There’s a reason why people resist change so much and stick to their “comfort zones” (sorry, 5am Club!). It’s because, as humans, we seek out what’s familiar.
Of course, this can have its own drawbacks like missing out on great experiences, but more often than not, seeking out the familiar is not a malicious intent, rather an anthropological wiring.
Why We’re Attracted to Similar Looks
I remember personally being drawn to dolls that looked like me when I was a little girl. Especially when the American Girl doll series was just starting to boom. My first desire was for none other than Kirsten, because she had blonde hair and blue eyes just like I did (not to mention I was obsessed with Little House on the Prairie back then which she closely represented with her cute 1850s outfit). Close behind on my list was Felicity (a redheaded, green-eyed doll) and Josefina (a doll of Mexican descent).
I loved each of these doll’s individual stories and found them all to be equally beautiful and unique. However, my connection with Kirsten was undeniably instant and felt the most authentic since she represented what I could relate to physically. The other dolls triggered my resonance through their stories. And it wasn’t just dolls, I found myself gravitating in a similar way when it came to teachers, mentors, coaches, family members, friends, etc.
Our ancestors were conditioned to be attracted to those who represented their “tribe” out of safety.
This is why we’ve seen a push for more diversity regarding children’s toys, books, and media, especially in the past decade. This increased inclusion to match a diverse need is simply to satisfy the innate urge we humans have to draw towards what we can identify ourselves in, whether that be through race, hair color, eye color, body type, socioeconomic status, height, weight, braces, glasses, amputated body parts…the list could go on. Physical appearance will always reign as the most potent attraction element, however, due to being outwardly obvious.
In fact, psychologist Sabina Read states, "What we're really attracted to is familiarity, so seeing something familiar in someone else often forms some kind of attraction.” She goes on to say that from a more primitive standpoint, our ancestors were conditioned to be attracted to those who represented their “tribe” out of safety.
A Once Innocent Instinct Is Now Weaponized
The unfortunate matter is that society is now making this natural, innocent instinct a war on race. Even though, as mentioned above, there are many other attraction factors that delve deeper than skin color.
One such claim was made during the recent season of The Bachelor. A Screenrant article declared social media injustice by saying: “BIPOC contestants in general regularly trail behind their white counterparts in terms of social media following, which has financial repercussions. Instagram is a major source of revenue and fewer followers means less money.” The article emphasized in particular the low following of Top 4 contestant Serene Russell, who had a 19K following, compared to 90K (Susie Evans), 70K (Rachel Recchia), and 64K (Gabby Windey) at the time of writing in February 2022.
The article went on to write: "Bachelor Nation fan account BachelorRabbitHole recently shared a post about Clayton’s final four and their Instagram follower count, and it was a huge letdown. Serene Russell's IG follower count trails behind the rest of her fellow final four, and it shows how little Bachelor viewers care about diversity. A lack of diversity has always been an issue in The Bachelor franchise, but even now that there are more cast members who are BIPOC, there’s still a disappointing lack of support for them on social media. There is a clear and noticeable divide between viewers who value BIPOC cast members and their stories and viewers who don’t, and that has unfortunate consequences for the leads and contestants themselves. The lack of support for Clayton’s women of color—and past BIPOC cast members—on Instagram is a major problem in the franchise, and Bachelor Nation needs to do better."
The American Bachelor audience is 77% female, with 75% being white.
Circling back to the theory that people will resonate and connect deeper with someone they can identify themselves in, this Instagram data would make sense given that a recent YouGov survey discovered the American Bachelor audience is 77% female, with 75% being white. Looking at this from an even bigger step back, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, 61.6% of all American citizens are white. 18.7% are Latino, 12.4% are black, 6% are Asian, and 1.1% are American Indian. So if we follow our logic that humans innately resonate with those who look similar to them, then even if every single American watched The Bachelor, a similar trend in social media followings is likely to occur.
This is just a surface level scope. The dip in followers could go even deeper than just skin color, based on factors like personality and shared values, which could also contribute to resonance.
Assuming people are being viciously racist due to an Instagram statistic is wildly unreasonable. If this were an act of true racism, the viewership ratings would have drastically decreased, which it did not. This is a matter of people deciphering for themselves who they resonate with and therefore would like to continue following and keeping up with. Guaranteed if the racial makeup of The Bachelor viewership demographic were reversed, we would see that reflected on social media.
The rising trend of quickly labeling everything racist is a huge disservice. True, vile racism unfortunately does still exist, but masking it under wide-stretched assumptions leaves those desperately in need of our activism and attention drowning in the shadows of unnecessary noise. It’s important that we see these toxic trends for what they are – silencers. Only by drawing awareness to these radical claims can we then start to find a voice of reason and unity.
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