We are taught that beauty is only skin-deep, that we can be happy and successful even if we do not meet societies ideals of beauty.
But unfortunately, recent research shows that people who are considered more attractive do indeed have an advantage over those who’s looks are not considered as appealing. Attractive people seem to have better job opportunities, higher incomes, and a greater likelihood of success in their dating life.
It’s easy to see why this is the case. While we are constantly told that our non-physical characteristics are the ones that matter, the media seems to celebrate beauty and attractiveness at every possible opportunity. All the lead actors and actresses in high ranking movies and TV-shows are the ones that sport all the qualities of beauty in society’s eyes. Only the very attractive people are portrayed as CEOs, masterminds, and winners in relationships. They are the ones who end up happy and successful when the credits roll. With this being the status of our media, we should not be surprised that even in real life, we are wired to favor the people considered more attractive.
But is there something we lose when we fail to see beauty beyond the physical? Is there something we miss when we refuse to disentangle ourselves from excessive concern about physical beauty? Yes! Yes, there is something we lose. We lose people. And we lose the potential good they could bring into our lives.
The science shows that unattractive people are doomed to live below average lives. Even if they have brilliant brains that can bring revolutionary creations into our world, they will not be given a chance to show this potential. Even if they have hearts of compassion, understanding and self-sacrifice, they would not be given the opportunity to create their own homes and families. They are jettisoned out of society and they take with them the intangible splendor that they could have brought into our world.
Certainly, not a single one of us would want our children and grand-children to have their lives doomed for desolation even before they speak their first words. We would not want them to have their looks decide the kind of life they will have. For that reason we all have the moral obligation to teach ourselves to see beauty and potential beyond physical appearances. We have to learn to see the ever more valuable, more permanent and more important intangible beauty that we all have.
If we attempt to revolutionize our attitudes at an individual level, in time we could effect global change. By changing ourselves first we could be laying the foundation to a better world for the generations to come. Like all valuable change, changing our attitudes towards beauty will take a great deal of time and effort to accomplish.
In teaching ourselves to see intangible beauty, we need to retrain our brains and to adopt new tendencies and mindsets. When we meet new people, and when we interact with those we already know, we should always train ourselves to notice and appreciate their intangible qualities instead of always dwelling on the physical. As we shake hands with new acquaintances we should try to notice that they seem intelligent, friendly, considerate and perceptive, instead of focusing on their less than flawless skin or their less than symmetrical body shape.
We should wonder about their history, their creativity, their values, and their beliefs. We should be curious about how influential they could be to the people in their lives and how much positive change they could bring to our world. As we look into their eyes, we should see the depth and breadth of character that lies beneath instead of making premature conclusions about them based on their appearance.
If we keep exerting ourselves and attempting to change our attitudes in this way, I believe we will be able to finally remove the barrier of physical appearance from our lives. We will teach ourselves to be a more compassionate and inclusive human race. We will create a better world for our posterior and we will learn to love unconditionally.