What is attraction? I prefer the fancy word “predilection”. By definition predilection is “a tendency to think favorably of something in particular; partiality; preference: a predilection for Bach”. To use this word in a sentence: I believe that people have attraction predilections. There are some things about people that are instantly attractive. These predilections are hard-wired into us, and the attraction is manifested when a person with the trait(s) is viewed. We find some people instantly attractive because of specific physical facts about a person rather than mysterious unknowables.
Multiple traits can be the subject of predilections. I found a list (http://www.spencergreenberg.com/2011/08/demystifying-the-magic-of-attraction/#.U97qIWP1pyI) of predilection associated physical characteristics. The website listed the following: Facial features, Body structure (including gender), Scent, Eye contact, Similarity/Group membership, Status, Value, Warmth/Interest, and Touch. I can attest to being impacted by some of these! Why? I believe that I am impacted because my predilections are so specific. Strangers are instantly attractive to me. I can attest that I once knew a guy that found hat wearing women to be instantly attractive. We all know people who seem to go for “types”. Their romantic inclinations seem to hit on a common set of body / personality features. I don't believe there is anything mysterious here.
I was moved to write this article because a friend shared a blog entry titled “6 Things I Don’t Understand About The Fat Acceptance Movement” (http://thoughtcatalog.com/carolyn-hall/2014/04/6-things-i-dont-understand-about-the-fat-acceptance-movement/). I approve of societal movements that motivate people to feel better about themselves. I also applaud societal education. The internet is a wonderful avenue for this. I also believe that pendulums swing, and sometimes they swing too far. I connected with the article's point 'People are allowed to not be attracted to certain body types'. Translation: it is OK to not be attracted to all people. I don't believe that shaming people into being attracted to all people is a doable proposition. People have predilections when it comes to who they are attracted to. Personal attraction not really a statement about overall attractiveness. Predilections are just that, a personal thing, and it is not possible for societal movements to modify predilections via a campaign of shame-based right-thinking.
I'll illustrate the with a poor analogy. I have a very strong preference for unsweetened tea. Most Southerners seem to like sweet tea. Many “are you a Southerner?” memes use this as a benchmark. What if I run into an “It is OK to be a Southerner” societal movement? It is OK! Then, what if I am shamed for enjoying unsweetened tea. I must not be a true Southerner! I must think Southerners who drink sweet tea are wrong, or I don't support them. Yep, this isn't the best analogy in the world, but it does show how personal preferences are not inherently evil, and that coercive methods of convincing changing personal preferences aren't cool.
Lastly I want to talk about the manners of attraction predilections. I've gotten myself into some dangerous territory here. A predilection could be used to excuse behavior that is rude and / or dangerous to society. This is best illustrated in bullet point with my personal feelings on the limitations of predilections:
1) Predilections are NOT an acceptable excuse for behavior (such as pedophelia) that is dangerous to oneself or society. There is a difference between a little kink and being seriously sick.
2) Predilections are a starting point in relationships. They are biological "hooks". They are surface traits, and should not be confused for who a person is overall.
3) Having a predilection is not an excuse to attempt a relationship / encounter with every person who satisfies the predilection.
4) Predilections are ZERO excuse for harassing behavior. I've read too many articles recently about women receiving unwanted attention. Don't be a jerk because you find somebody attractive.
5) Remember that predilections are insanely personal. Some may be even borderline insane! With point #1 in mind, don't judge what another person innately desires.
6) Predilections are often overridden when actual contact with other people commences. The saying “plans are the first casualty of war” comes to mind. It is OK to fall in with somebody who is not “your normal type”.
In summary, understanding attraction predilections explains a lot about human behavior, but there is more to the story. Predilections are an instinctive shortcut to finding people attractive. They are incredibly personal, and it is problematic to make them targets of general societal movements. While powerful, predilections can be abused when their healthy place in person-to-person relationships is not properly accounted for. This article was about attraction predilections. Other forms of predilections can be viewed through the lens provided by this article.