Dec 18, 2010

Who's hotter: Shalani Soledad or Liz Uy?

Dear Filipino,

I know P-Noy has moved on, but who would have made a better Philippine First Lady: Shalani Soledad or Liz Uy?  Heck, let's be blunt about it: who is hotter? ;-)

Mr. GreenGH

Dear Mr. GreenGH,

You're a vile one, Mr. GreenGH -- you have termites in your smile!  :-)

But in order to answer your question, I turned to experts.

According to Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from London School of Economics, the aphorism that "beauty [or hotness to use your term] is in the eye of the beholder" has already been scientifically proven wrong.  Kanazawa points out that there are in fact three main features that characterize beautiful faces:

(1) the geometric feature of bilateral symmetry -- i.e., the more symmetrical faces are more attractive;

(2) the mathematical feature of averageness -- i.e., faces with features closer to the population average are more attractive than those with extreme ones; 

(3) and the biological concept of secondary sexual characteristics -- which, unlike the first two, differ for the sexes.  In the case of women, features considered to be attractive are indicators of high levels of estrogen (e.g., large eyes, fuller lips, larger foreheads, and smaller chins).

Kanazawa further contends that beauty is in fact like height or weight: It is quantifiable and objective, and therefore culturally universal and innate -- i.e., "we are born with it" -- as shown by studies in the mid-1980s involving babies, and its recent version involving newborns less than one week old who've shown significantly greater preference for faces that adults judge to be attractive (see also Rubenstein et al.'s 1999 APA study, "Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces: A Cognitive Explanation).

Having access to three small children, The Filipino decided to conduct his own small homespun experiment. 

The Experiment

The subjects are H, C and J.  H is 3, C is 5 and J is 7 years old.  H and J are males; C is female.  They are of Filipino descent and close relatives.

To control for peer pressure, the subjects, over three rounds of voting, were individually and successively (from youngest to oldest) shown three sets of pictures of Shalani and Liz, as follows:

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

To control for the impact of smiles, for the first round of voting, the pictures shown on Figure 1 were chosen because the two ladies are both seen smiling. 

To control for the impact of the color yellow dominant in Shalani's picture in the first round, the pictures in Figure 2 were then chosen for the second round because this time, it's Liz who's wearing yellow.  For this round, the presentation of the ladies' pictures were also reversed to control for "order of presentation" bias.  While, admittedly, there are some differences in focus and background which can affect choice, the pictures were deemed comparable enough because the two ladies this time are seen not smiling.

Note that the two sets of pictures seen on Figures 1 and 2 were placed side by side after the fact; the subjects were not shown the pictures this way but one at a time.  However, for the last round of voting, The Filipino lucked out and found online what's shown on Figure 3, in which both ladies' pictures have been previously placed side by side by someone else.  Figure 3 is also interesting because the ladies are both shown glamorously, fully made up, almost flawless, and to The Filipino at least, look totally different (as they have been Photoshopped to the max -- to everyone's detriment, one might add).

It is worth mentioning also that last night was the very first time the subjects were seeing the two ex-potential First Ladies because the subjects' parents do not subscribe to any Filipino TV cable channels or watch Filipino news on TV with them.  This means that the subjects have no information or prior interaction or experience relating to the ladies' "personality", talent, work, voice or other appealing characteristic outside the pictures shown them, any single one of which can influence their choice.

The Results

For the first round of voting, all three subjects unanimously voted for Liz.

For the second round of voting, again, all three subjects unanimously voted for Liz.

For the third round of voting, however, the female subject, C, went with Shalani, but the male subjects stuck with Liz.

Summarizing the results, 8 of 9 votes cast by the subjects were for Liz and only 1 of 9 was for Shalani.

But why Liz? 

The mother of one of the subjects posits a theory: The subjects chose Liz because their mothers bear a closer resemblance to her rounder face.

The Contradiction

In an online poll conducted by, 70% of 1,642 votes were cast in favor of Shalani.  What does this mean? 

If Kanazawa is to be believed (his theories and studies are actually very controversial), the subjects' choice should have been more aligned with the online poll.  They are not.  Of course, one can argue, among others, that the experiment's subject pool is very limited while the online poll participants were influenced by other factors which have a bearing on one's definition of beauty or "hotness."  But still!

Who does The Filipino like better?

Cue the drum roll...

Okay, okay, before I reveal my choice, one caveat.

First, I must admit that while Kanazawa may be on to something with his theory, "beauty" is still a mental or intellectual thing for most, including me.  By mental, I mean that in cases where I have two almost comparably beautiful choices, I go for the smarter one or the one I think I can spend years and years talking to, even if this is strictly not about "hotness."  (That's why I would have loved to see Jill Biden as the US First Lady -- she is very beautiful and has a PhD to boot -- even though I did not really support Joe.)

In the Liz v. Shalani debate, both are beautiful but I don't know who is smarter or more "interesting" as a person.  If pure beauty is the test, maybe (just maybe) Shalani has the edge...


I know I can't live with somebody like Shalani and I would have hated seeing her as Philippines' First Lady. 


Because she actually agreed to be the TV co-host of a cockroach -- that's why! 

Got a question for The Filipino?  Email him now at


Amboy said...

Dude, what's wrong with you? How can you confuse "beauty" and "hotness" this badly?

Note the difference: Julia Roberts is beautiful; Kim Kardashian is hot.

I generally like your posts but this is a very disappointing answer.

The Filipino said...

@Amboy: Very good point.

p-nay said...

enjoyed this post and the experiment. couldn't agree more with how 'un-smart' shalani is.

The Filipino said...

@p-nay: Thanks! It would be interesting to find out what the experiment's results would be from a bigger pool of young subjects.

Anonymous said...

Liz is way hotter. But Shalani is more Filipina. Id take Liz anytime, but for Pnoy, I will vote for Shalani.

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