The Beauty Of Porn: It Prizes Sex Appeal Over Prettiness (Maybe)

Randy Moore & Emily Addison at the Adult Entertainment Convention, July 29, 2011

Porn stars still busty, blonde and tan? Wherever would we get that idea?

A lot of things are swirling together in my head in a way that makes them seem related, and maybe they’re not. I’m gonna take y’all along for the ride anyway, though. The things (in no particular order) are: Porn stars, ideas of porn stars, beauty, sex appeal and artifice. Are you ready? Let’s dig in.

We’ll start with something XOJane editor Emily McCombs tweeted this morning:

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I don’t think many people would dispute that. Beauty—which should always be understood as “beauty” when I write it, okay? (the default assumption as construct, not fact)—encompasses another realm entirely than does sexual attractiveness or “sex appeal.” They can overlap; some people are pretty and sexy as hell (damn them). But one does not necessitate the other. Thank goodness.

I’ve always been “sexier” than “pretty.” That’s a weird thing for me to type, and I feel a little uncomfortable publicly delving into this (which probably means it’s ripe for delving into). But it’s something I’ve long taken as a pretty neutral fact of my existence. I can pass for pretty on good days; there are also a lot of facial idiosyncrasies that prevent me from being conventionally beautiful. It is what it is, to use my least favorite reality TV phrase (i.e. women are taught throughout life exactly “what kind of pretty” they are). And it has seemingly little bearing on my sexual desirability.

Because sex appeal, in my experience, has much more to do with attitude than beauty. There’s wit involved in sex appeal, and emotional intelligence. It’s about the way you dress, the way you move; the way you think, react, play. It’s something some people have naturally in boatloads. It’s something everybody has in some way. It’s something idiosyncratic, itself. It’s something you can cultivate.

Jessica Mor photo by Melissa Murphy

Jessica Mor before and after makeup via Melissa Murphy

Which brings us to: Porn stars. Yesterday I posted a gallery of photos of adult film actresses baring face for makeup artist Melissa Murphy. A few weeks ago I posted about an analysis of porn performers that found the average adult film actress is a brunette with a B-cup (named Nikki). Both of these posts garnered a semi-particular reaction from guy friends on Facebook. Said one:

I don’t mean this to sound like a jerky question, but in both this piece and the “picture a porn star” one, there seems to be a background assumption that a typical porn star is generally an attractive person. Is that intentional? Is that your own view? And is it your impression that that’s a common sentiment? I certainly can’t speak for the general population, or even for my gender. But I’ve consumed a decent amount of porn in my day. And while there are certainly some attractive porn stars, my own impression is that the median porn actress (however one could judge such a thing) is probably less attractive than the median woman in society at large, and probably by a fairly sizeable amount.

And another:

I don’t know who actually still thinks that the average porn star is a Barbie looking woman.

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