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Value of Physical Beauty

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Physical beauty is a value. But are you asking if a man can love someone exclusively based on that value, even if all other contradict his own values? I can't imagine how that would be possible, it's usually other things that seal the deal. Physical beauty is just what tends to get men interested originally.

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Physical beauty is a value. But are you asking if a man can love someone exclusively based on that value, even if all other contradict his own values? I can't imagine how that would be possible, it's usually other things that seal the deal. Physical beauty is just what tends to get men interested originally.

Of course there are other values more important than physical beauty. I was just wondering whether physical beauty is a value.

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Of course there are other values more important than physical beauty. I was just wondering whether physical beauty is a value.

It is to me.

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Isn't that subjective? I know different people hold different values. But is physical beauty an objective value as itself?

No not necessarily. Well formed (beautiful) people can reasonably be expected to be healthy, which also indicates that they are reproductively fit.

I value physical fitness which goes together with physical beauty (for me) and is a great indicator of a physically active person, though I did know this woman (peripherally) who "looked" reasonably fit but was really just slim. Other than that she was all flab, no muscle tone <yuck!>.

A woman that takes care of how she looks is also liable to be clean which is another thing I value. Caring for ones self can offer an important glimpse into the persons psychology as well. If she doesn't care how she looks... why? Is there some sort of self-loathing there? Is she obsessive about something else to the point that simple grooming is beyond her?

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Either way, even if some people value it differently than others, it simply means that the value is optional, NOT subjective. There is a huge difference between the two. Any proper value furthers the life of the valuer in some way, even if not everyone has that value.

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When it comes to love, beauty is also the essence of sexual attraction for a man. Though beauty can also be a quality of the persons character the physical aspect is still rather important.

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Isn't that subjective? I know different people hold different values. But is physical beauty an objective value as itself?

An objective value is something you determine through a rational evaluation of facts.

Yes. Beauty is a sign of good health, and it provokes a physical reaction of attraction in the opposite sex. Those are two reasons why it is objectively good for a person to be attractive.

But, if someone were to make a case that there are aspects of "so called beauty" (such as being extremely thin, tattooed, having an inch wide waist, growing lice in your wig, large fake boobs etc.) that are merely the whim of an age, or a subculture, then that would be different from actual, objective attractiveness (that is independent of age and culture), and it would be a subjective value.

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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I asked once a pair of female dieticians, friends of mine: "Could you say that any healthy woman with a normal body mass index (an index that is commonly used by doctors and dieticians to detect people with overweight and obesity, and which related to many health conditions) is a beautiful woman?

They said automatically "No". "A healthy woman with a healhty body mass index, and no deformities or medical conditions, can still be an ugly woman".

I have repeatedly said to my male colleagues and friends, that I find all healthy women to be beautiful. And that I could date, get in love or marry any healthy woman that, additionally, has the values that fit my values.

To support my point, I argue that all healthy women that go through the appropriate makeup, get the proper attire, etc. through professional counseling, look pretty and even could be photographed for a magazine coverpage.

I suspect there is a rational way to value physicial beauty, and an irrational or instintive way to value it, based on our biologic need to ensure fertility or reproductive fitness. This irrational way can also be influenced by ethnocentric appeals (you tend to value more beauty models from your own ethnic or racial group)

For example, using my rational way to value beauty, I can see the beauty of a 40 year old short Chinese woman with small breasts ( I am a white Hispanic) and consider it perfectly equivalent to the beauty of a 20 year old tall white Hispanic with medim size breasts, provided both look healthy, happy, show no deformities, look fit, boast a healthy skin according to their age.

However, if I leave my instincts take the control over my value judgement process, I will be guided to consider dozens of other details that would include some features of their eyes, nose, lips, jaw, neck, teeth, breasts, hands, feet, legs, and very importantly the waist/hip ratio. It is highly likely that I would feel the 20 year old tall white Hispanic more beatiful that the 40 year old short Chinese woman because of personal preferences related to age and ethnicity.

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I suspect there is a rational way to value physicial beauty, and an irrational or instintive way to value it, based on our biologic need to ensure fertility or reproductive fitness. This irrational way can also be influenced by ethnocentric appeals (you tend to value more beauty models from your own ethnic or racial group)

Do you have any evidence of the instinctive nature of my love of beautiful women? Because I can't imagine there's anything instinctive about it. My ability to recognize beautiful women is automatic (no, not instinctual, it's like riding a bike), and my decision to date them is very much a decision, not an instinctual action.

However, if I leave my instincts take the control over my value judgement process, I will be guided to consider dozens of other details that would include some features of their eyes, nose, lips, jaw, neck, teeth, breasts, hands, feet, legs, and very importantly the waist/hip ratio. It is highly likely that I would feel the 20 year old tall white Hispanic more beatiful that the 40 year old short Chinese woman because of personal preferences related to age and ethnicity.

I'm no expert in these things, but those "instincts" of yours are exactly like things I value. (not instinctually, but by at least some degree of choice.--I say some degree, because my values were formed since childhood, and we don't have full control over our childhood)

Edited by Jake_Ellison

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I asked once a pair of female dieticians, friends of mine: "Could you say that any healthy woman with a normal body mass index (an index that is commonly used by doctors and dieticians to detect people with overweight and obesity, and which related to many health conditions) is a beautiful woman?

They said automatically "No". "A healthy woman with a healhty body mass index, and no deformities or medical conditions, can still be an ugly woman".

I agree with that. BMI is not a good measure of anything, and health does not necessarily relate to beauty(of course in some ways it does but you can have an ugly surface and be healthy, and the other way around).

I have repeatedly said to my male colleagues and friends, that I find all healthy women to be beautiful. And that I could date, get in love or marry any healthy woman that, additionally, has the values that fit my values.

To support my point, I argue that all healthy women that go through the appropriate makeup, get the proper attire, etc. through professional counseling, look pretty and even could be photographed for a magazine coverpage.

I think it's true that there are alot of things that can be done to enhance ones beauty. Personally I tend to find the volitional aspect much more attractive than someone who just happened to be born with perfect features and a good waist to hip ratio(though I certainly appreciate such aspects also). However, I don't think all women could end up in a Playboy centerfold.

I suspect there is a rational way to value physicial beauty, and an irrational or instintive way to value it, based on our biologic need to ensure fertility or reproductive fitness. This irrational way can also be influenced by ethnocentric appeals (you tend to value more beauty models from your own ethnic or racial group)

For example, using my rational way to value beauty, I can see the beauty of a 40 year old short Chinese woman with small breasts ( I am a white Hispanic) and consider it perfectly equivalent to the beauty of a 20 year old tall white Hispanic with medim size breasts, provided both look healthy, happy, show no deformities, look fit, boast a healthy skin according to their age.

However, if I leave my instincts take the control over my value judgement process, I will be guided to consider dozens of other details that would include some features of their eyes, nose, lips, jaw, neck, teeth, breasts, hands, feet, legs, and very importantly the waist/hip ratio. It is highly likely that I would feel the 20 year old tall white Hispanic more beatiful that the 40 year old short Chinese woman because of personal preferences related to age and ethnicity.

Why do you coclude that such preferences are instintive and irrational? Would it be irrational to find the 20 year old hispanic lady more attractive? If so, why? I personally like dark eyes, slightly larger than avarage noses, love a delicate neck-to-jaw line, think boobs are great and a nice waist/hip ratio can get all cylinders firing. Is that also irrational, and if so, why? I have a very different explanation than calling it instinctive and irrational, but i'd like to hear your reasoning first.

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An absolutely essential characteristic of love is that you be physically attracted to your partner. That is definitely not the same as beauty though. For definitions of beauty, see the Ayn Rand Lexicon online.

Edited by ex_banana-eater

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I have repeatedly said to my male colleagues and friends, that I find all healthy women to be beautiful.

Here I sense you mean "I find all healthy women physically attractive."

I suppose you would have to define what healthy means to you. Would you consider a woman unhealthy if she had a very hairy upper lip or a large birth mark on the side of her face? What if, she had a huge scar from a dog bite across her jaw, neck, and cheek, would you consider that an "injury" and thus not healthy?

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Too add to discussion:

surveys show that various subtleties tend to affect the evaluation of someone's beauty

for instance, facial symmetry

now that is something totally independent from healthiness

(p.s. i don't recommend looking up what all these subtleties are... you'll most likely just notice flaws in yourself you never noticed before!)

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I agree with that. BMI is not a good measure of anything, and health does not necessarily relate to beauty(of course in some ways it does but you can have an ugly surface and be healthy, and the other way around).

I think it's true that there are alot of things that can be done to enhance ones beauty. Personally I tend to find the volitional aspect much more attractive than someone who just happened to be born with perfect features and a good waist to hip ratio(though I certainly appreciate such aspects also). However, I don't think all women could end up in a Playboy centerfold.

Why do you coclude that such preferences are instintive and irrational? Would it be irrational to find the 20 year old hispanic lady more attractive? If so, why? I personally like dark eyes, slightly larger than avarage noses, love a delicate neck-to-jaw line, think boobs are great and a nice waist/hip ratio can get all cylinders firing. Is that also irrational, and if so, why? I have a very different explanation than calling it instinctive and irrational, but i'd like to hear your reasoning first.

Well, I think many those preferences are embedded in our biology, and hence are not the result of rational thinking.

If I prefer women with a waist to hip diameter ratio of 2:3, this is because at a deep subconcious level my brain interprets those women as "good to bear children without dieing during labor". And even if I am told that I am sterile and unable to have children, I would still prefer a woman with a "nice" waist to hip ratio. Why will I keep that preference, if the logic of having children does not apply anymore as I am the one who has problems with fertility?

Same with breasts. Larger breasts means, at a deep subconcious level: "This woman has accumulated enough fat to survive and breasfeed your children". But even if I am told that those nice breasts are fake (the lady had almost no breasts of her own and had to undergo plastic surgery to help her self-esteem) I would still find them attractive, more atractive than the natural but very small, pendular breasts of other woman.

There is no Aristotelian logic here. Just pure biologic instincts.

Same with lip thickness. Thick lips are more associated with youth, as they become thinner as the woman gets older.

In the case of historical clashes of civilizations, I will tend to appreciate better the racial features of the winners over the ones of the losers, mainly because the winners will impose their cultural view of beauty. In Latin America, for example, those ladies resembling Spaniard features are more "valued" physically than those resembling Indian features.

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Too add to discussion:

surveys show that various subtleties tend to affect the evaluation of someone's beauty

for instance, facial symmetry

now that is something totally independent from healthiness

(p.s. i don't recommend looking up what all these subtleties are... you'll most likely just notice flaws in yourself you never noticed before!)

There's a very simple explanation for that also(and perhaps i'm stating the obvious now). Beauty is harmony, and when it comes to facial features they are by nature incredibly subtle. The variation between people is in fact very small, but we are very good at picking up the differences because it's so important for our communication. Just a small change in the facial muscles can entierly change the mood we percieve in a face. So for example in surveys with digitally altered photographs someone can be made too look more attractive to the opposite sex just by small changes, like a slightly smaller/larger jaw or brow or just improving the symetry a tad bit.

On the other hand, if that would make people notice flaws about themselves it could be mentioned that altering hairstyle and clothing can change the perception quite dramatically also.

Healthwise though i've seen speculations saying that a persons health during the developmental stages can have an effect on how well the features develop.

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Well, I think many those preferences are embedded in our biology, and hence are not the result of rational thinking.

If I prefer women with a waist to hip diameter ratio of 2:3, this is because at a deep subconcious level my brain interprets those women as "good to bear children without dieing during labor". And even if I am told that I am sterile and unable to have children, I would still prefer a woman with a "nice" waist to hip ratio. Why will I keep that preference, if the logic of having children does not apply anymore as I am the one who has problems with fertility?

Same with breasts. Larger breasts means, at a deep subconcious level: "This woman has accumulated enough fat to survive and breasfeed your children". But even if I am told that those nice breasts are fake (the lady had almost no breasts of her own and had to undergo plastic surgery to help her self-esteem) I would still find them attractive, more atractive than the natural but very small, pendular breasts of other woman.

There is no Aristotelian logic here. Just pure biologic instincts.

Same with lip thickness. Thick lips are more associated with youth, as they become thinner as the woman gets older.

In the case of historical clashes of civilizations, I will tend to appreciate better the racial features of the winners over the ones of the losers, mainly because the winners will impose their cultural view of beauty. In Latin America, for example, those ladies resembling Spaniard features are more "valued" physically than those resembling Indian features.

If those preferences are embedded in our biology, wouldn't it be irrational to try and go against it? I mean, if it's hard-wired in me to be attracted to wide hips(actually womens hips arent wider than mens, it's got more to do with fat deposits, but anyway) wouldn't it be rather futile, and possibly lead to unhappiness, to work against that?

I think though that there's alot of speculation and bologne to such claims. However it could explain why I find it so hard to think when i'm confronted with a nice cleavage. But the survival value of such things are probably pretty limited(boob size is not very important, for example), and hell... a cavewoman is not something any many today would pursue - it's something to run from. :)

What we respond to is what we regard as being feminine. Boobs, waist/hip ratio, bigger eyes, fuller lips, delicate jawline, longer neck, more slender features etc. are generally more feminine. Men tend to have stronger jaws and brows, broader shoulder, more muscle(especially in their upper bodies). Of course our biology has set up those differences, but we still make our own evaluations of them. Some of them, like Jake mentioned, are formed from an early age. Ultimately though are preferences are evaluations of different aspects of femininity.

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Look at a woman’s "physical beauty" in the sense of your experience. Think of the ebb and flow.

You see a beautiful woman, and being confident, you walk up and start talking to her. You find out that she is a moron. I mean she has limited mental capability. You will see as being less beautiful.

Or rather she is a mean, vindictive, complaining person. You will no longer see her to be as beautiful as before. And so on.

Personality plays a big role in beauty. Yes, models and other professions learn to project certain mental feature. The best appear intelligent and sensual. It is an image. If you find that they are not intelligent or sensual or have other stupidities, you will no longer see them as being as beautiful.

In another direction entirely, I remember from a few years ago that some people had developed programs that took women's faces and blended them together to get an average face. The result tended to be very attractive. Female beauty is the average.

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If those preferences are embedded in our biology, wouldn't it be irrational to try and go against it? I mean, if it's hard-wired in me to be attracted to wide hips(actually womens hips arent wider than mens, it's got more to do with fat deposits, but anyway) wouldn't it be rather futile, and possibly lead to unhappiness, to work against that?

I did not use the word irrational with a negative meaning. I just used it as a descriptive term.

Maybe I could use the word non-rational instead.

We have instincts, drives. These I call irrational as they do not depend on reason.

But of course I must be aware as much as possible of their existence, and command them, so that they serve my rational values and goals.

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I mean, if it's hard-wired in me to be attracted to wide hips(actually womens hips arent wider than mens, it's got more to do with fat deposits, but anyway)

This is inaccurate. The entire pelvic bone in a woman's body is constructed differently from a man's pelvis, the bones are angled differently, and, yes, many women have wider pelvic bones in proportion to their body height than men. However, as with most anatomy the variation between women is quite large.

It is also inaccurate to describe ANY preferences in terms of hard-wiring, which anyone who thinks for two seconds together would realize. Preferences are psychological in origin, not physiological. When it comes to physical attractiveness, most people prefer traits that they've seen elsewhere in people that they like or who they generally esteem in some way for some reason. For a lot of people, this is a passive absorption of whatever other people seem to value (hence the blind desire for the 'popular girl' or guy that so many seem to experience in their teenage years).

People with mature, sophisticated, self-driven evaluations will very often change their minor preferences when they come into contact with a new person they like. I can see the attractive qualities of many traits in different contexts and on different men, from the bald to the hirsute, the smooth-faced to the craggy, the tall and lanky to the short and stocky. My *default* preferences tend toward tall and lean, and if you were to ask for a picture of my "ideal man" you'd get something along those lines, but I'm not irrevocably tied to it any more than men are. I think most men just have a much stronger emotional reaction than I do, so they feel the pull of their default preferences much more strongly.

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Look at a woman’s "physical beauty" in the sense of your experience. Think of the ebb and flow.

You see a beautiful woman, and being confident, you walk up and start talking to her. You find out that she is a moron. I mean she has limited mental capability. You will see as being less beautiful.

Or rather she is a mean, vindictive, complaining person. You will no longer see her to be as beautiful as before. And so on.

Personality plays a big role in beauty. Yes, models and other professions learn to project certain mental feature. The best appear intelligent and sensual. It is an image. If you find that they are not intelligent or sensual or have other stupidities, you will no longer see them as being as beautiful.

This largely agrees with my experience. My estimates of a person's physical beauty and/or attractiveness (because they are not one in the same thing for me necessarily) depend largely on estimates of their character in addition to estimates of certain standards of health. My estimate of how good or bad somebody looks can be strongly influenced by changes in perceptions of their character. Generally, if somebody looks to be reasonably healthy, takes care of themself, and seems to have a good personality from what I can tell so far, they'll get favorable estimates of how they look as far as beauty goes. Beauty by the way I can judge in people without it having any kind of attraction for me, much like I may judge a vase to be beautiful but not find it attractive. I need to find more personally appealing qualities in a person, things that speak to very "me specific" values rather than just good things in general before somebody can be attractive. On the other hand, somebody can be very attractive to me for having many things that I personally value about them while they may lack more in things like looking particularly healthy which would contribute to somebody being found beautiful. Thus, I can be very attracted to somebody who I wouldn't say is necessarily especially beautiful (yes, that it includes finding them to be still especially physically attractive in spite of not estimating them to be very beautiful) or find somebody very beautiful but not at all attractive. Two separate things and each can change based on estimates of the person who that body belongs to.

In another direction entirely, I remember from a few years ago that some people had developed programs that took women's faces and blended them together to get an average face. The result tended to be very attractive. Female beauty is the average.
This I've seen some criticisms of. For example, when they blend the facial features, often things get mushed out like blemishes and scars, uneven skin tones and maybe some exceptional not so good qualities like having a really big nose and stuff like that get dropped out so that it isn't that being average is necessarily so attractive so much as that when they averaged it, some of the less attractive features which had stood out for how bad they were got lost. Also, the averaged result tended to be more symmetrical I think was said too, so that isn't so much saying average is attractive so much as going back to the already known pleasing quality of the facial symmetry, whether such is average or not.

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I did not use the word irrational with a negative meaning. I just used it as a descriptive term.

Maybe I could use the word non-rational instead.

We have instincts, drives. These I call irrational as they do not depend on reason.

But of course I must be aware as much as possible of their existence, and command them, so that they serve my rational values and goals.

You're confusing reason with conscious decisions. For instance, I learned to touch type a while back. Now, I just touch a keyboard and my thoughts just fill the page, without me ever thinking about the typing part. The same applies to speaking, walking, riding a bike, looking both ways before I cross a street, deciding who is attractive and who isn't, etc. None of these things are hard wired into me, they are all the result of a process of learning. They're not irrational, they're not instincts, and they're not drives.

If you can't prove that they are instincts or drives, you shouldn't say they are anymore. The emotional reaction men have when they find someone beautiful (hupefully beyond just physically, when they are actually attracted to a person), is not instinctual, it's emotional, and it is based on values that can be either chosen rationally or irrationally. But you're not born with them, they're not part of your anatomy, they are man made.

You can refine these preferences, adjust them, but I don't see how you'd change them completely, any more than you can change being gay. The only question is, would it be rational to follow them to some extent, however small, or would it be rational to ignore them completely. Whatever the answer is, I see no reason why you wouldn't also apply it to being gay. If you think it is universally rational for men to value women who have great charcater attributes, then you certainly can't leave one group of men to be attracted to men with well toned muscles, just because of their silly preferences.

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Isn't that subjective? I know different people hold different values. But is physical beauty an objective value as itself?

It would be instructive to read Ayn Rand's own words on the concept of value:

("Value” is that which one acts to gain and keep, “virtue” is the action by which one gains and keeps it. “Value” presupposes an answer to the question: of value to whom and for what? “Value” presupposes a standard, a purpose and the necessity of action in the face of an alternative. Where there are no alternatives, no values are possible.)

From the above, one can conclude that nothing is a value in and of itself. The concept presupposes a valuer.

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This is inaccurate. The entire pelvic bone in a woman's body is constructed differently from a man's pelvis, the bones are angled differently, and, yes, many women have wider pelvic bones in proportion to their body height than men. However, as with most anatomy the variation between women is quite large.

Yes, they are shaped differently but side by side it would be tough to tell them apart based on size - atleast the ones i've seen. Individual differences tend to play a much bigger part here. However, women tend to have smaller waists and store more fat on the side of their thighs, which often creates a nice curve around the hip.

It is also inaccurate to describe ANY preferences in terms of hard-wiring, which anyone who thinks for two seconds together would realize. Preferences are psychological in origin, not physiological. When it comes to physical attractiveness, most people prefer traits that they've seen elsewhere in people that they like or who they generally esteem in some way for some reason. For a lot of people, this is a passive absorption of whatever other people seem to value (hence the blind desire for the 'popular girl' or guy that so many seem to experience in their teenage years).

I agree, and just to clarify... I was trying to argue against preferences being "hard-wired", or instinctive, as I don't really believe in that and think it goes against the concept of free will.

People with mature, sophisticated, self-driven evaluations will very often change their minor preferences when they come into contact with a new person they like. I can see the attractive qualities of many traits in different contexts and on different men, from the bald to the hirsute, the smooth-faced to the craggy, the tall and lanky to the short and stocky. My *default* preferences tend toward tall and lean, and if you were to ask for a picture of my "ideal man" you'd get something along those lines, but I'm not irrevocably tied to it any more than men are. I think most men just have a much stronger emotional reaction than I do, so they feel the pull of their default preferences much more strongly.

Yes, men are more visually oriented and we look for very different qualities. A man does not have be easy on the eyes, handsome or pretty to appear masculine, but similar qualities are important for a woman to appear feminine. An interesting thing with looks though is that it seems like men and women respond in a very similar way to it, the difference seems to be mostly in the strength of the reaction. That response seems to make the person more inclined towards being the sexual agressor. It makes men more inclined to go over there and talk to the woman, and women often respond the same way towards good looking men(though it's much more rare that they act upon it). However, while we like to be the sexual "agressor", women generally don't. Women are rather sexually responsive, and no matter how good looking the man, looks alone will never take her there. On the other hand, a gorgeous and seductive woman could make quite alot of men completely loose their minds.

I agree however that minor preferences can change depending on the person. Which is a good thing because the ideal partner is not something one can order according to specifications on Ebay. I mean, if I came across a great woman I wouldn't go; "Nahh... I don't know... she's wonderfull and all that, but i'm not sure about the green eyes, and she's got a crooked tooth - her elbows are sharp too...". :ninja:

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