The bell curve of online dating

OkCupid asks male and female users to rate the attractiveness of members of the opposite sex on a six-point scale, in which 0 is the least attractive and 5 is the most. The light line in the nearby chart shows the distribution of female attractiveness as rated by men. As you can see, it is close to a normal distribution–call it the belle curve. That is, the average woman’s looks are “medium,” or 2.5; and so are the median woman’s, as there are approximately the same number above and below the midpoint, with the numbers declining more or less evenly approaching either extreme. …

To see why, consider the most famous bell curve–the one depicting IQ scores. …

What the belle curve suggests is not that men are “fair” in judging female beauty but that female beauty is a natural phenomenon as opposed to a social construct. …

But OkCupid has found an instance in which it does. Male beauty turns out to be distributed quite abnormally.

The second chart is the same as the first, with the sexes reversed: The light line shows the distribution of male attractiveness as rated by women on OkCupid. The average gent, it seems, is quite unsightly. More than a quarter of men are 0’s, and it appears a majority rate 1 or below. “Women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium,” Rudder notes. “Very harsh.”