Cartoon Attractiveness

Cartoon characters are generally attractive — in many cases unrealistically so.  However, I would claim that this is not just wish fulfillment or objectification.  The nature of cartoons themselves may actually contribute to their attractiveness.  Namely:

1) Symmetry is easier to draw.  As I recall from the news or from a science museum, body and facial symmetry are attractive.  I would also claim that drawing an asymmetric character and having that character not look goofy (or just plain wrong) is a lot harder than drawing a symmetric character.  So attractiveness is easier to draw.
2) Artists accentuate differences.  A reader or viewer needs to be able to tell characters apart, and so the artist needs to be able to make differences obvious.  One way to do this is by accentuating the differences between males and females — clearly delineating two groups of characters.  So, males will gain larger muscles and squarer jaws, while women will gain larger breasts and hips.  (Increasing ‘male-ness’ and ‘female-ness’ also serves to highlight the sexual or romantic tension that exists in lots of comics, and thus a character or story reason beyond just ‘big gazongas sell comics.’)
3) Clear skin.  Clear skin, free of blemishes, is a sign of health and attractiveness.  Cartoons convey a person with few lines and colors compared to reality.  Similar to a soft focus in film, or airbrushed pictures, the uniformity in color in a cartoon creates the impression of good skin.  An artist will draw a face or a leg without wrinkles or pores, making it inherently better looking.

It’ll be interesting to see if more sophisticated computer generated characters will affect these traits.

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