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Talk about food for thought: According to new research out of the University of St. Andrews, people who eat healthy foods like carrots, yellow peppers and dark leafy greens are considered more attractive than individuals with a tan. In the study, subjects were shown images of 51 faces and offered two ways to make the faces more attractive: 1) Change their skin tones via computerized melanin (the compound that’s activated when you get a tan) or 2) Imbue their faces with the golden glow that typically results from eating carotenoids, antioxidants found in certain fruits and vegetables. Subjects wound up preferring the second method, injecting models with a radiance equivalent to that you’d get from consistently eating five servings of fruits and veggies a day.
These researchers are hardly the first to suggest veggies make you sexy. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has based many an ad campaign on the premise, showing everything from Pam Anderson in a lettuce bikini to their too-hot-for-TV Super Bowl ads. In her wildly successful pro-vegan book, The Kind Diet, Alicia Silverstone features a photo gallery of sexy men who eat no animal products of any kind, and at Casa Diablo Gentlemen's Club in Portland, OR, dancers strip in pleather, not leather.
While the study’s findings are sure to whip the American Dietetic Association into a delirious frenzy, there’s an intriguing link behind the findings: In general, people think having a tan (whether it comes from the sun or the grocery store) makes you more attractive. Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman notwithstanding, pretty much every woman I know feels prettier, more confident, even thinner with a tan. Witness the ritual of tanning before getting married, the popularity of Mystic Tan and Jergens self-tanning lotion, the hesitancy of stepping foot on a beach in a bathing suit while still pasty white, magazines that continually explain how a smidge of bronzing lotion can improve the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks.
If using the “Sex Sells” message helps us get more fresh produce into more Americans, I’m all for it. In the meantime, I’m going to get creative and make a belated sexy veggie Valentine’s Day card for my man using this racy, beta carotene-infused image.