Adages warn us against judging others solely on physical appearance.
We say looks don’t matter, appearances can be deceiving and books shouldn’t be judged by their covers. However, the reality of such sayings is tough to remember in the face of exceptional beauty.
Under candid, unguarded and often anonymous circumstances, we’ll admit looks can attract and repel.
If the impact of physical beauty seems like a superficial matter, consider that extraordinary attractiveness can often evoke a strong reaction. Maybe we clamor to bask in beauty or find it makes us feel jealous.
Over the years, exceptional beauties have tried to tell the rest of us being gorgeous isn’t easy. Earlier this week, The Cut started a series called “Self/Reflection” with “What It’s Like to Go Through Life as a Really Beautiful Woman.”
The article’s subject is a woman who tells writer Alexa Tsloulis-Reay her looks “definitely opened doors.”
The woman worked as a model, news producer, public relations professional, writer and talk show host. In all, the woman’s education, ability and experiences made her qualified for these roles. However, she believes her looks gave her an added edge.
Such advantages cost her too. She said her looks led men to objectify and resent her, while women envied, attacked and isolated her.
“One of the worst things about being beautiful is that other women absolutely despise you,” said the woman. “I’d think, ‘Women dump on me. Men just want to have sex with me. Who am I?’”
Readers were quick to comment. Some were incredulous she’d dare own her status as a beauty. Who says they’re gorgeous? Who complains about it?
Some demanded pictures, presumably seeking to prove her claims of extreme beauty. Or maybe they wanted to pick her apart — attack physical evidence and deem her average.
Other readers — the minority by my informal count — snapped back at attackers. If beauty could be an asset, they reasoned, it also could be a burden.
Detractors and defenders alike tended to agree beauty opens doors. The woman admitted as much but added this benefit carries a cost.
“I look back over my life and think, ‘What did my looks do for me?’” she said. “They got me a few jobs and a lot of boyfriends, but what else?”
Such responses echo those elicited by similar articles. We may minimize the import of appearance, but we sure have a lot to say when beauty becomes multi-dimensional.
When beauties speak up, we tend to focus on what it says about the individual. We may even go deeper and talk about gender politics — why a woman is more likely than a man to be judged on appearance.
There are moral and spiritual implications.
According to The Cut, the woman’s awareness of her looks became engrained in her early teens, when others began to tell her she was pretty. These comments led her to study her outward beauty. In taking stock, she created an inventory, concluding by societal standards, she was beautiful.
She knew she possessed intellect and abilities, but through positive and negative interactions, the message she heard was her beauty mattered most.
Thus, beauty became a marketable asset. She’s in her late 50s now and says beauty was a commodity. Overall, it’s how she gauges her value.