In the past month, I have been left speechless in the presence of pure genetic beauty. I say genetic, because human beauty does have a component derived from one’s ancestors, how they looked, how they cared for themselves, and how they selected their mates.
Athleta, the product line that captures the “beautiful athlete” look in its products, makes me think of the women, and also men, I am seeing with great frequency in and around Portland.
There is also just sheer randomness in the assigning of physical features to a person, and the utterly incalculable fate that placed someone in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in the Bay Area and another in some godforsaken neighborhood in Detroit, where there are few resources, poor food choices, high crime, and economic despair. (That’s my public health nerd speaking here.)
Those gifted with good fortune can also take additional steps. They can eat good food, exercise daily, become religious, build social networks, adopt a positive outlook, and own a dog. All of these actions can also improve a person’s health, and thus one’s exterior appearance to their world.
So when I see beauty, I never think it is just one thing, though I know genetics matter. I think it is a combination of factors. I know that those with good fortune being born into the right class and group may have a higher probability of good looks.
I think about beauty often now in Portland, mainly because I see a lot of it. It seems Portland has become a popular spot for successful people, including people who have talent, connections, and an upper middle-class upbringing that promotes good luck, opportunity, and a higher chance at being good-looking. (In this country, the poorer you are, the higher your chances are at being overweight and obese, which creates many health and physical appearance issues.)
I have no magic quotient what a high proportion of beautiful people is to a low proportion. I just sense it when I am startled by it on a growing frequency. Portland, since I moved back here in 2014, has a very high percentage of attractive people. They look fit. They look confident. They appear to have a level of wealth—even some of the younger ones, who likely should be saddled in enormous debt given their age. That is unless they were wealthy to start.
Oddly, I stumbled on two incredibly beautiful women in the last month, both on biking excursions. One I met biking with friends. She was the co-owner of a winery, and she was a gracious host to my party. I could not get comfortable with this perfectly dressed, perfectly coiffed, perfectly mannered woman in her early 40s asking me for my order. I felt the Monster character in Young Frankenstein, who was confused when the Doctor said, “Hello handsome.” Was she talking to me? Yes, she was that perfect of a person in how she presented herself to the world.
Hello, handsome. That’s what it feels like some times when you encounter Portland’s class of beautiful people.
Despite her nearly perfect everything, she was still a nice soul and a gracious business woman. I told my colleagues as we biked away, she was the girl who would never give me the time of day in high school. Yet, she was proving me wrong just minutes earlier.
Yesterday, again while biking, I saw yet another apparition of physical perfection. This time it was a blonde cyclist—and I normally am not someone who favors blonde hair and the Nordic look. She had on very stylish and colorful bike clothes—meaning expensive. She straddled a bike that was clearly in a price bracket above mine and stroked her machine confidently. We passed on my normal hill climb. She was descending. I was ascending. She gave me a friendly biker “hello,” smiled, and was soon gone, leaving me looking at her colorful figure fade into the distance. She seemed like some dream from a movie.
I would not think too much about this, were it not for other sitings of pretty women and handsome men in this city and in the surrounding area. Portland has changed. We have now become the beacon for the beautiful. It is not just for Southern California anymore.
All of this is highly unscientific, but often one must trust one’s intuition and test one’s hypothesis. I think the hypothesis I have confirmed is that I likely find myself in a pool with the prize catches, and perhaps I am not the king salmon. I still do not know where all of these large numbers of pretty people of Portland are coming from, but make no mistake, they definitely are coming here.