Home Health News Update: “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

Update: “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?”

by Erika Nicole Kendall

I know, I know… it’s something many of us would simply prefer to regret, but since I wrote about it here, I figured it’d make sense to cover the conclusion to the situation, as well.

Alice, a BGG2WL reader, sent in the following:

I thought this might be of interest; you posted about an academic at the London School of Economics, a Dr Satoshi, who had written a really nasty blog post on “Why are black women less physically attractive than other women?” some months back. The LSE has reprimanded him, and imposed various sanctions (contained in the article linked below) but what’s interesting is that they’ve reprinted his formal letter of apology. Although he says he regrets the incident and apologises to those offended (he says he “should have been more careful in selecting the title of the blog post and the language that I used to express my ideas”), he really doesn’t seem to have understood the fact that his views are, in and of themselves, hateful and demeaning and… oh, I don’t have the words. Ugh. Anyway, here’s the article – I thought it might be something you’d like to know about.

Want a recap? (I’m sure you do.)

What accounts for the markedly lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women? Black women are on average much heavier than nonblack women. The mean body-mass index (BMI) at Wave III is 28.5 among black women and 26.1 among nonblack women. (Black and nonblack men do not differ in BMI: 27.0 vs. 26.9.) However, this is not the reason black women are less physically attractive than nonblack women. Black women have lower average level of physical attractiveness net of BMI. Nor can the race difference in intelligence (and the positive association between intelligence and physical attractiveness) account for the race difference in physical attractiveness among women. Black women are still less physically attractive than nonblack women net of BMI and intelligence. Net of intelligence, black men are significantly more physically attractive than nonblack men.


The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone. Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently. Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive. In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive. The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.

Yes. He wrote that. Complete with little graphs and photos, too.

The London School of Economics and Political Science’s news and media section reads as follows (if you’re skimming through simply for the consequences, they can be found in bold):

The internal review and formal disciplinary hearing into a controversial blog posting by Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, Reader in the Department of Management, at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has now been completed.

It has concluded that some of the arguments used in the publication were flawed and not supported by evidence, that an error was made in publishing the blog post and that Dr Kanazawa did not give due consideration to his approach or audience. Disciplinary action has been taken and Dr Kanazawa has written a letter of apology. Measures have also been put in place to ensure an incident of this nature does not happen again. In particular, Dr Kanazawa must refrain from publishing in all non-peer reviewed outlets for a year. Further, he will not be teaching any compulsory courses in the School for this academic year.

On 15 May 2011 Dr Satoshi Kanazawa posted a blog entry on the Psychology Today website entitled “Why are black women less physically attractive than other women?”. The School received considerable criticism from LSE students, academics and members of the public about the blog article.

In response, the School appointed a committee of senior academics to investigate the blog posting and its impact. It was clear that a number of people had been greatly offended by the blog and for this Dr Kanazawa has apologised. The review and hearing also considered the quality of the research underlying the article. After examination of the blog and detailed discussion with Dr Kanazawa, the hearing concluded that some of the assertions put forward in the blog post were flawed and would have benefited from more rigorous academic scrutiny. The view was that the author ignored the basic responsibility of a scientific communicator to qualify claims made in proportion to the certainty of the evidence.

It was the opinion of the hearing that the publication of the article had brought the School into disrepute. During the internal investigation and at the disciplinary hearing Dr Kanazawa expressed regret for the offence caused by the article and the damage to the School’s reputation. The School has accepted that Dr Kanazawa has learnt from this experience and will not make the same errors in future.

Dr. Kanozawa’s apology, also posted, read as follows:

Dear Professor Rees:

I am writing to express my sincere apology for the controversial post on myPsychology Today blog and the damage it has caused to the reputation of the School. I regret that the controversy surrounding its publication has offended and hurt the feelings of so many both inside and outside the School. The blog post in question was motivated entirely by my scientific curiosity and my desire to solve an empirical puzzle. It was not at all motivated by a desire to seek or cause controversy and I deeply regret the unintended consequences that its publication nevertheless had because of my error in judgment. I accept I made an error in publishing the blog post.

In retrospect, I should have been more careful in selecting the title of the blog post and the language that I used to express my ideas. In the aftermath of its publication, and from all the criticisms that I have received, I have learned that some of my arguments may have been flawed and not supported by the available evidence. In my blog post, I did not give due consideration to my approach to the interpretation of the data and my use of language.

The past three months have been most difficult for all concerned, and I would never want to relive the experience. I give you my solemn word that in the future I will give more consideration to the approach to my work and I will never again do anything to damage the reputation of the School.

Yours sincerely,

Satoshi Kanazawa

Is this enough for you? Do you even care anymore? Should he have been fired? I mean, evolutionary psychologists are usually pretty out there, but was this too much for you? Let’s hear it!

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Jennifer September 16, 2011 - 10:21 AM

He really could have kept his “apology” and shoved it up his…

Yum Yucky September 16, 2011 - 10:49 AM

Had it been in America, he may have been fired for this (I think). This whole thing is just wrong in so many ways.

Daphne September 16, 2011 - 12:08 PM

I don’t care about his apology, especially since I’m aware that there will always be individuals who think like he does. The most important thing to me, beyond any apologies from anyone (insincere or otherwise), was that the “science” behind his assertions were succinctly and comprehensively debunked. Should he have been fired? Probably, but the man apparently had a reputation for idiocy and poor scholarship long before this article, and the school continued to employ him. That tells me all I need to know.

There was a time when people used science to justify their “-isms,” especially racism, and for the most part, I think that time has passed. Can’t tell people what to think or force them to change their values, but we can call BS on any faux-academic/intelligentsia “evidence” used to buttress bigotry.

Andrea Plaid September 16, 2011 - 12:19 PM

He needs to be fired, full stop. #NoCountryForRacists

Gloria September 16, 2011 - 1:06 PM

That apology did not feel heartfelt at all. Honestly, a real apology would have said something like “I now understand that my original post was racist, hurtful, and completely unfounded. I tried to find a way to push my own flawed idea while still making it sound ‘scientific,’ and that was wrong. Since hearing all of the backlash over the article, I have had to seriously come to terms with and rethink my view of race and gender. I now realize that I have hurt and offended millions of people around the world, and for that, I sincerely apologize.” His statement basically said that he felt that he should have found a more appropriate and politically correct way of saying that black women are ugly…which means he missed the point of all of the outrage. Since he clearly still doesn’t get it, I do think he should be fired. Apparently, this isn’t the first time he has written something so completely offensive, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I think the LSE can only give him so many chances.

Erika Nicole Kendall September 16, 2011 - 1:13 PM

…and I am currently looking into ways that we can let the LSE know that neither his apology nor the consequences metted out are acceptable. 🙂

T.R. September 16, 2011 - 1:56 PM

Hmmm, I don’t have a strong emotional pull either way. Maybe I just don’t care and this didn’t resonate with me the way it did with others.

As someone said up top, you can’t legislate or control how people think or feel about things. People like him don’t worry or bother me as much because at least I KNOW where they stand and can respond accordingly. It’s people who think like that and are “underground” and trying to be PC or pretend they don’t feel a certain way but their policies, decisions, thinking etc gravely affect the lives of others or continue to perpetuate the stereotypes.

Human beings will always find ways to degrade each other as long as we don’t focus on healing and nurturing our selves. That’s man kinds default button, “if I don’t feel good about myself who can I hurt, belittle, dominate and/or debase to feel better.”

As you said Erika in another post about something entirely different :O),but I think applies in multiple layers of life, it’s the people that run on “Auto pilot” who concern me the most. They are the ones who don’t see how their behavior, big or small, erode the fabric of another human beings existence.

Cheryl September 17, 2011 - 5:40 AM

I guess his “empirical puzzle” was that he noticed black women were categorically hideous, he figured it had to have a scientific reason? Hating on black women is clearly the sport of the century.

Stefanie September 29, 2011 - 10:14 AM

“The blog post in question was motivated entirely by my scientific curiosity and my desire to solve an empirical puzzle. ”
Excerpted from Update: “Why Black Women Are Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” | A Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss

So, basically, he wanted to know why HE doesn’t find black women as attractive as other women? Now he knows….(laughs) he just didn’t need to let the whole world know…poor guy

Martina Dinale December 9, 2011 - 8:44 PM

As we say in my beloved Brooklyn ” Whaddyou ? F*****g NUTS ? Forget this repulsive little toad’s many inappropriate offensive this and that …..
what about the underlying assumption ??! Hah ? That is what makes me wild… that this …this DINGLEBERRY on the bum of academic life took it for granted that his diseased notion that black women are less attractive than non-black women was universally accepted !! As a Southern Queen of my acquaintance used to say ” That is some SPECIAL kind of stupid “. As it happens , “Professor ” , black women are so beautiful you cannot even encompass them in the ordinary uses of mere , singular nouns and pronouns . They are legion and so also are their beauties , every shade and shape and curve that a generous Nature can beguile the eye and heart with are hers , from the sloe eye of a Wolof to the ferocious warrior charm of a Zulu to the pocket venus that is a Kikuyu beauty to the thousand tints of cinnamon , silky black beach sand , salted caramel , cafe au lait that make up the ways American black women daily enchant our eyes and spirits .
You are just too stupid to see it apparently . And so we ought to pity you , right ? Since it IS – siighh- illegal to beat you like a gong and all .
Thank you for letting me sound off and I hope that you all – my sisters – know how beautiful you are .

Chatavia January 23, 2013 - 4:52 PM

If I am not mistaken, not only did he call Black women out as being unattractive, but he also called Black men stupid (“…net intelligence”) a few times in this article. His apology is not one that I would consider sincere, as there was no remorse. HIs ideas behind the article are still the same….He needs to go somewhere and take a seat.

Sheera May 11, 2013 - 12:50 AM

He needs to be ridiculed for his “work” AND fired due to the poor job he did at considering limitations to his study (i.e. his presuppositions were based on idiocy) AND as Jennifer noted “He really could have kept his “apology” and shoved it up his…”

Shira May 12, 2013 - 11:34 PM

He can take his fake a– apology and shove it. Black women are the most beautiful women in the world. We come in all shades and shapes. It’s funny how we live a world where other women inject their bodies with substances to have bigger lips, breasts, hips and behinds like our sisters of color yet they& their men insult us for having it naturally. They also spend inordinate amounts of time & money to “tan”, then proclaim we are inferior. If that’s true, why do you emulate what you hate???????

Rob August 23, 2013 - 7:18 PM

I can understand why black women would be hurt by this research, and as a scientist I condemn the author for framing an interesting story of human-ecology in such a negative and hurtful way. Another way to look at the results?

1. the average attractiveness score for all races was actually remarkably similar. Sure, statistically different, but really, women averaged about 3.4 to 3.7 regardless of race.

2. “average attractiveness” garnered a score of “3”. Those racial totals of 3.4 to 3.7, then, mean that on average people found ALL women to be of above average attractiveness! In other words, on average, NO RACE has unattractive women, and ALL RACES are actually scoring as attractive.

It just proves what us real men knew all along: attractive women come in all shapes, sizes, and races.

Erika Nicole Kendall August 23, 2013 - 11:12 PM

Publishing this comment just because I appreciated the try, lol.

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