The Perils of Beauty

Leslie’s post “Boys to Gentlemen” over at Segullah got me thinking along a tangential line of thought, which I would like to open up for discussion here.

I remember seeing an ABC John Stossel special once, all about the many advantages the physically beautiful get in life. There’s a written version of the special, called The Ugly Truth about Beauty, here. They ran various tests, and in every situation looks really mattered. For example, they did one where an average looking woman stood by her car at the side of the road, out of gas. Not much in the way of help. Then they had a striking woman do it. Cars screeched to a halt with people wanting to help her; six people actually went to get gas for her. I’m sure these results don’t surprise anyone; this is something we see all around us all our lives.

I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to be strikingly handsome. I had a friend in my freshman BYU ward, a kid from California whom I’ll call “Jacques,” who was basically the most handsome man I’ve ever seen in my life–counting the movies, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, you name it. I’ve sometimes over the years stopped and wondered what my life would have been like if I looked like that. He was so good looking that women would simply melt in his presence. He served a mission, and I could imagine doors opening for him that would have remained shut otherwise. It’s a pleasant little daydream I sometimes indulge in.

Taking it into the professional world, I was doing a deal once when the junior investment banker took me and my senior partner out for dinner. He was black and strikingly handsome. We went to Houstons in Chicago, a steak place that appeared to be a sort of hangout for professional blacks. Jesse Jackson Jr. was there, a friend of our host, and across the aisle from us Jon Kelly was having dinner with a woman (at the time he was a local sportscaster, but he has since gone national). During our dinner together, the waiter kept passing our host slips of paper. Women in the restaurant were sending him their numbers! I’m sure it didn’t help that there is a major imbalance between successful, professional black woman and professional black men in the City. Still, I admit that I was seriously impressed by that guy.

Another time I was doing a deal in Michigan, and one of the other lawyers in the deal had been a running back for the University of Michigan in college. He was very handsome and took care of himself; he looked like he could have stepped right back onto the gridiron. His neck looked like it came from an oak tree. Everyone just tripped over themselves wanting to talk to him.

While I sometimes allow myself the fantasy of wondering what it would be like to be that good looking and have all the perks that come with it, most of the time I realize that God did me a huge favor by granting me ordinary looks only. My friend Jacques was doubly blessed in that he didn’t seem to recognize his own beauty; he was in no sense vain, he was very humble about it and acted like he was nothing special. But if that had been me, I suspect that I would have been very vain indeed and let it all go to my head. For me there would have been a substantial risk of my becoming a huge jerk, because I could and women would still want me and men would still want to be me. Having only average at best looks has forced me in life to really try. I have to do the best with what I’ve got, take care of myself, be nice and genuine and strain to put my best foot forward. No one’s going to ever give me a deal because of my looks; I have to work hard to be the best technically competent attorney I can be.

I’m reminded of this scene from Juno:

Juno: You’re like… the coolest person I’ve ever met and you don’t even have to try.

Paulie: I try really hard actually.

I feel like the Michael Cera character in Juno, in that I’ve always tried really hard. And God in his infinite wisdom created me in such a way that I would have to try hard, that things wouldn’t come too easily to me, so that I would grow from the effort and become a better person than I would have otherwise.

What do you guys think about this? If you could trade, would you take physical beauty over the character that comes from lacking it? For those who are perceived by their peers as in some sense beautiful (don’t be shy, you know who you are!), how do you keep yourselves humble and keep it from going to your head? Or does it kind of mess with you no matter how hard you try not to let it?


  1. nat kelly says:

    I think pretty people have an obligation to level the playing field by making themselves less pretty. :) That’s why I’m about to go to church sans makeup and with a dirty ponytail. That’s more fair, right?

    Haha, jk. Growing up, my relatives all complimented me generously and had me thinking I was super hot movie star material. But they were also so affirming of my other talents, that when I became an adult and realized I wasn’t the hottest thing on the street, it didn’t matter too much anymore.

    Without a doubt, I value mind and heart over looks any day of the week. And while I’m able to appreciate their beauty, those stunningly good-looking people have never seriously drawn me.

  2. I saw the same behaviour when I was at BYU, and I still see it today. It’s a complicated issue; there are evolutionary factors that go into this. There are quite a few studies showing that our typical standards of beauty for women — not being overweight, curvy hips and a slim waistline, and so on — correlate with biological fitness, longevity, and fertility. There are similar links for men between being strong, having thick facial hair, and other typicallty desirable masculine traits. At a certain animalistic level, we’re programmed to desire beautiful people because our brains and hormones see them as ideal for the perpetuation of the species. It makes sense that attractive people would get help from the rest of us; we want these people to survive and reproduce because they have “the right stuff.”

    Evolutionary biology aside, life isn’t just a bowl of cherries for beautiful people, especially beautiful women. Beautiful people are often pre-judged as being shallow or stupid. There’s also the envy factor if they’re seen to be soaking up attention. BYU is an excellent place to observe some pretty fierce mating competition. Beautiful girls often had a hard time making friends, and nasty gossip about pretty girls by girls who felt threatened was very, very common. This animosity isn’t helped by the use of terms like “sweet spirit” to describe overweight or unattractive women who “couldn’t find a man” so they “had to go on a mission.” In general I found a lot of dysfunction in the relationships between women at BYU because of all the competition to bag an RM and get a diamond on the left hand.

  3. One of the quirks of where I live is that I am around some of the most physcially beautiful people in the world. Seriously. A trip to my fancy gym on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood is like a stroll through the Abercrombie and Victoria’s Secret catalogue combined. Some of them are my friends. It’s a fascinating world, but I’ve concluded that on the whole I would not trade places. They tend to struggle with extreme body-image issues (ironically!), and excessive fears of aging. Anecdotely, I believe they have worse challenges than most in maintaining stable relationships. They clearly aren’t happier; in fact many are rather tormented by personal demons. They’re typically not shallow or stupid, however. That’s just envy talking.

    There are studies on this very topic, btw. It has been shown that people on the physical-beauty A-list are less happy than people on the B-list (i.e., reasonably attractive but not gorgeous). Will try and dig up some references on this later, after I get back from the gym…. :)

  4. Mike,
    You are one handsome dude. I’d put you on the “A alternate” list.

  5. I’ve always been impressed that Nephi saw Mary, the mother of Jesus as _most beautiful and fair above all other virgins_. The question of whether physical beauty has meaning seems to be answered by the observation that the mother of the Savior was beautiful — significantly so.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    nat, good point about the role of parents and family in establishing healthy self-esteem in children.

    Molly, you’re right that evolutionary biology plays a big role in our perceptions of beauty. In that ABC program, one of the things they talked about is that women are hard wired to prefer tall men. I remember this in the video version; they gave the short guy an incredible resume, made him out to be a multimillionaire, and so forth, and nothing helped; none of the women would choose him. Afterwards they asked the women if there was anything they could have said to get them to pick the short guy, and they said maybe if they had said the tall ones were serial killers or child molesters. That’s how strong that particularly imperative is hardwired into women.

    And great point about BYU being a kind of living lab for this sort of thing. I hadn’t thought about the problems beautiful women would have making female friends, but that totally makes sense to me. (Any experiences out there from BYU alumnae?)

    Mike, I was hoping you’d chime on this issue. I saw an episode of Millionaire Matchmaker once where one of the millionaires was the type of guy you describe. He was physically good looking and took care of his body, but he was also a narcissist with a capital N, and as you got to know him through the show he was about as unappealing person as one could imagine. All he cared about was himself; it was very unappealing.

    (And I agree with Ronan, I perceive you as quite handsome, but I guess maybe it’s all relative in the West Hollywood context!)

  7. The thing about attractive people getting all sorts of ‘perks’ is that it can create a type of learned helplessness or recklessness. When you can smile your way out of punishments or arduous tasks then you never learn to change your behaviors, or how to really work. Then when the looks fade you find that you’re an old dog having to learn some new tricks, tricks that average looking people learned in their youth.
    I agree with Mike that beautiful people probably do have more challenges in maintaining stable relationships. When your partner is dating your fabulous curves, or chiseled physique then things can easily go south even for reasons other than the fact that beauty fades. Eventually they will discover that there is an actual person inside that beautiful body, and may it is a person they don’t much like.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Starfoxy, thanks, you articulated well some of what I was trying to get at in this post.

  9. Molly Bennion says:

    It’s not just BYU. I still remember reading a 50’s Glamour magazine article “Don’t Envy the Born Beautiful” featuring the difficult personal lives of stars because I instantly thought of my best childhood friend, one of the most beautiful women I have ever known. She was beautiful in 2nd grade and she’s beautiful now. Way too many of the girls were cruel to her from early childhood to college. There were 2 “in” crowd sororities in my high school and those few members who loved her couldn’t get her in. She was smart, supernice and would have fit right in, except…. And she had no shortage of character. From childhood she knew there’s always someone more beautiful, smarter, richer, nicer so let’s just get on with living the best life we can.
    I don’t think we develop more character less beautiful or more poor or less brilliant. Some just become bitter or think they now have a right to get what they want by whatever means. I think we fail to develop good character when we are not taught or do not absorb the rules of good character regardless of our advantages and disadvantages.

  10. Yep, Jones, you can pretty much tell how righteous women are by how beautiful they are.

  11. Kev, if a man’s height has that much pull, then you’re the luckiest man I know. (Or would you say the least lucky?)

  12. Latter-day Guy says:

    “The question of whether physical beauty has meaning seems to be answered by the observation that the mother of the Savior was beautiful — significantly so.”

    Logic FAIL.

  13. In high school, there was another girl in my ward who was “the pretty one,” and I was “the smart one.” On the one hand, like Kevin, I’ve come to appreciate the gifts that came from an internalized identification as _not_ “the pretty one,” but I have to say that that identity was also pretty corrosive, and left scars that may well be permanent.

    I wonder if it’s different for women than for men, especially for Mormon women whose possibilities for achievements other than evolutionary fitness and attractiveness are somewhat circumscribed by the roles prescribed for them in church rhetoric and culture. After all, there are short, rich men, who can be seen as highly successful at providing and presiding, while a woman who fails to attract a mate is unlikely to find compensatory avenues of success. And there’s no question that women’s bodies are more heavily scrutinized than men’s in church (as in the larger culture)–raise your hand if you ever had a deacon’s quorum makeover night, or if your MTC training included a series of special classes on dress and grooming. Yeah, didn’t think so.

  14. “would you take physical beauty over the character that comes from lacking it?” In some ways, I think that great beauty (esp for women) leaves a lot of potential for the most character growth. If I had everyone around me giving me favors, excusing my lack of preparation etc etc b/c of my looks, I would struggle A LOT to work on my weaknesses when everyone around me seemed to be giving me a pass.
    I work in criminal justice – it repulses me how the more attractive women get preferential treatment over the less attractive. From my (very limited) perspective, it seems that the girl needs to be PETITE and somewhat attractive – doesn’t have to be stunning. But the petite factor is the key (can’t be too tall and can’t be anything but slim). Maybe the converse of the attraction of the tale male? Maybe it is just the male judges that I work with but the bias is so blatant sometimes I want to pull my hair out…… (or lose about 8 inches – I’m 5’11 :)).

  15. As a little person, I have felt first hand the pain that Kevin can only hint at.

  16. I think there may be a difference between the sexes and beauty judgements. Beautiful women are often considered less intelligent or have less personality to offer than less beautiful ones, and visa versa. I also think women are often encouraged to seek physical attractiveness over intelligence as a way to get on in the world, while some men are told that intelligence (or I’d subsitute “sucess”) will make them more palatable if they may not be blessed with features mirroring [insert movie star of choice here].

    Like Amanda, I work for law enforcement and see very often how attractive people can be given preferential treatment. Alternatively, my mother is in academia. She takes a great deal of pride in dressing nicely and trying to look pretty. She was turned down a teaching job once because the interviewer said she didn’t look, “Professorial enough.” Not “professional” please note.

  17. Kevin: I’ve sometimes wondered what it would be like to be strikingly handsome.

    Let me assure you: It. Is. AWESOME.

  18. Peter LLC says:

    I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.

  19. This is going to make me sound like a jerk… I’m a looker. Someone needs to represent for us. As proof, since you can’t see me, when my car wouldn’t start a few weeks ago, 10 neighbors stopped to help within an hour.

    The truth is that it’s not all roses. (cue eye roll now) It took me most of my life to come to terms with it.

    As a child, it’s embarassing to be pretty, the way people fawn over you is sickening. My sister resented me. The way men looked at me as an adolescent scared me so much I made myself fat. For the same reason, I kept my face hidden behind my hair throughout my teens. I always stood out, when I wanted to be invisible. The special treatment and attention made me feel guilty, because I didn’t deserve it. Many women don’t like me on sight. Nice men won’t approach me. Most men don’t have enough confidence to be in a relationship with me. Poor me, I know. But I have to work hard to make myself approachable and likeable. I would honestly trade being striking for average-cute.

  20. crickets chirping after JL’s 19

  21. I was sure JL was a dude up until, “Most men don’t have enough confidence to be in a relationship with me.” At that point I began to question. I’m still uncertain, but must say it’s a much more enjoyable read when picturing a guy. Try it.

  22. Stephanie says:

    One of my YW was strikingly beautiful. Just too beautiful for her own good, IMO. I can’t remember exactly what it was now (it’s been a few years), but I remember saying, “I hope I never have a daughter that beautiful”. Now I (finally) have a daughter, and I didn’t need to worry so much – the poor girl looks like me.

  23. Nothing personal to anyone here (except maybe to Geoff J), but I hate pretty people. This is not a righteous hate. I am ugly. At 33, I am very gray. I am also 350 pounds. I always wonder in being the fat guy hurts me in the job process(wondering this a lot as I await news about an interview). Of course, that my parent tell me that my appearance hurts my job prospects likely does not help on the mental end.

    Of course, I am convince of my own brilliance (no matter what others may think) and this helps on the esteem front.

    My dislike of pretty people has helped me on some levels. I never liked John Edwards. A lot of people wondered why I wouldn’t support the candidate talking about poverty and equality. My response: don’t trust him…he is too pretty. I was right on that one.

  24. And to answer to OP, I’ll take a kick A sense of humor over beauty any day, but mostly because I don’t have a choice. I use humor to detract and draw the eyes away from problem areas, much like fat women use loud prints and ruching on a swim suit.

  25. “Why would I want to read anything? I prefer to continue coasting through life on my good looks.”

  26. JL: Most men don’t have enough confidence to be in a relationship with me.

    Oh I totally know what you mean JL. I find that my awesomeness is intimidating to most humans as well.

    (Oddly, I get along with Chris H just swimmingly.)

  27. Geoff, I didn’t know you were good looking until this afternoon. We will see how this plays out.

  28. I think it all depends on upbringing. I’m a very pretty girl, but I didn’t know that until I was about 21 or 22. My mother would always say, “Your older sister is gorgeous, but you and your younger sister are just cute.” Once I came to a realization that I had a leg-up in the looks department, I gained some confidence and started dressing nicer, wearing make-up, flaunting it a little. It’s kind of fun – but I also see plenty of not-so-pretty girls who have amazing bodies to flaunt, so I don’t feel bad about it. However, I will never be able to see my looks as anywhere near the most important part of who I am – its more of a perk. Don’t know if I should thank my mother for that or not…

    And I don’t think I’ve gotten many favors in life because of my looks. Granted, I’m not drop-dead gorgeous. But I’ve also been very shy so that’s probably held me back more than anything.

  29. Yes, well I’m glad you believe my self assessment of my gorgeousness Chris. I see no reason for you to doubt.

  30. After further research on Facebook, Geoff, I do not think I would have a problem with you at all. :)

    (I know the smiley face is frowned up around here, but figured it might be needed).

  31. We posted at the same time, Geoff.

  32. veiled comment says:

    “Hey ugly!” was a comment I heard at the school bus stop and on the playground. Then, when I could finally wear make-up, nobody called me pretty, but the “hey ugly!” stopped.

    Through an odd turn of events in the last few years–getting contacts, a new haircut, losing weight–I am hearing things I never heard before in my life. “You are looking really pretty.” Or, to my husband, “Sir, you have a beautiful wife.”

    I don’t cause car wrecks when I go out or anything, but you bet I notice a difference in how I get treated at stores or restaurants. Would you hate me if I said it was gratifying? Amusing? Confidence-building? Frankly, I’m enjoying this.

    And I’m at an age when people start falling apart.

  33. nat kelly says:

    “I never liked John Edwards. A lot of people wondered why I wouldn’t support the candidate talking about poverty and equality. My response: don’t trust him…he is too pretty. I was right on that one.”

    Sigh. Yes you were. Not all of us were so lucky.

    This laptop I’m currently typing on still has his darn sticker stuck across it. I should probably work on removing that now. Tricky, tricky dirtbags.

  34. Genetics places a big role in how beautiful one is, but I would argue there’s more room for improvement than most realize. Heck, I live in the epicenter of physical self-improvement. All these industries make billions for a reason: it pays off– at least in the short run. (As veiled comment, et. al. note)

    You can make yourself more physically attractive. I’ve got the bleached teeth, LASIK’d corneas, personal trainer created body and expensive hair products to prove it. Ultimately, I’m not a huckuva lot more handsome than my classmates back in school…..but when i go to Michigan for a reunion the difference is striking.

    I think my experience in West Hollywood is strikingly similar to what many LDS women describe, from a psychological perspective. I have never been bothered much by these pressures. I try to laugh about it all.

    Here’s the secret that helped me: Ten years ago I gave up wishing I looked like someone else. It occurred to me that I was never going to be as cute, hunky, whatever, as the others. I decided to never compare myself to anyone ever again. Instead, my goal was going to be only one thing: Try to be the healthiest Mike possible, period. So now my goal is to be optimal MikeInWeHo at age 45. That’s it. Not how I was at 25, and certainly not how anybody else it. I find it tremendously liberating, and ironically, people frequently tell me I look great for my age.

  35. I think one’s sense of one’s own physical appearance has a big impact on confidence–and that might make the difference between, for example, doing well at a job interview or not doing well.
    I got contacts for the first time in my mid-twenties. Without glasses, my confidence level went up. I don’t consider myself at all good looking (although since I’ve never met a girl taller than me, let alone gone on a date with one, height’s not an issue), but losing the glasses helped me feel a little better about my looks.
    That confidence helped me get up the courage to date a couple of amazing girls, and eventually ask one of them to marry me. I also had more confidence during job interviews.
    I went back to school, spent longer hours away from home, and the hard contacts I require no longer work well when I have to wear them eleven hours a day. So I’ve gone back to glasses. But now I have a beautiful wife and a good job, so I have less need for contacts to increase my confidence.

  36. If you could trade, would you take physical beauty over the character that comes from lacking it?

    In a heartbeat.

  37. Kevin Barney says:

    I’ve been away most of the day, but was just able to read these comments. Thanks everyone, I’m learning a lot from them. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences; this is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for.

    JL and others, thank you for contributing to the discussion. I realize in most contexts it’s gauche to acknowledge you’re beautiful, but for purposes of this discussion it’s necessary and appropriate. I know there are really beautiful people on the Nacle, and for this discussion to be complete we need that perspective.

    Personally I am much happier and more self confident with my looks as a 51-year old man than I was as a high school kid. I was a string bean in high school, and I can assure you no girl is interested in the string bean kid. But with age my metabolism has slowed some, and I’m pretty good about working out, and so I’m much happier with my more filled out body than I was with my youthful skinnyness.

  38. no name this time says:

    For me, good looks have been life’s proverbial double edged sword. On the surface the perks seem so nice. I got every job I ever interviewed for, dated every guy I was ever interested in, am still complimented on a daily basis for my looks (even in my mid 40’s), I make friends easily, and am often considered competent based on nothing other than just looking good. I suppose some people would think it’s cool to have been proposed to 6 times in college–but I found it confusing and even a little insulting. Ummm…have we really connected on that level, or are you just all hot n bothered and looking for an eye candy wifey, big fella?

    I actually went on a mission to get away from the attention, having no idea that the whole issue would be magnified ten fold in that strange world. Try being an attractive and curvacious young woman at the MTC. The attention is horrifying and intoxicating at once.

    Unfortunately I bought in to the social narrative about being the pretty girl, the dancer, the actress/singer, and didn’t develop myself on an intellectual level. I am trying to play catch up now, but I am angry with myself for being so cliché–I should have known better, and fought against the stereotype rather than reveling in the attention and praise.

    I try to dress modestly, but no matter what, I have an inherent “come hither” effect, apparently. I seem to give off an inadvertent air of availability, and am propositioned on a regular basis, even in my mid 40’s for crying out loud. Frankly it’s not always easy to carry on with chaste Mormon mommy thoughts when some of the attention is intriguing. My Achilles heel, I guess.

    So, would I trade my looks for the stronger character traites that an average looking gal might develop? Hmmm….sadly probably not. Good looks so often accompany shallowness, don’t they?

  39. The evolutionary arguments are much more complex than given here. Tall = better mate, holds only in some cultures where male height stands as a surrogate for health. It also varies by lots of things, including the stage of menstrual cycle, so there is a lot going on here, (including assessments of just physical attributes one might want in children vis-a-vis how much will this male help me raise those children, and the two might have difference answers). The reason that these studies seem to suggest tall is better, is that often women in general don’t know the males being assessed, so have to make a quick assessment, and tall in past cultural situations tended to mean lots of nutrition, which implied good resource getting skills. Human females can and do make much more complicated assessments of potential mates, and height and raw physical dimensions diminish as a factor as finer assessments of fitness as a potential life helper, father, resource gatherer, etc. are made.

    Plus, not being beautiful, I’m drawn theories that offer me a fighting chance.

  40. “Try being an attractive and curvacious young woman at the MTC.”

    Yeah, I tried that, and in spite of there being nothing about it in the white handbook, my MTC branch president was quite upset.

  41. Kristine (13) – “or if your MTC training included a series of special classes on dress and grooming.”

    While I agree with your overall point, I am going to have to disagree with this being good support for it. For elders, it is very easy to fit the image the church would like for them: wear a dark suit, white shirt, tie, polished shoes, and a conservative coiffure. With very little effort, a young man can look similar to an executive coming out of a boardroom (except for the age factor). On the other hand, the sisters seem to have much more room to deviate from that image, which, frankly, many often do. For some reason questionably washed hair braided in pigtails, a frumpy dress, knee-high socks or tights, and Doc Martins-esque shoes* seem to have become the fashion for many sisters in several missions, including my own and the one my parents presided over. I don’t blame my mission president’s wife or my mom for holding these special meetings, and I don’t think they were held because they were holding the sisters to a higher standard. That, or the elders were getting hosed for not being allowed to wear Dickies and flannels.

    *Granted, walking can be awfully hard in women’s business shoes, but there have to be more attractive alternatives.

  42. I haven’t developed any character as a result of not being beautiful. It’s only made me bitter. Bitterness is my gift. And believe me, it has been a double-edged sword.

  43. In a blind, informal survey I did of my students (~80 of them), all but two boys voted that they would rather marry pretty and be ugly, than vice versa. With the girls, the opposite was true: only a handful of girls voted to be ugly with a handsome husband; the rest preferred personal beauty with an ugly husband.

  44. Starfoxy “he thing about attractive people getting all sorts of ‘perks’ is that it can create a type of learned helplessness or recklessness. ” — a friend of mine who is a linguist mentioned this to me years ago, and ever since I’ve become aware of it, seeing it over and over again.

    Was interesting.

    This entire series of posts is interesting.

  45. Any man who wants to immediately boost their looks by a point or two should go out and get themselves a correctly-fitting suit (read NOT BAGGY!!) and some well-shaped leather (read NOT RUBBER) soled shoes to wear with it. And remember that any points you gain with that suit and shoes will all be lost by putting on a tie with a cartoon character or a spicy condiment on it.

  46. Rusty,
    Tabasco is not a condiment. It’s a sauce, baby.

  47. BerkeleySatsuki says:

    Here’s some happy research results for the nerdy types among us: “The Perfect Man is a Geek with Facial Stubble.” Beauty might be helpful for business and casual relationships, but when it comes to marriage, the geeks are starting to win.

    (Hoping this link works…)

  48. Cynthia L. says:

    I’m Cynthia L. and I approve Rusty’s comment.

    BTW, you can get your suit even snugger fitting if you get the two-vent (Italian-style) jacket rather than single vent in the center back. Mmmm….luscious.

  49. Rusty,
    Any man who wants to immediately boost their looks by a point or two should go out and get themselves a gay friend to provide fashion and grooming tips.

    Just sayin’.

  50. I once had a discussion with BYU roommates on the fact that more attractive people seemed to have a greater chance of having broken the law of chastity. It was not that their looks correlated with a lack of righteousness but that they simply had many more opportunities to date, and not only to date, but to date the cool, often non-Mormon people in high school.

    Of course on the flip side, unattractiveness can help boost one’s chances of keeping the law of chastity. I entered college quite smug about my lip-virginal prudery, but upon further recollection later in life realized that it could have been due more to my intense homeliness and utter lack of opportunity than any righteousness of my part!

  51. Peter LLC says:

    well-shaped leather (read NOT RUBBER) soled shoes

    In my life I have six pair and you know what? My fortunes have not changed a bit since my rubber soled days. If I needed someone to drive my car, ok, having obnoxiously loud footwear might be a good way to announce my presence. But for everyone else, the traction of rubber when you have to run for your life is to be preferred over slippery leather. Basically, just think for yourself and don’t let fashion get in the way of function.

  52. Katie’s right. Homely people should get no credit for keeping the law of chastity, because it’s just no trick at all. For attractive people, on the other hand, it’s a full-time job.

    For example, I have a good friend who is male model material and works as an HVAC repairman. He is often in situations where a woman is the only person home and he is there to do some work. The stories he tells of those situations stagger the mind. Potiphar’s wife is alive and well.

    The same thing is doubly true for attractive women, especially in certain professions. It’s no joke having to constantly fend off propositions, especially when you’re in the position of needing to not offend those who are hitting on you.

  53. Oh, the trials of the handsome cable man and the voluptuous female urologist!

  54. Is god ugly? In the ontological argument for his/her/its existence we get a nice little definition: god is the greatest being we can possibly conceive of. You’d expect then that god would be really really ridiculously good looking. If we’re trying to be like god then we must conclude that each of us would rather be more than less beautiful.

  55. He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

  56. W.W. Phelps says:

    With no apparent beauty,
    That men should him desire,
    He was the promised Savior,
    To purify with fire.

  57. I too have developed a bias against pretty people. I have been proven wrong on so many occasions, you would think I would learn my lesson, but I generally assume that beautiful people are stupid and/or shallow. I’m working on it.

    I do think that attractive women can lose out on dates because they intimidate men, but I am guessing it is balanced by their being asked out more often. I have not known of girls, though, who couldn’t make friends because they were too pretty. I suggest that, if they don’t have any friends, they may have other deficits.

  58. Funny that you should post this right now, Kevin. I have just made the decision last week not to worry so much about trying to become as trim as I was before. When I met my (now ex-)husband, I was 5’11” and 125 lbs., post-mission and practically anorexic despite eating up a storm. Now, after two children and my share of cortisol, I’m the same height, but rather weightier.

    When I was skinny, plenty of men were interested in me. One was so interested that (despite my trying to be careful about just this) he joined the Church because I said I would only marry in the temple. Time proved that my looks were his motivation, he had no interest in my personality or in what it took to build a life as a disciple of Christ and a husband.

    This time around, if there is a this time, I will marry someone who loves ME, not the way I look. And if there is no such man out there for me, I’m far happier single than I was with a shallow, emotionally abusive husband.

    So PFTHBTT on looks, I say.

  59. ClaudiaHen says:

    First comment here.

    Very interesting topic. It is sort of difficult to talk about because admitting you are very pretty automatically discredits you, but here I go anyway.

    I’m very pretty and I mostly enjoy it. I’m also very shy, very intelligent and disgustingly talented (I play the piano quite well, I sew my own clothes from patterns I design, make my own jewelry, anything I try, I can do well). I find it hard to make friends, because I don’t put off a friendly vibe–I have to work hard to overcome my shyness. My mom is in my ward and has told me that several people have told her that they find me intimidating. I went to four different high schools and making friends was a mixed bag–sometimes I was able to do it and sometimes I wasn’t. I’m also a total geek, but you wouldn’t be able to tell looking at me, so it put me in a really weird position socially, as I was too smart for the pretty, popular crowd and the geeky girls generally didn’t want me around because all the boys in the group would develop crushes on me.

    I also find it interesting the different reactions based on the type of beauty. I’m more the willowy, quiet type, and I had to make it clear to men that I was interested before they would ask me out. I’m not particularly sexy, and that makes you much less approachable. I was also never confident enough to really milk my prettiness for all the rewards, but then again, I’m just really pretty, not stunningly beautiful.

  60. Cynthia,
    The entire Italian cut is a nice cut, but I prefer the British cut. Either one works, though, these folks know how to fit a suit to a body. Americans are better at casual which can be seen in the fact that most like to wear their suits too baggy, the shoulders too big, the pants way too loose and too long. Too many American men look like little boys wearing suits too big for them.

    Only if that gay man is ugly (which, let’s face it, is rare), otherwise you’re going to get all the attention and make the straight man feel even worse…

    Just to clarify, people who dress like slobs are free-thinkers and those who buy clothes that fit properly are sheep. Got it.

    (I love that it’s okay to be given a very specific dress code (suit, white shirt, tie) but it’s not okay to suggest ways in which to improve the look of that dress code.)

    But just in case you weren’t aware, it’s not the leather sole per se that makes the shoe attractive, but leather-soled shoes are generally higher quality and better-shaped than their rubber-soled cousins. And if you’re worried about the practicality issue there is still hope, a cobbler can put a rubber patch on the bottom. But he’ll do it only if you admit to him you’re a non-thinking slave to fashion. Or if you give him $15.

  61. ClaudiaHen says:

    Oh, and it does make for some awkward social moments. The first time I met our pediatrician (an older, quiet man, btw), he just starred at me for a few minutes, then told me I looked like Angelina Jolie. It was really weird and I’m still uncomfortable around him.

  62. TaterTot says:

    I am one of those A-list people. I am also 6ft tall. I didn’t have a problem with making friends, but I also grew up in a small town where I went to school with the same people from Kindergarten to 12th grade. I think we knew each other too well to worry about appearances. It was often difficult for me to find a guy who was taller than me.
    Whenever I ventured outside of my home-town I was often told that men were intimidated by me. This always floored me because I didn’t see myself as intimating at all! The result was that I only got asked out by people who had grown up with me, were tall, and knew that I was nice, smart, and fun, or men who didn’t know me, but had a healthy dose of confidence. My husband turned out to be one of the latter, and I am VERY grateful. He is actually about an inch shorter than me, but he loves it!

  63. Peter LLC says:

    Got it.

    Actually, you didn’t (here’s a hint. But it was a pretty oblique and not especially well-executed reference, so I apologize.

    The part about owning a closet full of Rusty-approved shoes is true, however, so consider me the choir.

  64. re: 61
    Thank goodness he wasn’t your gynecologist.

  65. Fascinating stuff. FWIW, a few years ago in my mid twenties, I went from a size 18 to a size 6. The difference in the way people (both men and women) treat me now is jaw-dropping, particularly at church. It’s been an interesting, and depressing, comparison. From being virtually invisible to getting a lot of attention really bums me out – I didn’t change that much on the inside, folks. But I’m sure I do it, too, so I try not to blame people too much.

    On the upside, as a fat girl I had to develop a good sense of humor and the ability to banter. Makes for a good combo now. Whenever people say something along the lines of “Oh, you’re so funny!” I just say, “It’s because I was fat.”

  66. TaterTot says:

    I just had to mention that when my husband was teaching youth sunday school, one of the boys told him that I was “bodacious”. My husband mentioned that in the kid’s non-farewell yesterday. It was pretty funny.

  67. I think its funny that people come in and post that they are considered very attractive.

    Full disclosure. I am probably average at best.

    My wife and I have a friend who is drop dead “10” stunning. She is 30 and looks 18. She is also pretty on the inside as well. People simply cater to her all the time. Its funny to go someplace with her and watch all the men stare at her esp when she has her 4 kids in tow. Her husband is funny about it. He knows he kind of scored so he is always dropping comments about how he got lucky. Her life would be very different if she was less attractive.

  68. If there is still a ‘nacle satire site (Snarkernacle?) they could lift some of these comments verbatim and pass them off as some of the best bloggernacle satire of the past few years. Good stuff.

  69. Steve Evans says:

    Rusty, couldn’t agree more re: clothing. A little tailoring goes a long way, folks. For those in the hinterlands without access to a tailor, I suppose is an ok alternative.

  70. nat kelly says:

    ” 5’11″ and 125 lbs”

    Eek! That sounds painful. I am 5’9, consider myself plenty slender, and am nowhere NEAR 125. I’d say hip hip hooray for your extra weight now.

  71. Randy B. says:

    Sunny: “I was sure JL was a dude up until, “Most men don’t have enough confidence to be in a relationship with me.” At that point I began to question. I’m still uncertain, but must say it’s a much more enjoyable read when picturing a guy. Try it.”

    Not to burst anyone’s bubble, but JL’s the real deal.

  72. Thanks, Nat. :D
    It was pretty scary coming home after not being on a scale for nearly two years, and finding that out. This, despite the fact that I had to teach myself to eat sauces and salad dressings. Unfortunately, now that I enjoy the occasional condiment or dressing, I could really use to cut it out.

    bbell—Note that I never claimed to be pretty. My looks are average at best. But skinny vs. not skinny makes a world of difference, sadly. Also sadly, it took being 10lbs. below healthy weight for me to feel attractive on any level.

  73. She is also pretty on the inside as well.


  74. 71- Wait… you didn’t answer the question. Really a guy or really a girl? Or really attractive? And if the latter is true, does that make your moniker an adjective?

  75. I’m as ugly as the day is long, but I’ve found a surefire way to get people to stop to help me when my car is broke down on the side of the road: I remove all my clothes, go stand out in the middle of the road, and scream at cars coming my way. And on the rare occasions that doesn’t work, I find firearms to be a suitable alternative.

  76. I’m curious how good looks influence grading.

    I knew a very attractive, talented, smart girl at BYU who never showed up for class we were in together – and I got the impression she was going to get an A in the class, regardless of her lack of attendance. She just seemed to be skating along free-and-clear on the basis of good looks and an excellent reputation.

    She clearly had wonderful qualities all around – but the main factor differentiating her from others in the class were in how she looked. So I got the impression that some of us in the class, who weren’t quite as fun to look at, weren’t going to get that kind of free pass.

    I had a few conversations with her and learned something else – this girl almost never paid for lunch. She would just show up and people would offer to pay for her.

  77. I asked out one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen at BYU. I think I’d just aced an exam or something and figured that while I was riding high and my ego could take a hit, why not? Shockingly, she actually said yes. My friends were pretty shocked too. Funny thing is, she said she didn’t get asked out much and seemed excited to be with me.

    Didn’t compute. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, other than she might have been a touch shy.

    I didn’t ask her out again. She was too good looking. I just couldn’t picture good-looking people wanting to start families, and besides, I’d just gotten back from my mission and she made me horny.

    Maybe it sucks to be good-looking and shy.

  78. Oh, and Kristine, I realize I knew you as a teen. I was in the other ward. I never really got to know you — you always seemed to get yourself out of any group before I ever happened to talk to you, but I certainly didn’t think you were ugly. After all, I noticed that you kept disappearing. It’s interesting the images we create of ourselves.

  79. I was relatively good looking in high school; I’m not close to good looking now. 100 lbs. and no height gain, combined with radical hair loss, will do that. I married above myself in the looks department even when I was relatively good looking, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t notice how beautiful I thought she was when I first saw her.

    However, I have a friend who went home the night he met his future wife and told his mother he’d just met the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. She is a wonderful person, but I guarantee nobody else had said that about her prior to that moment.

    “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is true on an individual basis, but everyone knows on the larger, societal level that beauty is culturally defined and widely accepted. Anyone who isn’t at least reasonably attractive based on societal standards better have some other outstanding quality if they want to have any chance to compete with the “objectively beautiful” on an even playing field.

    I don’t think there is any inherent value in being ugly, and I don’t think there is any inherent advantage in gaining character for the ugly. Having said that, I’d rather have character than be stunningly beautiful, but I’d also rather have to develop character than be stunningly ugly. I’m comfortable being formerly moderately attractive and currently physically average – below average.

    I also want to thank everyone for the comments. This has been a fascinating thread.

  80. “I didn’t ask her out again. She was too good looking. I just couldn’t picture good-looking people wanting to start families, and besides, I’d just gotten back from my mission and she made me horny.”

    Dating FAIL.

  81. This post and its threads is lacking an obvious component: PICTURES. So come on, beauties, non-beauties, hunks, and chunks, out with photographic evidence!

    BTW, my spouse who thinks Mo-bloggery is kind of a joke is loving this thread, so please keep it going for his/her sake.

  82. And if the latter is true, does that make your moniker an adjective?

    For those keeping score at home:
    Sunny (74.): 1
    Randy B (71.): 0

  83. nat kelly says:

    Thanks Ray for pointing out the crucial thing (how sad that it took 79 comments?) that beauty is relative and transient.

    My DH describes himself as average in the looks department. When I first met him, I wasn’t swept off my feet by his startling good looks. But after I started to fall in love with him, and he with me, he became the sexiest little thing I’d ever seen. :) I don’t think his face actually changed, but it suddenly became irresistible for me.

    Martin…… did you settle then for dating girls that did NOT make you horny? Doesn’t that sorta defeat the purpose?

  84. oudenos (81),

    This is what all of the male permas at BCC look like, with minor hair and complexion variances.

  85. I’m not just ugly, I’m beyond side-show spectacle repulsive.

    There are only two ways I can get a job – phone interviews, and testimonials. I can’t just be the best person for the job – I have to be the only person who can do the job, sort of a last resort option.

    I’ve learned a lot in life. If anyone is nice or kind to me, it’s because they want something. If I get a calling, it’s only because nobody else will do it. The last time I went hiking, buzzards were circling me overhead, since I looked closer to roadkill than human. I’ve learned that fat jokes are funnier from the pulpit. You don’t have to worry about hurting a fat person’s feelings, because they don’t have souls anyway. I am beneath contempt. I am the modern leper.

    I had a boss a while back who was the polar opposite. Tall, handsome, chiseled jaw, striking silver hair, former pro athlete with an actress wife to boot. He once caused an involuntary sexual response in a colleague of mine just by saying her name in a meeting.

    He once told me how at BYU, he stopped dating altogether because it “wasn’t a challenge”. Admitted how he’d received some pretty darn good promotions and opportunities along the way, because at his firm they’d trot him out to sway female clients, and even most male clients. Promotions came regularly and easily. He also knew that he needed to keep himself looking good, because while he was smart and competent, that wasn’t what kept him paid.

    Working closely with him for a few years, I became convinced that the looks probably weren’t worth it. There were some serious character flaws I found repulsive – he was a master at manipulating people. I’ll never have the huge house, the cars, or the wealth that he does, but I’ve also learned that a life spent worrying what other people think is a life wasted.

  86. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 85
    You sound depressed, Michael.
    “I’m beyond side-show spectacle repulsive” is one of the most self-hating comments I’ve ever read.
    There is help available!

  87. Tall, handsome, chiseled jaw, striking silver hair, former pro athlete with an actress wife to boot. He once caused an involuntary sexual response in a colleague of mine just by saying her name in a meeting.

    I know that guy–he’s the Most Interesting Man in the World.

  88. Disclaimer: I don’t want to be putting “IMO” on every sentence, so I hereby declare that this post is my opinion only and not based on any studies, statistics or any relevant source of information other than my personal experience. Speaking of physical beauty tends to be a touchy subject. I intend my comment to be read in an objective manner and my opinions not to be taken personally. Having said that, I believe beauty can be achieved by everyone.

    Since physical beauty can be defined differently by different people, I want to provide the context of what I consider beautiful. I am a very wellness/fitness oriented person and I have the tendency to equate fitness with beauty. Fit people tend to have well proportioned bodies and younger complexions (compared to their non fit peers). Their faces also tend to be beautiful because in most cases a low body fat percent brings out their facial features provided by their facial bone structure (cheeckbones, nice crease of depuffed eyes, defined jaw bone, etc) and that to me that constitutes a beautiful face, whether male or female.

    Due to a number of factors (such as aging, sedentary lifestyle, neglect, lack of discipline, lack of knowledge and genetics), bodies tend to accumulate fat, and this may rob individuals of their attractive sexual/gender related characteristics. Fat accumulation causes women to lose their very feminine hour glass shape and men to lose their manly broad shoulder V shaped torso. Fat can give men feminine curves such as wide hips/thighs and man boobs (gynecomastia) and rounder/softer feminine facial features. Bodies that are fit (have both good muscle tone and low body fat percent) are also healthier, more energetic and display better posture and proportions. I see fat/obesity as the single most significant factor in people being unappealing/unattractive.

    On the emotional/psychological side, fit people tend to be less stressed, happier and dramatically more confident than people who are out of shape. (Notice the word TEND, I am not saying it is the law, but rather a tendency). Since it is probably hard for the observer to separate an individual’s behavior from their appearance, I believe these emotional/psychological traits will most likely proportionally affect the observer’s perception of the “physical” beauty of a given individual.

    I believe I have lived on both sides of the fence (I have been and felt extremely ugly and I have also been and felt extremely attractive, proportional to my level of fitness), and I have concluded without a particle of a doubt that the grass is greener on the fit/beautiful side, hands down, no questions asked.

    I was an early bloomer. By the time I was 14, I had a very shapely manly figure, well defined and developed muscles, facial hair and chest hair; while my classmates for the most part still had very odd looking bodies typical of the pubertal transition (not really boys anymore, but not really men). I always waited with anticipation for PE class so that I could be stark naked in the locker room and showers to show those boys what a man is supposed to look like (yes I was that arrogant, hehehe). Those were extremely good days, I felt I could do anything.

    By the end of my mission, where I was in a car most of the time and where I was fed lots of yummy Hispanic food, I was about 35 lbs overweight. Those were the most miserable days of my life.

    Later I was back in top shape to portray an athlete in a theater play. I am never going to forget the stark difference on how I have felt about myself and how people have treated me when I have been overweight and when I have been in top shape. The difference has been ridiculous to say the least.

    I have noticed the same phenomenon over and over again all around me. My sisters’ lives are usually full of drama when they are out of shape and full of happiness and progress when they are in shape. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. My best friend had very low self esteem when he was significantly overweight and girls wouldn’t pay attention to him. After having lost a considerable amount of weight, I witnessed first hand how his personality was transformed; his confidence increased and has recently married a beautiful girl. I believe in his case, being in shape/attractive/confident made the difference between not having a family and having one.

    Some people argue that they want someone who loves “them” and not some shallow person who is only after their “looks.” But when it comes to fitness, being that it is a state that requires education, work, discipline, management skills, self love, and God’s help and guidance; I can only say that what we look like (in the context of fitness) does reflect who we are. So, it is only logical to me that people tend to fall in love with people with these good/positive characteristics. It is difficult to be attracted to someone who is insecure, full of drama, with a low self esteem, that hasn’t figured out how to manage his/her life in a way that the discipline to stay healthy/in shape forms one important pillar of their life, among the other things that are also important. These people appear more put together, more reliable and of course, physically and emotionally appealing.

    Happiness is a choice though, and we can always learn to be happy with what we have, knowing we are doing our part… or we can be miserable no matter what we are blessed with. But in the end, I support the view that beautiful people have it better (in every sense).

    Wow, that was probably too much…

  89. Nat — “Martin…… did you settle then for dating girls that did NOT make you horny? Doesn’t that sorta defeat the purpose?”

    I should have said “uncomfortably horny”. One prefers to be comfortable when horny.

  90. I can’t wait to see what Scott B. comes up with for that!

  91. Steve Evans says:

    Stay thirsty, Manuel.

  92. Scott, does that photo apply to the female permas as well, or do you have a different photo for them?

    “He once caused an involuntary sexual response in a colleague of mine just by saying her name in a meeting.”

    That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Sounds like a great business opportunity right there.

  93. Not that I have the coin the purchase from the following purveyor, but I counter Steve’s weak Bonobo’s recommendation above with one where the prices aren’t that much different, but the style is much better:

  94. Re: Michael # 85

    “I’m not just ugly, I’m beyond side-show spectacle repulsive.
    …I looked closer to roadkill than human.”

    These statements are very concerning and extreme and they do reflect self-hate. I agree with MikeInWeHo that help is available. The ultimate person that has to like you and love you is you (Since God does for sure). I pray you can do the things that can empower you to change the things you need to change so that you can love you first. God bless.

  95. One thing about Manuel’s comment above that is interesting.

    Being physically fit takes a good deal of time and energy, the more the older you get. You have to evaluate whether it’s worth the time and energy to stay young and slim, particularly for women post-childbirth.

    I’ve noticed that men in my age range (30’s, give or take a couple years) often claim to be looking for a girl who “takes care of herself physically” (read skinny and attractive) in much the same tone as Manuel uses. They’re often the same men who don’t want high-maintenance wives.

    Small wonder so many have never married. Ya gotta pick, gentlemen.

  96. (That would be comment #88 I was referring to.)

  97. Steve Evans says:

    Wm, I was trying to cater to the weakest among us. Don’t worry, your link is just fine as well.

  98. Love those ads, Scott. Reminds me of this:

  99. SilverRain, there are certainly thin, high-maintenance women out there, but since being fit is often a function of being athletic, I disagree that being thin necessarily equals “high-maintenance.” In other words, no they don’t have to choose between those two things, but they do have to be realistic about their chances if they are not willing to put in the time and efort on their own appearance.

  100. For those with the need to upgrade your wardrobe on the cheap, I offer this:

  101. SilverRain,
    I certainly don’t speak for all men, so others are free to chime in here, but I think you have fundamentally misunderstood what men mean when they talk about not wanting someone who is “high maintenance.”

    This concept does not need to refer to how much effort a woman expends taking care of herself physically through exercise, proper nutrition, and hygiene. Jokes about spending too much time in the bathroom or being late aside, what men mean by “high maintenance” is actually the opposite of that–someone who requires that other people bend and shape themselves in order to meet her demands.

  102. Zackly, Scott. Thanks.

  103. Scott B (#102),

    I agree with you. But I also think SilverRain is on to something.

    Some men expect their wives to look in a certain way or to do certain things and they do not provide any support whatsoever to these ends.

    Being fit, etc, does require people to take a hard look at their priorities and to make sure being fit and healthy is one of them. This does require quite a level of support on many different areas. Whether it is helping significantly around the house or with children so that she can have time and energy to focus on herself; investing in a piece of exercise equipment (such as a treadmill) and perhaps a TV in front of it, or a membership in a health club; or whatever it is necessary so that both can accomplish their goals.

    It is absolutely necessary to sit down and have an open conversation about it so that a realistic plan that encompasses mutual support can be defined and implemented. Being aware that wellness/fitness is a priority and that it will represent sacrifices. It’s an investment (and with excellent returns in the bed and elsewhere if I may add).

    I do know many men that have unrealistic expectations of their wives and at the same time they do not provide any support. If this is what SilverRain understand by the men who don’t want a “high maintenance wife” then I understand her point.

    One usual commonality among people who are fit and are professionals, parents and spouses is this: they do have a network of support around them, the spouse being the most significant link in this network.

  104. The guy in Chicago with the papers coming to him pulled an old business development trick on you. He had the waiter, or a pal of his, bring those to him in front of you guys so you would be impressed. And it worked!

  105. If this is what SilverRain understand by the men who don’t want a “high maintenance wife” then I understand her point.

    Sure, except that we don’t really know what SilverRain meant beyond her choice of the term “high maintenance” which, in common usage, is decidedly about what a person makes others do for them. In this regard, your (103) only describes high maintenance men–a problem, to be sure, but not the one SilverRain is talking about.

  106. #85 Michael- I don’t care what people look at you and think (a life caring about what people think is a life wasted), I’ll just say you are hilarious and my world is better as a result. Thank you and keep it up.

  107. Actually, Manuel was closer to what I meant. (Teach me to use easily-misunderstood shorthand!) What I was specifically had in mind when I made that comment was a collection of observations I have made in the past few years, after my ex mentioned how poorly men in his elders’ quorum spoke about their wives when amongst themselves and not “testifying” over the pulpit.

    There are many examples, but they all boil down to complaining about something that comes with something they want. For example, wanting their wives to keep the house clean, work full time, take care of the bulk of the “children problems”, maintain the yard and garden, and keep themselves physically beautiful all while always being available for extracurricular activities of his choosing. As my now-ex put it, wanting the Martha Stewart in the house and the Madonna in the bedroom; the arm candy that also likes dirt biking.

    Specifically in this case, I was remembering one conversation I overheard wherein two men were complaining almost in the same breath that their wives never had time for them (sexually) and that they didn’t spend enough time “keeping themselves up”, AND complaining that they had to come home after work and help their wives deal with the kids.

    I will say that I’ve heard equally appalling things from women, just not ones as relevant to this post.

  108. And to clarify what I mean by high maintenance, I mean women who take time out of their daily lives to work out. That’s not necessarily what men mean when they use the term “high maintenance” but it is clear from conversations between many single men in my age bracket that they want to have their cake and eat it, too.

  109. MikeInWeHo says:

    “I always waited with anticipation for PE class so that I could be stark naked in the locker room and showers to show those boys what a man is supposed to look like…..”

    Manuel, meet Carlos. Carlos, Manuel.

  110. Well, since my meager looks haven’t really added very much to my overall character, and I haven’t developed any supernal talents or perfected a razor-sharp wit, I’m going with the “Trade-It-In-For Looks!!” baby!

    One thing about those of us who are amazingly average or plain looking: be happy where you are now. I look back at pictures of myself from 20 years ago, and think, “I was actually a little cute then! Why did I hate myself so much!?” So, you might be better off than you think!

  111. 108 Gosh, I hope that your ex-hub wanted the early-nineties madonna. If he’s been jonesing for the 2010-catcher’s mitt-version . . . . *shivers

  112. Peter LLC says:

    suppose is an ok alternative.

    Surely not the online establishment that depicts men in off-the-rack trousers wielding pipe wrenches, standing on jackhammers and holding mops?

  113. MikeInWeHo,
    As great as your comment (110) is (after all, you are the reigning commenter of the year for the bloggernacle), I’m going to have to go ahead and banninate you for 4 minutes for reminding me of Carlos-the-penis-evaluator.

    Please come back when you can behave yourself.

  114. MikeInWeHo #109,

    LOL! The comments are not related whatsoever! What I meant with my comment was that per my experience, as humans we take pride when our looks reflect the ideal of what we are. I would then assume men enjoy looking like manly men, and women enjoy looking like womanly women, and that obesity tends to rob individuals from those looks and therefore those feelings.

  115. And I think my argument is 1000 times more valid than Carlos’ for that matter!

  116. no name this time says:

    I am absolutely floored by the number of people who have admitted to an innate dislike of pretty people. My entire adult life I have grappled with the nagging inclination that this might be why some people seem determined to dislike me despite my best efforts to get to know them or attempts to befriend them. Wow…that is just sad to me.

    Regarding those who think it’s funny that some of us in the thread have actually had the nerve to say we are good looking, or those asking for photos, surely you can see that this kind of conversation just cannot happen sans the annonimity of the Internet. Most good lookers I know don’t sit around chatting about the benefits vs impediments born of our looks. In fact, in many cases, an inordinate amount of effort is expended brushing off the compliments or ignoring the obvious effect we have on people in an effort to try to remain untainted by something so superficial. Besides, speaking in person of such things would be uncomfortable at best, and certainly perceived as conceited or even narcissistic, I think. So I for one am glad for the chance to hash some of this stuff out out on line.

    Some great comments, here. Other comments, not so much. :) Regardless, food for thought…

  117. No name this time:

    If anything I said offended you, I…think you should have your dosage checked.

    I must not really hate pretty people or I wouldn’t be Facebook friends with Steve Evans. Of course, it might be his power more than his looks.

  118. Steve Evans says:

    I friended you?! aw crap.

  119. no name this time says:

    Nope–nothing said has been offensive. Just don’t hate me because I’m beautiful… (sorry, had to say it)

  120. The comments are not related whatsoever!

    Sorry Manuel, but the relation is pretty clear. Carlos observes naked men. You like to be observed by men while naked.

    It’s a match made in the locker room.

  121. “I am absolutely floored by the number of people who have admitted to an innate dislike of pretty people”

    Personally, I’m actually floored there are so many pretty people amongst the denizens of the bloggernacle! Good heavens. Who would have thunk it?

  122. sigh…

  123. Scott (82): I retire with the belt.

    (121): Brings to mind Modern Family and the “moon landing”.

  124. Manuel,
    You can’t “sigh” over this. You lofted up a gigantic softball, so you lose all rights to complain when someone smacks it out of the park.

  125. I know, that’s what I’m sighing about. I brought it upon myself.

  126. no name this time,

    It’s not your looks that make me dislike you — I’m just prejudice against people who don’t have names. It’s a problem I grapple with.

  127. “As my now-ex put it, wanting the Martha Stewart in the house and the Madonna in the bedroom”

    I think I see the problem in your marriage…

  128. Attractiveness is completely subjective, in the real world. I’ve dated guys who were not necessarily handsome on first blush, but over time, as I got to know them, they became very attractive. Personality, sense of humor, character- all those things weigh more than a fair face. A very handsome man quickly becomes unappealing if he is smug, or unkind, or self-referential. And plain man quickly becomes appealing when he is kind, funny and thoughtful. It’s not a complicated recipe.

  129. If only the same were true of women.

  130. MCQ, I’ve been told that if you substitute “got to know them” from Tracy’s 129 with “downed a few beers” then it can work miracles.

    No personal experience there–just t-shirts and bumper stickers, mostly.

  131. Beer Goggles only work for a few hours, then you have to acknowledge the Coyote Ugly and chew your arm off.

  132. Scott, if you want to deny any personal experience with the beer goggles, go ahead. I won’t blow your cover. (Wink, wink).

  133. Sorry, MCQ–you misunderstood me. I was saying that I’ve never experienced the need for beer goggles, since I’m pretty much like the coworker Michael describes in 85.

  134. I think there is a distinction between beauty and another attribute which is a strange combination of attractiveness and confidence. I know people whom I don’t find particularly attractive but who nonetheless non-verbally command attention, and not in the same way as someone with unusual or asymmetric features or as someone with classically beautiful features.

  135. Big talk for a guy whose picture is already up on this webisite. We should have all the women commenters vote and tell us which perma is most like Michael’s coworker.

    On the bright side, you do bear a passing resemblance to the old spice guy.

  136. On second thought, after reviewing the pictures of the male permas, I have to retract that request for a vote. I don’t want to subject any of the women commenters to those pictures. The horror, the horror…

  137. # 110 FTW!

  138. This thread made me think of when my wife wanted to set JL up with a surgeon. She, I and the surgeon all thought JL was thin, but homely. He had gotten into the swing of a surgical practice after working his way through school after having escaped Eastern Europe as a kid.

    As someone who made in the low seven figures a year and wasn’t spending that much of it, it wasn’t like he couldn’t find very pretty women. But even as a non-mormon he was interested in someone who he thought was plain and who was insisting on pre-marriage celibacy because he valued our representation of her ability to think.

    Of course it did help that his private passion was Eastern European religious philosophers and she was (a) religious and (b) a philosophy graduate student. His not being LDS was deal-breaker though, so he did not fly out to New York for a blind date.

    But, on occasion there are still men that will value someone for their mind.

    Until they got to talk with her, a number of people who knew me were surprised at my marrying my wife. They knew me as a guy who was interested in what people were and how they thought. But you can close your eyes around my wife and the ambiance is there.

    That she is gorgeous is just surplus. Though, over time, I’ve come to appreciate it.

    Anyway, interesting reflections this thread has given me.

  139. ethesis,
    Did you just call JL homely? Like, the JL that commented above?

  140. I said we all thought she was somewhat homely, but then none of us has ever seen a picture of her. There was a BBC comment about what she looked like after some bloggesnacker and that was all I had going for a description.

    We all make mistakes. The point of my comment was that on that assumption the guy was interested in meeting her, enough that had she been interested he would have flown out to New York to meet her, based on her mind, not her looks.

    For some people, that is important.

  141. Anyway Scott, what we thought apparently has nothing to do with reality about her appearance. Live and learn.

  142. My apologies to KLS in #10 and anyone else who felt I was equating beauty to righteousness in #5. That was not my intent.

  143. Yeah, I'll be anon too says:

    I have a friend who dated a man who sounded exactly like Manuel, and she’s anorexic now. I know, I know– there’s more going on with her to get an eating disorder than just having a dude who harped on weight and fitness all the time around her; but he was certainly the trigger. I’m just saying…

    I will admit to being reasonably attractive. And I also admit that I get a lot of “freebies” off my looks– If I can get in the door for an interview, I can generally get the job. I went to all my school dances. Etc, etc. It’s been great, and I’m not sure I’d trade it.

    But one of the downsides is, it is really unnerving to walk around downtown SLC. I am hit on by the creepiest guys! I am not so pretty that I intimidate men, but pretty enough to get attention. And quite a lot of that attention is unwanted. I think if I were a good-looking man I would be on top of the world– Most men I know don’t fear they are going to be stalked and raped by the people they attract. Am I wrong?

  144. Can’t get enough of the old spice guy !!! LOVE his voice. Anyway. It’s not just attractive people who get all the perks. Celebrities/pro athletes seem to get the same ‘pass’. Tiger Woods comes to mind. Feelings of entitlement often occur when so many things fall into your lap easily b/c of perceptions of attractiveness. My personal experience w/ my semi-attractive self has been interesting. I am a white woman, but was almost never asked out by white guys (3 white guys EVER). But, black & hispanic men constantly asked me out. And weren’t very subtle about what they thought of me, either. My husband, who is black (go figure), thinks I am too opinionated & have always had too big a butt for white men ! Flattering, yet not.

  145. Can’t get enough of the old spice guy !!! LOVE his voice. Anyway. It’s not just attractive people who get all the perks. Celebrities/pro athletes seem to get the same ‘pass’. Tiger Woods comes to mind. Feelings of entitlement often occur when so many things fall into your lap easily b/c of perceptions of attractiveness/extreme talents. My personal experience w/ my semi-attractive self has been interesting. I am a white woman, but was almost never asked out by white guys (3 white guys EVER). But, black & hispanic men constantly asked me out. And weren’t very subtle about what they thought of me, either. My husband, who is black (go figure), thinks I am too opinionated & have always had too big a butt for white men ! Flattering, yet not. Different cultures & diff. time periods have had diff. standards of attractiveness

  146. Most men I know don’t fear they are going to be stalked and raped by the people they attract. Am I wrong?

    I’ve had several friends who had drinks spiked with GHB or ruffies (although fortunately none were attacked). So I think it happens more than you might think.

    And I’ve had lots of friends “stalked” by girls who wouldn’t take no for an answer. We were joking the other day of some of our worst dates of that sort. i.e. creepy woman who asks us out.

    Dang. It all makes me glad I’m married now.

  147. sorry i’m in here twice – one for black men & 1 for white men ?! hahaha

  148. “I’ve had several friends who had drinks spiked with GHB or ruffies (although fortunately none were attacked). So I think it happens more than you might think.”

    Ruffies? What are ruffies? If the drink was being spiked with some sort of knock-out drug, how was that supposed to work on a guy, exactly? If their drinks got spiked, how do they know if they were attacked or not? Did they pass out? If they didn’t, how did they know that their drinks were spiked? Please explain.

  149. Yeah, I’ll be anon too (of course) # 144

    Wow, I was surprised I hadn’t read this earlier, it took too long to hear from the typical “my friend went anorexic because of a dude harped on weight,” big pile of BS. Yeah, I guess nobody should encourage fitness because that pretty much destroys people, right?

    I stated clearly that I am a wellness and fitness oriented person. People who are obsessed with their bodies, or who go anorexic (or who acquire any other eating disorder or mental disorder for that matter), or who use abusive (even passive aggressive abusive) methods to coerce someone to do something is far outside the context of “wellness and fitness.”

    If you think people like me, who encourage wellness and fitness (and who have helped many other people improve their lives successfully, if you must know) are in the same category than “the dude who harped on your friend’s weight” then I have news for you. Not only are you absolutely wrong, you don’t get what wellness and fitness is all about. And you are probably a social enabler for the regressive and inept “All I want is to be comfortable and my ego well fed” attitude that is killing our generation.

    This is why in a generation of political correctness, easily offended weak of character individuals, video-games, sedentary lifestyles, demanding jobs and people that are literally dying thanks to an obesity pandemic; it is still hard to talk about the big purple elephant in the room: obesity and the proven solutions.

    You know, just like you, I’m just sayin’….

  150. Ruffies? What are ruffies? If the drink was being spiked with some sort of knock-out drug, how was that supposed to work on a guy, exactly?

    Ruffies are a common date-rape drug. And I think Clark was saying that he has friends who are girls.

  151. Scott, that link does not use the word “ruffies” anywhere that I could see, nor did have an entry for “ruffie,” although it did have a reference for a fish called an orange “roughie,” and a date rape drug called a “roofie.” I’m guessing Clark meant the latter.

    As for your assumption about the sex of Clark’s friends, I can’t see how you’re reading his comment that way. He is clearly talking about men being stalked and atacked by women.

  152. I can understand mocking my use of cavorting when I should have used consorting (its nit-picking and annoying, but I can understand it) . . . but if you’re going to start insisting that your spelling of a colloquialism is somehow more correct than anther person’s . . . . . . come on.

  153. MCQ,
    Look under the “recreational drug” section.
    As to Clark’s comment, you’re right–I misread that.

  154. Oh, I thought those women were giving those men “Ruffles” which is really vicious since they are infested with saturated fats!!! Were they trying to kill them??? (lol, ok, I am not that freaky)

  155. B.Russ, right back at ya. “Cavorting” was really funny in that context and so is “ruffie” in this context. It’s not a spelling thing, it just sounds funny. Say it a few times and you’ll see what I mean: ruffie, ruffie, ruffie…

    Not to mention that Clark’s man-friends getting roofied by the agressive stalker girls of Utah county is just too good a story not to get the details on.

  156. Alright, fair enough.

  157. How about getting Rufio-ed which is something like getting gut-stabbed, as I recall? I think that I cried as an adolescent when I saw that beloved Lost Boy get run through.

  158. Maybe that’s what Clark meant.

  159. anon this time, too says:

    WOW. This was the most entertaining set of comments I’ve read here so far. I felt very weird reading them all. I’m just a little bit surprised that beauty has such an impact on people. The only comment I really related to was Tracy’s (129).

    Since people have been so blunt, I will follow suit.

    I’ve had some people profusely compliment me but gee, I never get hit on, don’t get free lunches or any other obvious perks. I don’t think I have trouble making female friends. Men talk to me all the time; they don’t seem intimidated. So, I guess this confirms my suspicion that I’m not gorgeous? These blog comments might be a sort of litmus test.

    I did have an experience once in a sushi restaurant with a friend where some young guys, younger than me, were eating and one of them was having sushi for the first time. He didn’t like what he had ordered so I offered to take it off his hands. He happily obliged. The other gave me his untouched leftovers. (LOL. I’m just realizing now that this could sound gross but to this day I don’t have Hepatitis. I swear it was untouched food that I had, only, and I know because I was sitting next to them.) Afterward my friend joked that I should have asked for their wallets. But, the thing is, I don’t think my looks had much to do with it. I wasn’t wearing any make-up. I wasn’t in fancy clothes. I was friendly and funny and confident.

    I have experienced many people really not liking me very much, years ago, and I have experienced most people liking me. When people didn’t like me it was because of my personality and my expectation that they wouldn’t like me and I wouldn’t like them. Now, I’m someone who likes most people very much and I’m happy and friendly. As a result, people like me. In some ways, I think I’m more attractive than I was when I was younger so I don’t think it’s a case of people having been intimidated in the past. If people go out of their way to help me, it’s because I ask and then I’m very grateful. I think that if people, hot or not, were to ask for raises, for favours, for dates, they just might get them. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence that’s the problem, not looks. And the lack of looks causes the lack of confidence, but that’s still somewhat of a choice. There are all sorts of average people or unattractive people who’ve made it far because they were funny or smart and got their confidence from that.

    I suspect that women who say that they intimidate men are putting something out there besides great breasts. If you expect to be intimidating, you’ll come off uppity. And women who say that other women don’t like them because of their looks? I doubt it’s that. Great looks alone are not enough to make most other women jealous. Great looks and a snobby personality? Certainly. And if you get all dolled up for a women’s-only activity? Uh, ya, you look like you’re trying to be intimidating. Ick.

    I find it completely impossible for me to be attracted to a gorgeous person who is stupid, arrogant, or boring. Matthew McConnaughy and I used to have quite a thing. Then he was on Oprah and he said words and tried to organize them into sentences. I have stopped returning his phone calls ever since.

    The sexiest woman I’ve ever known was a size 14, maybe. She had small breasts and most people would say she had a slightly too-big nose; she certainly thought so. I loved it, however; it was upturned and cute. She had crooked teeth. She thought her back was too broad (it wasn’t). She didn’t wear any make-up. She had many stretch marks on her belly, gone white. She had some lines on her face. She didn’t think she was attractive. This made me very sad because she oozed sex appeal. She looked like a Roman goddess, to me. She felt absolutely delicious under my hands when I held her. I loved her curves. I loved that she had some meat to her. I am a size 6-8. I have long hair where hers was short. I have straight, nice teeth. I have very green eyes and a small nose. I’m dainty where she was not. I have a proportionate figure. And when I met her, I felt completely self-conscious and inferior. To me, she was stunning and I was plain. I just didn’t feel like I had that same oozy quality that she had. And though we are no longer friends and her personality is a real turn-off, she will still always be able to make me weak at the knees.

    (I hope that doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable.)

    I thought that men didn’t care about weight all that much. I’ve always thought that women just think that men care a lot. I have assumed that most men are like me. Sex appeal is sooo much more than ratios and BMI counts, isn’t it? Someone please agree with me! And confidence is about so much more than looks.

  160. anon this time, too says:

    Okay, and the sushi thing– I didn’t say this because I felt self-conscious bragging about how some men were kind of ga-ga over me but now it just sounds like they could have given me free food because I was completely weird and psycho or something. Like, maybe they were afraid. Because I didn’t describe their reactions, just that they gave me food. Ahh, you just had to be there, okay?

    Digging a hole….


  161. (160) “Someone please agree with me! And confidence is about so much more than looks.”

    Agreed completely.

  162. Mike, I like being on the B- list. It’s a safe place to hang out.

    and….i would never go to your gym. that place would give me an eating disorder.

    chris, i’m with you, i don’t like pretty people. don’t trust them.

    kevin, great discussion!

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