Let's face it: attractive people have greater advantages in our society than less attractive people do, and that is unlikely to change any time soon. Although human responses to beauty should not be viewed as prejudiced, people shouldn’t get carried away with their notions of beauty.
We need to recognize that image does matter. (Falcon Writing, Creative Commons)
Looks matter—not because people are superficial or judgmental but because of a human biological response to pay attention to attractiveness. A study
conducted at Rice University of Houston suggests that interviewers in a professional setting tend to remember attractive people more clearly than those who have blemishes or scars on their faces.
Professor Juan Madera, co-author of the study, said that “when looking at another person during a conversation, your attention is naturally directed in a triangular pattern around the eyes and mouth … the more the interviewers attended to stigmatized features on the face, the less they remembered about the candidate's interview content.”
Therefore, humans naturally tend to focus on people's attractive features and become negatively distracted by unsavory looks. This common response to beauty should not be frowned upon or repressed, but instead should be recognized because of its influence on society.
Besides physical beauty, favorable personality traits also add to one's “attractiveness” and thus influence how one is perceived. According to Daniel Hamermesh, author of the book
“Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful,” attractive people tend to carry favorable traits such as confidence and charisma.
that there is a possibility “that beauty and the attractiveness of one’s personality are positively related.” Attractive people can therefore complement their physical traits by also demonstrating personality traits that employers are fond of.
Beyond business environments, attractive people are also given priority or special attention in every-day life. NBC Dateline
secretly filmed two couples who needed help gathering belongings they had dropped on the street. One couple was composed of two models, while the other was composed of two ordinary NBC workers.
The results should not come as a surprise: strangers immediately assisted the two models, while the passersby mostly ignored the NBC workers. This experiment clearly shows that physical beauty does determine, to some extent, the efficiency of the assistance and attention one can receive.
However, this is also the moment when people should check up on their attitude. Favoring attractive people simply because of their looks is not fair to those talented, dedicated individuals who are nevertheless less attractive.
Victoria’s Secret model Cameron Russell
delivered a TED talk
in January in which she discussed the many advantages she has gained on account of her beauty.
“One time,” she said, “I went into a store, and I forgot my money and they gave me the dress for free.” Another time, a police officer pulled Cameron and a friend over for running a red light and he let them go without a ticket.
Cameron explicitly states that she “got these free things” because of her looks, not because of who she is. Consequently, some people pay “a cost for how they look and not who they are.”
Cameron’s words should open up people’s eyes to their own reactions to beauty, which, although often harmless, can also cause unfair favoritism. Recognition of attractiveness is normal in our perception of people, but we should be cognizant of this trait in ourselves so we avoid mistakenly treating attractive people better than everyone else.
Reach Contributor Georgia Soares here