worried that you might no longer be attracted to your husband? Even if you don’t plan on having children, one day you’ll no longer need the pill for birth control and may encounter the same issue.
This same phenomenon can also be seen outside our relationships in how men are judged to be attractive by societal standards.
How Masculinity Has Changed through the Decades
The birth control pill became popular among young women at the beginning of the Sexual Revolution in 1960. The way birth control changes the kind of men we’re attracted to effects what society views as attractive. Before the Sexual Revolution, some of the greatest Old Hollywood heartthrobs (and some of my personal favorites) were James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire, Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, and Cary Grant in every movie he was in.
These actors, and the roles that made them heartthrobs, are much more masculine than Hollywood heartthrobs of today like Timothee Chalamet and Harry Styles or TikTok stars LilHuddy and Caleb Finn. Sure, there are actors like Henry Cavill and Bradley Cooper who still capture the masculinity of Old Hollywood, but younger male celebrities tend to have a more effeminate look.
With more teens and women on birth control than ever, more young women are attracted to men with more effeminate features, and this changes how we as a society view masculinity. Seems like a pretty dangerous side effect for something so tiny as a pill.
They say you can’t control who you’re attracted to, but it looks like our birth control might have something to say about it.
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