F for effort: Are Irish men just too lazy to scrub up well?
We're the ugliest fellas in the world, according to a new poll. Is it just bad genes, or are we too busy drinking pints to hit the gym?
So, it's official (well, sort of): the ruddy-faced, freckled, style-devoid men of Ireland are the least attractive in the world. That's according to the fountain of knowledge otherwise known as the international dating site, beautifulpeople.com.
The Emerald Isle may have spawned such head-turners as Pierce Brosnan, Cillian Murphy, Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but, if this new research is to be believed, such handsome heroes are the exception rather than the rule.
The rest of us would do well do keep a sensible distance between a mirror and our reflection, so we are to believed - lest we risk shattering the glass and, in the process, confirming our suspicions that perhaps a career in modelling might not be a game-changer.
But is such a generalisation fair game? Do the nation's menfolk really look as though they have escaped en masse from a cave, employed Stevie Wonder as their personal stylist and forsaken grooming for a quick once-over with soap and a splash of water?
Well, let's put it this way: place a pasty Irishman, resplendent in his bootcut jeans, pointy brown lace-ups and replica GAA jersey, in a line-up beside his European cousins and there's little (if any) chance that he'd ever be mistaken for a chic Frenchman, an impeccably groomed, sun-kissed Italian, or even a dapper Englishman, bedecked in his Harris tweeds, straw boater and spit-polished Church's brogues.
Granted, the next generation of men, particularly those in Dublin, are becoming increasingly au fait with an artillery of grooming products: moisturisers, skin cleansers, a plethora of hair-styling products and, whisper it quietly, even the occasional hair-straightener; but their increasing interest in - and expenditure on - their appearance remains something of an anomaly beyond The Pale.
Delve through the average 20 to 30-something professional's off-duty wardrobe and, if he has a Dublin post code, chances are he's the proud owner of a couple of pairs of skinny jeans, a smart blazer for the weekend and a some fitted shirts.
Venture beyond the city limits, however - and, yes, it is something of a generalisation - you're likely to find ill-fitting bríste, novelty socks and scratchy lumberjack shirts.
That's not to say that the average Irishman's resistance to vanity is necessarily a bad thing; after all, there's a certain charm in a man's confidence being such that he doesn't feel the need to subject himself to a daily ritual of pampering and styling that wouldn't look out of place in Zoolander.
But there's a fine line in taking a bit of pride in one's appearance and, quite frankly, not giving a damn. And - lest there be any doubt - it's the former we should be aiming for, especially in light of the less-than-flattering findings of beautifulpeople.com.
But what's holding us Irishmen back on the aesthetic stakes? Aesthetically inferior genes? An innate lack of style? A wholehearted disregard for anything - skin products, grooming treatments - that might possibly compromise our masculinity? Or just a blatant antipathy to how we present ourselves?
"Irish men don't exactly have the best reputation among their peers overseas in the modelling industry," suggest Kohlin Harris, a former booker with Elite Models in London and South Africa. "It's not that they're ugly per se - just that that don't invest much time or effort in their appearance.
"When they're young, Irish men can often hold their own internationally, but as soon as they hit their late teens and above, their lack of any real effort in monitoring their diet and their alcohol consumption takes an inevitable toll.
"As a result, Irish men tend to age badly and far more quickly than many of their European counterparts. It's a downward slope - and speedy one at that!"
Granted, a gnarly finger of blame can be pointed at the twin evils of junk food and a love of cheeky pints, but are there more underlying factors behind Irishmen's less-than-flattering showing in the international beauty stakes?
Perhaps the blame lies firmly at the foot of our genetics? At our delayed adoption of the possibilities of advancement in orthodontics (after all, rotting gums and a snaggletooth are hardly the stuff of a dream date, right?) Or at our alabaster skin that miraculously manages to transform into a shade of pink that wouldn't look out of place on a Dulux colour chart.
And if so, should we really be feeling despondent that our grinning mugs haven't (a) been universally accepted to the notoriously elitist website that is beautifulpeople.com and (b) of those that have, somehow, been deemed worth of membership, few have managed to set the dating world alight?
At the risk of sounding defeatist, isn't there more to life than a picture-perfect smile, cheekbones that could grate cheese and eyes that are deeper than the darkest pools? Perhaps not, should you prioritise aesthetics over, say, charm and personality. But isn't the ability to make a woman laugh recognised as the surest way to a woman's heart, rather than just a face that could launch (rather than sink) a thousand ships?
Indeed, to quote that renowned philosopher and social commentator Derek Zoolander: "I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking." Amen to that!