In an ideal world, good looks appeal to job interviewers, potential mating partners and other situations where good looks can be added as an extra leverage in daily situations. Moreover, successful job interviews mean good jobs, good money, and good life; whereas relationship wise, attractive people attract fellow attractive partners typically with good genes and not to mention good jobs. Being beautiful seems to be rewarding therefore it can be said that good looking people simply have it good as these factors are points of success. But what is success? The question is a subjective one thus each individual have different definitions of success. For instance, those who prefer wealth and high end careers can regard Howard Hughes or Bill Gates as successful whereas others can make an example out of sport and artistic figures or individuals who found career and success with charity. Some might count being with the person of love and having a family with them to be successful; the answer is widely open for discussion but ultimately successful people typically possess strong characteristics such as grit, perseverance, determination and self-confidence.
But are most of them also physically attractive? Various claims have told us that attractive individuals are more successful in career and mating and if that is certainly the case then this notion leaves us with the impression of bias amongst society where the beautiful will always be preferred and others who are not are left with undeserved discrimination. Furthermore, having the phrase ‘Beauty is only skin deep’ thrown around to believe that physical attractiveness is completely superficial has not been warranted. Likewise, the ugly are subsequently placed in a lose-lose situation where the general response to physical attractiveness is innate and unquestionable thus this problem suggests that the ugly are due for extra work in life in contrast to the alleged ‘life-cruiser’ perk that the beautiful possess. So do attractive people really deserve to be more successful and what can the ugly do to justify this?
Attractive people are considered to be more successful, interesting and intelligent than unattractive people (Dion, Berscheid & Walster, 1972). It is hard to ignore the fact how exactly attractive people charms the way they do and why we are fond to what we perceive as attractive has been a long and puzzling matter.
Despite the subjective nature of the question, one element of attractiveness amongst others is facial symmetry as recent studies found that perfectly symmetric faces were more attractive than the original, slightly asymmetric (Perrett et al., 1999; Rhodes et al., 1998, 1999a,b). Rhodes (2005) included in his journal that ‘components of attractiveness may include averageness, symmetry, sexual dimorphism, a pleasant expression, good grooming, youthfulness. The three main components of what determines an attractive face are averageness, symmetry and sexual dimorphism.
These three components play a significant role in determining success rates in mating and career and are present in both male and female faces and across cultures (Rhodes, 2005). Jokela (2009) revealed that attractiveness also increased the cumulative years of marriage in women and men. This suggested that attractiveness improves the interpersonal relationships between males and females because the innate desire for attractive mating partners has been met; saying males prefers beautiful and feminine features in females while females prefers males with attractive bodies and masculine attributes in the facial region which signals dominance and status (Rhodes, 2005).
Moreover, attractive people in workplaces are usually more successful when dealing with interpersonal relations. According to a survey conducted by Elle/MSNBC.com called “Work & Power”, 58% of attractive female bosses got high ratings for being successful at their jobs, while it was 41% for “average-looking” females and only 23% for unattractive females. Furthermore, 61% of attractive male bosses got high ratings for being efficient at their jobs, 41% for average-looking males and then 25% for those classified as unattractive. (businessinsider.com, 2011). As well as their physical traits, attractive individuals also do not lack inner or mental attributes such as confidence, intelligence that assisted in higher job positions and self-assured personality that can make them as a good asset and profitable to the company.
According to Rhodes et al. (2005), males with attractive faces and bodies had more short-term partners than their peers, and males with attractive bodies became sexually active earlier than their peers. Females with more attractive faces had more long-term relationships and became sexually active earlier than their peers. In terms of finding a long term and ideal mate for emotional, sexual and reproductive purposes, this statement does not suggest the success of mating in men but only in women thus the claim for attractive people of both gender’s success in mating is refuted. In addition, there are insufficient data to date to determine whether masculinity is attractive to both males and females (Rhodes, 2005). Furthermore, people searching for a partner to have children with may not be interested in extremely attractive partners, because such partners may be more likely to leave them for another partner to have extra-pair relationships (Boothroyd et al, 2008).
In particular attractiveness is related to higher socioeconomic status (SES) (Dickey-Bryant et al., 1986) and possibly to parental SES (Harper, 2000). This shows that attractiveness is not based entirely on physical attributes but instead rely on the social class of a person. Furthermore, Kanazawa (2004) said in his study that attractive females are more attracted to wealthy men with superior social class while wealthy men are more likely to mate with attractive women. Therefore, attractiveness is not the source for success in this instance but rather that success develops attractiveness amongst people. Although it cannot be argued that with good looks, it is common that attractive people are more confident in presenting themselves ensuring the success of their careers. Nevertheless, such traits should not be ruled out for being present in less attractive individuals.
A new study from Rice University has revealed that job interviewees received bad ratings due to some sort facial disfigurement, proves that it is natural human instinct to have a negative reaction to facial blemishes (Madera & Hebl, 2012). There is also no evidence reporting education failures in less attractive people. Not only that the less attractive people received an indirect unfair treatment from society, the notion of attractiveness ensuring success is completely questionable. In mating, women appeared more demanding than men of particular personality traits in their ideal partners such as assertiveness, mature, relaxed and warm (Little et al., 2006). The findings are not all surprising as personality is more important in female choice as opposed to physical attractiveness which is proposed to be relatively more important to males (Buss & Schmidt, 1993). This clearly suggests that the attractive do not always choose partners based on physical attributes.
People also have the desire to learn the personality and behaviour of a person in order to like them, regardless of how they look. Beauty does not have to be a vital element in successful mating because ‘attractiveness for known faces can reflect nonphysical characteristics, such as how much one likes the person’ (Kniffin & Wilson, 2004). Thus, claims saying the attractive are much more efficient in finding mating partners are not completely true but the success depends more on personal circumstances and preferences. The view of ugly people is bad at everything is a by-product of unjust prejudices and is an unfair claim. Whilst lacking from physical attractiveness, this doesn’t mean that the least attractive people are not capable of doing everything that the beautiful do. With right effort and the elimination of prejudices, ugly people can be as successful as anyone, which is where actual success can actually be measured to determine the merits of it.
In summary, the question of what is attractiveness remains very subjective but research throughout history has told us the same thing over and over again; to possess the trait of physical attractiveness always ensures social and economic upper hand in any situations. It also posed as an unavoidable advantage during mating. Whilst attractive people are expected to ease through the search and mating process, the ugly have to go through more to achieve their desired partners. Although it is easy to forget that looks is not the only quality a good or successful person should possess. Ugly people shall and will remain discriminated but that doesn’t mean they can’t achieve success like beautiful do.
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