Beauty advantage or disadvantage?

Published just 3 days ago, Samantha Brick’s article “There Are Downsides to Looking this Pretty – Why Women Hate Me for Being Beautiful” has already stirred up discussion across the world. In the article, Samantha, a British woman now living with her husband in France, discusses the many advantages her beauty has brought her. Because of the advantages and attention her beauty brings, she says she cannot wait for her beauty to fade with age. 

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I heard about this article on the morning news yesterday. Since I just finished my Women’s Studies Capstone on women’s beauty in the workplace, my ears immediately perked up upon hearing this article’s topic. For my capstone I read many articles from multiple fields of study about beauty’s advantages. The article from my research that most reflects Samantha Brick’s sentiments about beauty’s advantages and extra attention is “What is Beautiful is Good and More Accurately Understood: Physical Attractiveness and Accuracy in First Impressions of Personality.” by Lorenzo, Biesanz, and Human. This article explains that the halo effect (ascribing good characteristics to a person you find beautiful) causes people to seek to know people they find attractive. The halo effect is most likely the cause of the extra attention Samantha references in her article. The research from my capstone proved that in many cases beauty is an advantage especially beauty that conforms to societal norms and expectations.

I think this is one of the reasons for the major backlash Samantha’s article received. Beauty is seen as always advantageous. But beauty is not universal. Therefore, the article’s backlash is twofold. First because beauty is not universal, not everyone will agree with Samantha’s assessment of beauty (especially people from other societies). And, second, because beauty is perceived as advantageous, little sympathy will be received for Samantha’s plight.

*Here are a few more articles in case you want to study the subject further:

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2 Responses to Beauty advantage or disadvantage?

  1. Sil says:

    I agree that general standards of beauty are different according to culture. However, it is said that there is one universal standard of facial beauty. That is, when all features on a person’s face are proportional and symmetrical, other people are biologically predisposed to find that person with the “perfect” face attractive regardless of their race, age or gender (see: http://www.facialbeauty.org/article/FacialBeauty.pdf).
    That being said, it seems as though, while men focus on a woman’s physical attributes, they are also judged by women, yet on their professional and financial status instead. Thus, generally speaking, physical attractiveness seems to benefit women more so than men. Therefore, it is only logical that an attractive woman would have to “suffer” being disliked by those less genetically fortunate than herself (it is no wonder that cosmetic surgery is such a huge market nowadays). Which brings up the question: “Do men hate on other men who are more successful and financially wealthy than themselves or do they instead look up to those more fortunate?” We hear about women’s issues and their struggles with physical beauty quite often, but what about the guys?
    Still, going back to Samantha’s “issue,” I can see how it would create some difficulties in holding certain jobs (if the boss is an insecure female) and perhaps forming new friendships (again if the possible friend is an insecure woman who does’t want her friend to steal her thunder). In that sense, and that sense alone, I can sympathize with her. However, if she is indeed having such a hard time in life, wouldn’t her personality then maybe be the culprit? I say this because there are many amazingly beautiful women in the world who seem very well adjusted, loved and successful.

  2. jraez says:

    I think you are on the right track to also question men. But I don’t understand why you changed the question to men’s success and wealth when we are talking about beauty. Can men not also be judged on their beauty? Also, who says that women are not judged by their wealth and success? You would might be interested in the first article I linked to at the bottom of this post. It speaks of physical attractiveness and it’s advantages in the work place for both males and females.

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