[W]omen of childbearing age rate other attractive women consistently lower than women who have entered menopause, according to a new study.
This also works in reverse: women can overrate the attractiveness of a not-quite-beautiful woman as well.
I noticed this when my wife sought to match-make her male cousin with a female friend from our church. Unfortunately, I didn't mentally grasp her intentions until it was too late. I could have told her it wouldn't go well.
"Why don't men think that [female friend X] is attractive?" she asked me later.
Let's count the reasons.
1. She's well into her 30s, and this fact is starting to show around the edges.
2. While she's not fat, she's not Hollywood thin either.
3. These two facts are not sufficiently compensated for by other aspects of her appearance.
4. While someone like Φ would be drawn to her maternal qualities should, God forbid, he need to replace his daughters' mother, [male cousin]'s priorities are probably like those of most men in his position.
5. [Male cousin], by Φ's estimation, has both the moxie and the patience to get most of what he wants in this regard.
The surprising thing was that Mrs. Φ didn't perceive all this ahead of time. In contrast to the competitive situation the article describes, I don't see what Mrs. Φ would gain by bad faith, and the fact that she asked me about it later makes it seem like she really didn't understand it.