It's safe to say that medicine in Westeros is primitive at best. For example, we can conclude from the number of women who die in child birth that the Caesarean section is unknown. Antiseptics are also unknown. In fact, as far as I remember, there isn't really a cure for anything. (Correct me if I'm wrong.) Thus, the best gift a man or a woman can give a child is to make sure the child is born healthy so it is resistant to disease and the ministration of the Maesters. The future parents, as well as the putative grandparents who are making the match, also want the child to be fertile to carry on their dynasty.
So in a society without DNA or blood tests, bone scans, amniocentesis, whatever, how can people tell if a potential mate is healthy and will produce healthy children? That person's looks, that's how.
Scientists who study the science of attraction have determined that symmetry equals health equals beauty. Choosing an attractive mate yields an evolutionary advantage.
Do click on the link, it's full of little gems of information such as:
Borrowing sweaty undershirts from a variety of men, Thornhill offered the shirts to the noses of women, asking for their impressions of the scents. Hands down, the women found the scent of a symmetrical man to be more attractive and desirable, especially if the woman was menstruating.
Not to mention the fact that tall men are considered more attractive and are more likely to have children.
Tyrion is manifestly not symmetrical or tall. He certainly doesn't resemble any of the beautiful women he desires or the woman he married. His condition is also genetic. People,real and fictional, have always recognized that some conditions are hereditary and, depending on Westeros' unusual genetics, some of Tyrion's children will also be dwarves. Dwarfism has many complications that could very well prove fatal without the application of modern medicine (or the intervention of an author who wants a dwarf hero). If written realistically, a pregnant dwarf girl in Westeros would be under a virtual death sentence because her children would have to be delivered by a Caesarian section that she can't get. In addition, based on what GRRM has told us about Tywin's attempt to arrange a marriage for Tyrion, his dwarf daughter and her dwarf brothers would also be unmarriageable and thus unable to benefit the family with a dowry or sword. Tyrion's problem then would be visited on the next generation. Thus even though Tyrion is wealthy, intelligent and heterosexual* he is not a good choice for a husband and father in a medically backward society.
Women who reject Tyrion in favor of a pretty face are not fools or shallow, as Tyrion, Ser Garland* and many posters think. Their preference for handsome will not disappear as they mature (although they might become resigned to ugly, or resort to asoiaf's cures for unhappy wives -- adultery and murder). That's because women are hot-wired by evolution to seek a healthy and genetically-similar mate, which will also be a good-looking mate. Perhaps their genetic memory tells them that they will be happiest married to a man they resemble.
The articles also indicate that men are more likely to be attracted by looks than women. That's certainly reflected in the books where no man wants a girl for her brains or personality.
And c'mon, if real life experience hasn't taught you that attractive people date and marry other attractive people you haven't been getting out enough.
*I think this is why Ser Garland told Tyrion's reluctant bride that he would make a better husband than Loras. Boob. If good looks are needed anywhere, they're needed in the bedroom -- just being willing and able to perform isn't enough.
When I was looking for articles on attraction I stumbled across an article that said that women are more attracted to a longer, thicker penis. Can you imagine writing the grant proposal for that research?
Edited by Sand Snake No. 9, 11 July 2012 - 02:12 AM.