Thoughts on Beauty
When I was a teenager I read a biography of George Bernard Shaw. (My Fair Lady is adapted from one of his plays.) The playwright was asked to compare the two great actresses of the day who were then appearing in London. One actress was the gorgeous Sarah Bernhardt and the other was the less than gorgeous Italian actress, Elenora Duse. When asked by a friend who he preferred, GBS said that he preferred the Italian: "Her wrinkles are the credentials of her humanity."
But not all people are as perceptive at judging a person's true worth as was GBS. Most of us judge people, at least on first encounter, by how they look. Research has indicated that women are no less prone to do this than men. And this judgment based on looks does not just apply to grown-ups. A few years ago when I was taking the train (the "L") down to the Chicago Loop, I was standing next to a woman carrying her baby daughter in her arms. The baby could not take her eyes off a beautiful African-American girl who was about 13 years old and standing with her less than beautiful friends. The baby reached out and took hold of the teenage girl's finger and would not let go of it. It was love at first sight - based on beauty.
There is no doubt that looks count. I'm sure you've seen articles about how people with good faces and good bodies make more money, make more friends, and have more sex. This is obvious. What is not obvious (and not fair) is that kids with good looks get on better even with their parents and teachers.
Does all this mean that the less beautiful and less good-looking are lost? I hope not. Most of us eventually find mates and get jobs that are at least tolerable. But the really beautiful do seem to have a leg up even though physical beauty says nothing about moral worth or depth of personality.
But then there was the Sunday matinee of Cole Porter's Anything Goes at the high school in Hilliard, Ohio where I live. The young girl with braces on her teeth who played the ingénue was ordinary looking. The well-bred suburban girls of the chorus-line were world-class beauties. Yet all eyes were on this fine teenage actress who reached out and grabbed the audience with her charm, talent, and warmth. So are all these social scientists who do the studies on beauty and success missing something - that intangible thing that certain people have that lights up a room and people's hearts?
Faces That Communicate
When I was waiting in line at the post office to mail a package, I saw a two-year old girl flirting shamelessly with a handsome old man. The little girl was standing with her mother who had a lot of packages. This little girl holding her doll had eyes only for the 80-year-old guy with an incredibly expressive, handsome face.
Probably our fascination with faces is inborn. It's right in the DNA. This fascination continues throughout our lives. Old grandparents single out for special affection good-looking grandchildren.
Continue to - Nutrition
Premenopausal women usually have a softer look than men of the same age because they have more fat on their cheeks. This deposit of fat is responsible for the appearance of higher cheekbones.
But as women get older the changing ratio of estrogen to testosterone alters their faces. They become more angular, less feminine.
Women's faces are not as large as men's faces: there is less bone mass. This together with higher eyebrows makes a woman's eyes appear larger, even though in reality they are no larger than men's eyes.
Our face not only affects the way people respond to us, it affects the way we experience ourselves. In other words, our face defines us to the world and often defines us to ourselves.
Even though all of the above is probably true, I think there is something superficial about people whose sense of themselves is synonymous with the way they look. An obsessive concern with appearance is probably a weakness. Cosmetics advertisers take advantage of people with this weakness and sell hope to them and make a nice profit in doing so.
A Woman's Voice
This comment is from a man's perspective. I'm sure the same would be true about a man's voice from a woman's perspective too.
The gorgeous silent movie star that Jean Hagen plays in Singin' in the Rain has a blood-curdling voice. Lina Lamont radiates glamour from the silent screen but what she says and the voice she says it with are repulsive.
Maybe perfect skin and toned-up symmetrical facial muscles are not in themselves winners. They are certainly great assets though. But, in the end, personality rules. Personality is revealed by the human voice and perhaps body language.