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87 Days! - Evolutionary Theories Of Acne



I've been surfing the net, and can I just say that I hate that phrase. Why 'surf' and not 'skate' or 'pogoed'? Surf is quite inappropriate actually, seeing as computers and water is a no-no. Anyway, back to the point, I've been on the net looking at evolutionary explanations of acne. They're just theoretical ideas as they're not backed by any real evidence, but I thought it was all quite interesting. I thought I'd do a little round-up on here; see what you guys think of it all.

Females with acne

  • Young women with acne would not be seen by other women as a social threat, therefore such young women would be able to stealthily climb the social ladder. Upon reaching a better social standing their reproductive prospects would increase, i.e. they could reproduce with males that would pass on better genes to their children and also be better fathers and providers.

    Opposing theory:
    • The unattractiveness of acne deters potential partners, helping to delay reproduction until the person is more mature and will be a better parent. In ancient times many women would die during childbirth due to them being too young to cope, or even cope with childbirth but fail to bring up the child due to being too immature to do so. It would seem acne would be advantageous to the woman.

      Males with acne
      A useful analogy for the following theory: Male Orang-utans in the main are large and very aggressive. About a quarter of male Orang-utans are very short and basically look like adolescents that haven't grown. However, they do very well sexually because many female Orang-utans like these rather gentle, unassuming males and mate with them and have babies with them, which is why a quarter of all males have this trait. The other males don't recognise these 'dwarf males' as competition, so they're quite happy for them to slip along and reproduce with their females when they're not looking because they don't recognise them as sexual threats.
      • The Stone Age was a very dangerous place. The murder, death and violence rate was high. Young people dying of violence was a common event, and one of the things that really caused people to fight and die was fighting over women. Acne takes young men at a time when they are most likely to engage in fights with older men over young women and in a sense it removes them from the equation. They look less attractive and therefore the older men will probably not see them as a threat. And yet actually it may be that some of the young women will still mate with these males because in fact they'd be kind and gentle and self-effacing. But in any case, they're more likely to survive because no one has killed them and when their acne does go they have survived that very dangerous time when older men would see them as a threat. Eventually, when they are finally seen as a threat, they are better equipped to fight.

      Male and Female acne

      [*]Adolescent acne has a role in mate choice. The fact that acne, which is almost universal, is initiated at puberty by the action of pubertal hormones on likely distinct, pro-acne follicles, and typically resolves in one’s early twenties when prefrontal cortex development is complete, suggests that the condition’s timeframe is meaningful. Acne’s noticeable appearance on the face, and its ability to cause disgust and avoidance in observers, suggests a possible role in sexual selection. Far from being a disease, adolescent acne is a normal physiological process, a psychoneuroimmune interaction that functions to ward off potential mates until the afflicted individual is some years past the age of reproductive maturity, and thus emotionally, intellectually, and physically fit to be a parent.

      Obviously there are limitations to these theories:

    [*]It suggests acne is attained only in adolescent years. What about adult acne?

    [*]It suggests people with acne would be bad parents. There are plenty of parents, young and mature, who have acne but are also great parents.

    [*]There are people who suffer from acne who are still attractive and are in/ have experienced healthy relationships.

    [*]It suggests only humans suffer from acne-there are cases of hairless dogs such as the Xoloitzcuintle suffering from acne.

    [*]I'm sure a lot of men would see a man hanging around his girlfriend or wife as a threat, acne or no acne.

    So there you have it, there may be an actual reason behind having acne.

    Credit to all the professors and scientists that came up with these theories.


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All I could surmise from that was that even short Orang-utans get more action than I do. Not sure whether to laugh or cry. Or jump off the roof. :rolleyes:

In the interest of science, I'm willing to go and hang around the girlfriends of some really big guys and see what happens. If I'm not a threat, then perhaps I won't get smacked in the mouth and then volleyed out the door. I'll let you know how I get on... :P

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Hey, apes get more action than a lot of people from what I've heard from Attenborough (he should know, he usually sits and watches said action-strange man) Wow, you're dedicated lol.gif I have nothing to do with the state you come back in!

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Interesting. If it's true it ruins the whole diet is the cause of acne argument. I like the thought that it was a deterrent for reproduction, ergo, if I didn't have acne as a teenager I would be just too attractive, and may die in combat with a competing male. This theory plays well to my ego. ha ha.

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You're so right, it just wouldn't be fair on everyone else if we didn't have acne, would it? We'd all just be too attractive, and how cruel on non-acne guys and girls that would be. If I didn't have acne I'd be holding a baby right now, wondering what I'm supposed to do with it, or I'd killed off by insecure women because I'd obviously be such a threat. Thank you, acne! *phew* lol.gif

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