I have never been beautiful. In fact, when I was younger I was told ‘you had better develop your personality because you are never going to be a looker’. I am not so hideous that I make babies cry but at worst I could be described as plain, at best, striking. The one good thing is that age is a great leveler. No matter how stunning you are when you are younger, age gets all of us. So does death for that matter. And a great advantage of age is that as you get older looks seem to matter less. Intelligence and personality really do count – that is not just a cliché.
But, I have been pondering lately how good looks do seem to open doors. They may not keep you inside if you do not have the goods but they at least get them open.
Take Jeremy Meeks for example. He is a previously convicted felon with scads of drug and gang offences to his name. He was arrested with three other people but his mug shot was so attractive that people who did not know him raised thousands of dollars towards his legal defence and he was offered a modelling contract. No mention was made of the others who were arrested alongside him. Despite the fact that he was on parole and caught with drugs and guns in his car coming out of a house that had been under surveillance, people who did not know him swore blind that he was innocent. I mean, how could someone so beautiful be a bad person?
Then we have the field of politics. Where I imagine good looks can get you further but if you are too good looking (or a beautiful woman) you can be seen as a bit of an airhead. Thomas Bodström below had the added benefit of being a former professional footballer though people could have then perceived him as a bit of a lightweight because of that, if it were not for the fact that he was also a top lawyer.
I tend to go ‘oooh’ if I see a good looking male politician or actor but after that they probably have to actually work harder for me to take them seriously. With women I tend to not do the same – I am not sure whether it is because I am a woman and don’t have the ‘survival of the species’ instinct to look at them in a certain way. Or perhaps I know how hard it is for a woman to be taken seriously when you work in a traditional male field. I have worked in computers and journalism – both very male dominated and chauvinistic when I started out. And my first ever job was in an engineering workshop where I was the only woman. Say no more.
It always makes me really cross on these various reality talent contests (Britain’s Got Talent, for example) how the judges and audience snigger at anyone who is overweight or plain as they walk onto the stage. Until they open their mouths. Susan Boyle, anyone? But then in order to sell records you have to have a good look and a good video so people who don’t fit the purchasing public’s view of beauty never go as far as they should – even if they have the voices of angels . On the other hand talentless beauties who can mime or use auto-tune race up the charts. Cheryl Cole, anyone? Since when did pure talent not count anymore?
I have often mentioned this story before but I used to work with photographers when I was a journalist. And when I was teaching CARR (Computer Aided Research and Reporting) at Elle magazine I worked with quite a few fashion and beauty photographers. They used to see stunning women all day every day. But, to a man, they had what looked to be, at first glance, very plain partners. At second glance though, their other halves were breathtaking. They had striking unusual faces that would not stand out in a crowd but there was a luminosity as their souls shone out through their eyes and their smiles. One of them had a wife who was about 20 years older than him. I didn’t realize she was his partner at first and kind of ignored her because I was so busy ogling him (he was gorgeous!). When he introduced us I am sure my mouth fell open in shock and I thought (I hate myself for it to this day) ‘what an exceedingly plain woman’. Five minutes later I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And I still do. I worship the ground she walks on, even today. She is my ideal of what beauty should be. After that experience I have never been the same again. I look for the beauty that others don’t see. It is all the more beautiful because of it.