A star was born this week in Stockton, California: Jeremy Meeks, a 30-year-old convicted felon whose hunky mugshot — featuring dreamy slate-blue eyes and chiseled cheekbones — has turned him into a viral heartthrob. “Definitely the sexiest mugshot I’ve ever seen!” gushes one of 16,000-plus comments on the photo, posted on Facebook on Wednesday by the Stockton Police Department. But while no previous arrest photo has attracted this much attention in the two years since the page was set up, according to the department, it’s far from the first time women have gone gaga for a bad guy.
“This is a really great example of an evolutionary lag — how women still find things attractive that don’t necessarily translate well into the modern world,” Vinita Mehta, a Washington, D.C.–based psychotherapist, tells Yahoo Shine. Because while being muscular and tough enough to thrive in dangerous situations might have been necessary for human survival back in caveman times, “these are not the things that help us survive and reproduce today,” notes Mehta, who is writing a book titled “Paleo Love” about how Stone Age genes can complicate modern relationships.
A spate of studies, including a small one in 2012 by psychologist Kristina Durante called “Ovulation Leads Women to Perceive Sexy Cads as Good Dads,” have found hormones to blame for putting looks and edgy charisma over niceness and reliability. Another in 2013 found that a majority of women, perhaps because of those old Stone Age values, most desired men possessing what’s called the “Dark Triad” personality traits of narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism — a seemingly repellant combo of duplicity, insincerity, self-importance, and callousness.
And then, Mehta notes, there are women whose own realities simply draw them to the dark side. “Especially for women who are living on the edge, or under stress, there’s a push toward the bad boy,” she says. “Some follow a ‘faster life’ strategy and are living amid instability, both financially and relationship-wise, and are thinking about the now rather than the long term.”
Other recent criminal objects of affection have included Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who was declared as being “too pretty to be guilty” by one of his slew of online fans; Aurora, Colorado, shooter James Holmes, who inspired a Facebook fan page and piqued the interest of women who found him attractive; and a string of high-profile convicted murderers from Scott Peterson to Ted Bundy to brothers Lyle and Erik Menendez, both of whom have married since entering prison to serve out their life sentences for killing their parents.
Meeks, arrested Wednesday on five weapons charges and one gang-related charge as part of a sweep responding to regional shootings and robberies, was deemed “one of the most violent criminals in the Stockton area” by a police department spokesperson, according to the Associated Press. Though the nature of his previous convictions has not been divulged, his fans on Facebook — where his mugshot has garnered nearly 56,000 likes — don’t seem too concerned with the details.
“I'll bail him out. His sentence will be to live with me for the rest of his life....not to [sic] bad if you ask me,” noted one woman. Other choice comments: “Such a babe,” “He could’ve been a supermodel with those looks,” “OMG boy toy, LOL,” “That’s a good-lookin’ convict,” and “Felon-crush Friday?”
A Jeremy Meeks Facebook community page set up on Thursday already has nearly 33,000 likes. It features various photos of the convict with his son, wife, and mother, Katherine Angier, and projections about his future in the modeling industry. There are also several memes, including one that swaps his face into a Calvin Klein ad, and another that declares he “Steals your heart — and your DVD player.” Angier, meanwhile, has set up a “Free Jeremy” page on GoFundMe in an attempt to raise money toward her son’s $900,000 bail and a "fair trial." She claims he has no gang affiliations and “is being stereotyped due to old tattoos.” Though the tats don’t seem to faze Meeks’s growing collection of admirers.
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