Many people, especially anthropologists, want to know if the characteristics of beauty are cross-culturally universal or they are culturally specific to certain nations. The attributes of special scholarly interest are people’s physicality, including various features of their faces and bodies. Anthropologists examine the shape and complexion of bodies, the physiognomy, and the expressiveness of faces.
Both biological and cultural evolution play vital roles in the formation of physicality, appearance, and beauty in a specific culture. Let us consider the case of Spanish nationality, which developed based on the considerable mixing of many cultural and physical types of people who came to Spain in various periods of history.
A Cultural Mix Favored Spanish Beauty
Spain has an unusually happy mixture of nationalities of various origins. As Henry Finck noted, the goddess of beauty blended the national colors that comprise the Spanish type of physical appearance. It was a vital factor contributing to Spanish beauty.
As an English historian, Edward Freeman (1823–1892), noted in the late 19th century, when Spain was added to the Roman dominion,
“the only one of the great countries of Europe where the mass of the people were not of the Aryan stock. The greater part of the land was still held by the Iberians, as a small part is even now by their descendants the Basques. But in the central part of the peninsula Celtic tribes had pressed in, and … there were some Phœnician colonies in the south, and some Greek colonies on the east coast. In the time between the first and second Punic Wars, Hamilcar, Hasdrubal, and Hannibal had won all Spain as far as the Ebro for Carthage.”(As cited in Henry Finck, 1887/2019, p. 516).
Adding blood from ancient civilizations like Rome and Greece to the original Spanish stock have been obviously advantageous.
The Goths, Vandals, Suevi, and Moors were among the other nations that successively conquered Spain. Large numbers of Jews and Gypsies also immigrated to Spain. In the 19th century, there were still about 50,000 Gypsies.
Most of these cultures had some beneficial physical traits that evolutionary sexual selection picked up on and passed on. The mixing of races, on the other hand, neutralized and eliminated some of the evolutionary disadvantages in physical characteristics.
And it’s important to remember that this mixing of nations happened very long ago. So it’s no longer a physical mix of different physical types but rather a true “chemical” or physiological fusion. Dissonances and oddities are less likely to occur in Spain as a result of this long story of Spanish cultural evolution. That is a different evolutionary stage than in countries where the mixing of cultures happened more recently.
How Did Different Cultures Shape Spanish Beauty?
Romans, Greeks, Moors, Vandals, Goths, Suevi, Jews, and Gypsies have all contributed to the formation of the Spanish physical type of beauty.
The Goths contributed their robust vigor and masculinity. Gypsies added their intense qualities as brunettes. Arabs contributed their oval faces, dark skin tones, and straight lines separating the nose and forehead. Besides, the Arab impact was evident in small mouths, white teeth, glossy, dark hair, delicate extremities, and gracefully arched feet. And most importantly, their black eyes and long black eyelashes also added to the Spanish physical type of beauty.
So, this evolutionary mixing of various physical types can explain why modern Spaniards are so beautiful.