I’m guessing many of us either know someone personally or have seen someone in a magazine or on TV and speculated that they’ve only succeeded because of their looks. It might seem to be sour grapes, but those who are exceptionally good-looking, slim, young, blonde, flirtatious can be perceived as having a head start on mere mortals like the rest of us!
Sometimes the bias is unconscious. Children who are especially attractive are pleasing to the eye, trigger a more positive response in the people they meet and so, can grow up basking in the unfettered adoration and good-humoured tolerance of any shortcomings or bad behaviour. This treatment is bound to significantly improve their confidence levels and may even cause them to feel infallible or impervious to negativity, maybe without even realising it.
Friends who are less physically blessed will pick up on this favouritism and regard them as having an unfair advantage, an advantage that no one does anything to rectify. An ‘us and them’ mindset can start, with the development of a jealous and resentful opinion of their favoured chums.
In today’s world, good looks are increasingly celebrated. The images of young/pretty/blonde/slim/glamorous lifestyles are constantly fed to us on social media until eventually, someone says ‘enough’ or ‘what about the rest, and you then see an influx of larger/older/grey-haired people taking their place for a time. After all, those people are a massive potential market too.
But what about the downside of being one of the ‘attractive ones’? Is there such a thing? Certainly, as someone who’s not young, gorgeous or skinny I know that my picture doesn’t get taken as often as my friends who tick those boxes unless I initiate the photocall. For me, I see it as amusing rather than annoying and recognise that those ‘beauties’ have worked hard to look so good.
The downside for them is that good-looking people are often perceived as having an automatic advantage, who’s perhaps only achieved their success due to their physical appearance, rather than by effort, sweat or level of skill.
Is it fair when attractive people are viewed as being too good-looking to be clever?
– There’s a perception that you don’t have to work as hard if you look good and, yes, you might sometimes get a pass because of your physical attributes, but real success requires knowledge, competency and valuable experience, plus lots of hard work. When we hire someone, we expect them to be skilled and capable of working on our behalf. Good looks may give them an edge, but they’ve still got to deliver the goods.
– Bias can work either way, for or against perceived beauty, as different cultures and social groups have varied criteria about what they regard as attractive. For those who’ve had an indulged upbringing, it can be important to move on from being constantly feted and adored for how they look. Living as a ‘beauty’ can mean that they expect to be treated in a certain way and if that stops happening it can be tough to accept.
– An important life lesson is the development of ‘antibodies’ to protect us not only from germs and infection but also from negativity. The antibodies that develop as a consequence of being bullied or from unpleasant experiences teach us about acquiring tougher skin and a more resilient outlook. If we’ve been a ‘golden child’ we may have missed out on learning that important life lesson. Resilience helps us bounce back from rejection, unfairness and difficult knocks.
– Having others assume that you’ve been favoured due to being good-looking, treat you as if you’ve not achieved results through hard work, skills and talents, having them presume that you’ve got a pass because of how you look is both hurtful and disrespectful. Yes, your looks might have brought extra attention your way, just like the wealthy child who may have benefitted from extra tuition or a better school, but the final test is what you achieve through your own efforts and input.
– Indeed, everyone has some talents or attributes that set them ahead of others; some are naturally artistic, especially sporty, tall, good at cooking, quick to pick up languages or technology. We readily accept that we’re not all born alike and value the differences, whilst working on our own good and bad points. Doing our best with what we have is the key to a happier, less stressful life.
– And, don’t forget, a massive downside to constantly looking good is that it often requires much time, money and effort to be committed to maintaining one’s appearance. The discipline required to follow a healthy lifestyle, eat appropriately, maintain the various beauty treatments and keep looking up-to-date is not easy and requires continuous dedication. Not everyone is prepared to consistently maintain that effort.
There are many ways that we can feel discriminated against. It may be because of gender, age, race, health, ethnicity, all of which we can do nothing about. There will always be people who are ready to find fault and offer excuses for their own lack of success whilst obliquely criticising others. Everyone has hurdles to overcome, so let’s choose to use those hurdles to motivate us and show the detractors that we’re coming through, whatever they may say!
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s the author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.