Most of us are loath to admit that, on occasion, we’ve been to a bar, consumed a few too many pints, and then wound up going home with someone whose face and body look they were created from a crude blueprint in beta testing mode. The excuse: I was wearing beer goggles.”
I can’t say this has ever happened to me. Honest!
Wearing beer goggles has a distinctly identifiable definition. Many confuse beer goggles to mean that you’ve imbibed so much you think you know everything. Sorry. That’s just general drunken idiocy, like a drunken girl I once met who insisted she was a vegetarian despite eating pork, chicken, beef, and obscure game meats. Yes, beer goggles are worn in a drunken state, but they pertain to a particular observable phenomenon. Someone with beer goggles on sees a pickup prospect as considerably more attractive than if the goggles had never been donned.
We’ve all heard the stories. Of course, they’ve never happened to us. It’s always friends of friends. And I swear none of this has ever happened to me! Your friend of a friend puts on a pair of foggy beer goggles and wakes up the next morning with a partner whose hips and stomach are broader than some foreign countries.
There’s a reason they’re called beer goggles, not vodka or scotch or tequila goggles, although if you do the chemistry, those beverages could also impair your faculties enough to put you in equally embarrassing situations you’ll consult a psychotherapist to repress or justify. I had a friend Mike who justified his beer goggle actions.
“She was a pig, but so what? Pigs deserve to have fun, too.” Accepting one’s beer goggle transgressions wholeheartedly is, I’d agree, the best way to get over them.
Consuming stronger alcohols throughout an evening, as compared to beer, is better equated to wearing a blindfold. A prospect can’t look better than s/he is when you can’t see anything. Ultra strong alcoholic beverages tend to knock you out or send you into a toilet stall where you puke and then pass out. You can’t go home with someone regrettable if you’re splayed out on the floor unconscious below a smelly toilet urinal.
Beer keeps enough of the systems intact, though at an impaired strength. Beer goggles let you see something.
Enough about what we can observe. What of the
science? Admittedly, beer goggles are not some pressing concern among the
scientific community. No universities or labs are clamoring for millions of
dollars of research money to test and re-test various theories behind shameful
copulation scenarios. But studies have been conducted. Studies done at two
universities in Scotland (where drinking a stout is the same as drinking mineral
water in other nations) concluded that men and women who’d consumed a moderate
amount of alcohol found the faces of the opposite sex 25% more attractive than
sober people taking the test. What constituted a ‘moderate’ amount of alcohol
was not defined, and there were no tests correlating perceived increased attractiveness to the amount of alcohol ingested.
Homosexuals were not tested in the Scottish studies, so it’s not clear whether the tint of the beer goggles is affected by one’s sexual preferences. But another study conducted at the University of Bristol documented that the subjects found others 10% more attractive after just 15 minutes of sipping – and it didn’t matter which sex they were judging!
Perhaps then alcohol makes everything look more appealing. It could be that dogs, cats, and horses exude a more discernible animal magnetism, as it were, when one is trashed. Yet one more study, this one by the University of Leicester, didn’t test for increased human appeal towards animals, but it did assess whether the adults found the faces of 10-year olds more attractive or less so. Less attractive was the result. Further studies would have to be conducted to gauge whether paedophiles plied with beers would steer clear of their offensive proclivities.
These researchers ascertained that it all came down to symmetry. Sober people can adjudge body symmetry better than the sloshed; and in conventional everyday life, it’s symmetrical face and bodies which hold the most appeal to the most people. In the 1990’s, researchers analyzed the body measurements of Miss America winners from 1923 to 1987 and Playboy centerfolds from 1955-65 and 1976-90. The seductive waist-to-hip ratio (= the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips) fell between 0.68 and 0.71 across all cultures. Faces tend to become more assymetrical as they age, leading to them being perceived as less attractive . . . but less so, apparently, when beer goggles are involved.
That’s one school of thought behind beer goggle technology. There are others. The University of Durham beer goggles contingent says that alcohol doesn’t transform our perceptions of others for the better. We continue to see people as they are. What alcohol does do is lower our inhibitions. There are boundaries we’ve set defining what we normally do and don’t do. Alcohol blurs these boundaries. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a drunkard is more likely to strip, utter offensive comments, urinate in public AND go home with a just-met partner who could be mistaken for an orangutan when under the influence.
It only takes as little as 300 ml of beer before alcohol starts to bond with the receptors of the upper lobes which control your ability to make sound decisions. The more primitive parts of our brains which control our sex drives remain normal. Normal urges coupled with irrational decisions lead you to go home with Frankenstein’s first cousin.
Who’s to say beer goggles don’t have TWO effective modes of action, that the theories combined hold the true answer? Alcohol both impairs your judgment of body symmetries, widening the scope of potential pickup prospects, as well as destroying your inhibitions not to engage in something you’ll regret later.
Indeed, for some people, only one mode may be all it takes for the beer goggles to make an impact. A drunken married man spotting a model at the pub doesn’t see her as less attractive with beer goggles on. He sees her as more so, and with his decreased inhibitions uses her higher assessed attractiveness to justify taking her to a hotel and filming a porn video.
To date, there is only one verifiable preventative for not inadvertently picking up a pair of beer goggles: drinking non-alcoholic beer.