Monday, April 12, 2010

In the eye of the beholder

Sometimes I wish everyone were blind. Of course, that would present a number of difficulties, not the least of which would be the constant need for ice from bumping into walls and each other. (Not that blind people bump into things a lot, I'm just thinking with the number of times I bump into things when I can see, the prospect of me without sight is a bit frightening.)

Anyway, I have had several conversations recently about how much physical appearance matters. Mostly this has been in the context of relationships. Now, I will admit that there has to be some degree of physical attraction to someone you are dating, or would like to date. But should that be the most important factor? For me (and granted, I am a self-proclaimed Odd Duck), personality means so much more than physical appearance, mostly because I see someone's personality reflected in their appearance. Someone who is really good-looking but super shallow and jerky really isn't attractive to me. Depending on the level of rot in their personality, I am sometimes actually repulsed by them. Now, there haven't been that many people who repulse me in my life. I am usually able to see at least some positives. But on the other side, and I think more importantly, someone who is not considered "attractive" by the silly standards of most people, but who has a great personality, can be the most attractive person in the world to me. Would I date a guy who was shorter than me? That was the question posed to me today. If we clicked, if his personality, values, and humor meshed well with mine? Absolutely.

How many people are really able to look beyond outward appearance though? Not many. As I said before, I have had this conversation a lot lately, and most people seem to place a tremendous amount of importance on outward appearance. Even looking beyond relationships, attractive people are treated better a lot of times than unattractive people. We go around judging people by what they look like, how fat or thin, tall or short, young or old they are. It's interesting going out with my hot friends. Very different experience from going out alone. In fact, when I go out alone, I try not to make eye contact...and other people do the same. It works. I did a research paper in my undergraduate social psychology class and learned they have done long term studies regarding outward appearance. Even as children, those considered more visually appealing are treated more deferentially. While a "cute" child being naughty is played off as being precocious, a less attractive child is seen as inherently naughty, and punished accordingly. This happens with teachers, other students, even parents and other adults. Appalling.

Bottom line is, I am super disheartened by the role physical appearance plays in how people are treated, in and out of relationships. I am seriously an optimist by nature, but if my friends can say they would turn down a guy for his height, how can I hold on to hope that any guy could look past my outward appearance and see how amazingly fantastic I am? It's not often you hear someone say, "Hey, check out the personality on that one!" It just makes me sad.

I'll try to bring some funny later in the week. No promises.

1 comment:

  1. I hear you. I too hate how people are judged according to their appearance. I suppose, in a way, it makes sense, because we're all inclined on some level to judge automatically, and appearance is the easiest thing to see. BUT, that shouldn't mean that it has to be the basis of anyone's interactions. Ugh.

    Love you!