The Truth About Appearances

I’ve always been told to look my best. And to be honest, I do care about my appearance. I comb my hair every morning, choose clothes that are appropriate for wherever I’m going, and attempt to prevent anything ostentatiously unattractive from showing. You may accuse me of being shallow, yet society has shaped us in such a way that appearances are a definite aspect of who we are. Appearance-based discrimination exists, which is why so many of us struggle to attain an attractiveness that really should be unnecessary.

Even science has revealed that we are naturally attracted toward people with symmetrical faces. Image via viewzone.com.

But in the end, appearances are simply that – appearances. They are the way that something or someone looks, but not what or who that thing or person truly is. I’m not only referring to physical appearances either. Too many of us pass up opportunities to meet other people just because of the way they talk, how they walk, who they hang out with, etc. All of these things, while not directly associated with their actual physical appearances, are shallow assumptions and possible misrepresentations of who that person really is.

One of my friends once said that a marriage is 50% based on looks and 50% based on personality. I hope I’m not the only one who disagrees with that statement. I understand how at first a person may be attracted to another individual based on their appearance, but could you really build a bond that intense with someone – we’re talking a life time commitment – giving equal weight to their appearance as to who they are? Once you spend time with someone and become more deeply acquainted with them, isn’t it true that you notice their physical appearance less and less compared to their personality? Perhaps this is why the divorce rate in America is on the rise. If your spouse suddenly became ugly overnight, would you immediately decide to divorce them?

Allow me to use myself as an example because I’m lonely and I need attention. If I were to approach one of my friends and tell them that I’m black, I doubt they would believe me. In fact, they wouldn’t, because to them I am clearly Asian. But just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean that I like rice, or that I can’t write well, or anything else – really, it only means that I’m Asian. Sure, appearances (and how one’s ethnicity contributes to their appearance) is a part of us, but it is by no means the sole factor determining who we are.

I'm sure you know not to judge a book by its cover... but in this case you can, because Jem is gorgeous and so is Clockwork Prince.

I’m not saying that all attractive people are brainless imbeciles. All I’m suggesting is that we should try to get to know people before judging them. Before deleting that person of your friends list for that one ugly picture they uploaded, strike a conversation with them and see if you have things in common. Before casting away that Caucasian guy because all the other Caucasian guys you’ve met turned out to be duds, ask him whether he enjoys reading books in his free time or playing tennis like you do (these things apply to me, but, you get the point).

Maintaining one’s appearance is necessary, but ultimately personality and ethics are more important. Some of the strongest people on the planet are disfigured, such as Nick Vujicic and Jacqui Saburido, but that hasn’t prevented them from inspiring others and making an impact on society.

What do you think of appearances versus reality? I’m interested in hearing others’ opinions, especially on the marriage question. I’m writing this at 11:30 PM on Christmas Eve but I’ll probably publish it the day after Christmas, so, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “The Truth About Appearances

  1. JigglySnowballs

    Everyone is beautiful, but not everyone sees it.

  2. That is so true. Would you choose to be stuck with a handsome guy or a beautiful woman that thinks that the moon’s made out of cheese or rather be with an average or not-so-good-looking person who’s intelligent, thoughtful and shares your interests?

    It’s a material world we’re living in and many people judge others at face value, which is totally unfair. Not my fault that I wasn’t born a beauty queen but I think my personality makes up for it.

    When considering a life partner one should ask: Why do I want to be with him/her? Shouldn’t it be because he/she makes you feel special? That you both connect on this level where you both understand each other? Because you both know things about the other but love despite faults and mistakes? But surely not solely or mostly because he/she’s appealing to your eye.
    On first sight people attracted by looks, I honestly don’t deny that because if I came across a cute guy I would stare around and appreciate God’s creation. I’d wonder, “I hope he’s a good person as he’s good looking,” or at least I hope I would.
    On what you said about marriage, I don’t doubt that people marry for looks and it would just hurt the other person to learn that he/she wasn’t loved for being him/herself. If I were to wake up one day to find that my husband got ugly, it would surely be a cause for concern but if I got married to him just for the person who he is then I shouldn’t mind, now should I?

    I’ll admit that I don’t think that I’m ‘beautiful’, I’m just okay-looking and I think my personality’s not bad either, but I get fed up when my Gran would insist that I wouldn’t leave the house without make up, the one thing I don’t care for. You know, I find that assuring someone else that they’re beautiful inside-out is way easier than convincing myself.
    All this judgement based on appearances tend to make people insecure, so much that they would resort to the knife (surgery) and way way too much cosmetics. Who make these stupid rules in society, that you’re appealing, likeable if you’re good looking? Television mostly, no?
    I say go for brains over looks every time!

    • Yes, exactly! All of this is precisely what I’m trying to drive home. It is sad that people become insecure about themselves over their appearances when it’s who they are on the inside that really matters… it’s even worse that they result to plastic surgery and other procedures to improve their bodies when all of that is unnecessary.

      I agree that your personality is more important than the way you look, and you don’t have to put on makeup if you don’t want to. (:

  3. You’re a great writer! I’ll blogroll you if you blog roll me! Lol.

  4. P.S. If you ever want to do a guest post on Queer Landia just let me know.

  5. “If your spouse suddenly became ugly overnight, would you immediately decide to divorce them?”

    Hypothetically if I had a spouse, no. I’d be scared to wake up next to a stranger’s face though! If his face was the only thing that changed, I’d say no, but If he became ugly and then his self-esteem went down because of it and started acting insecure, then I’d rethink it. After all, confidence is the most attractive part of a man.

    I’d say people don’t marry for looks, but looks help people lure in potential partners!

    • I see what you mean, though in this hypothetical situation if you were to show your husband that you still loved him for who he is despite his looks, I don’t think his confidence would drop. I agree that a person’s appearance can affect the way they think about themselves, but certain people can overcome that way of thinking and use what talents and advantages they do have.

      Also, that’s true, first impressions are important. (:

  6. Eileen

    “Too many of us pass up opportunities to meet other people just because of the way they talk, how they walk, who they hang out with, etc…”
    So, so true. While your post was brilliant overall, this is my favorite part .

  7. I agree with this post. Yes, there is always that initial physical attraction that makes one interested in someone else, but after that first impression there’s got to be more than just that for that relationship to burgeon. A person can be the most attractive person in the world, but if that person has a rank personality then nothing can come from that.

    Speaking of what you mentioned above regarding symmetry of the face, there’s this four-part special called “The Human Face” which aired on the BBC a few years ago. One man was using the golden ratio to measure random faces in one part of the series, and he felt that the ones that were considered beautiful had symmetrical faces.

    • So true. Also, that’s interesting… hm, I suppose our attractions are partly biologically predetermined then. I remember learning about the golden ration in geometry last year, who knew that it could even apply to people’s faces.

  8. Cara

    Oh gosh that is troubling if that is why people get married… half based on looks! Geez Louise! I’ll have to ask some married couples to see if they think that this is the case. I’m assuming that the lasting relationships will say no. Of course you are going to commit yourself to someone you find attractive, but they has to something more than that. There has to be, at least I certainly HOPE that is the case.
    Anyhow, this is such an interesting topic because we of course cannot dismiss appearances completely. It’s the first impression you give people
    Oh gosh that is troubling if that is why people get married… half based on looks! Geez Louise! I’ll have to ask some married couples to see if they think that this is the case. I’m assuming that the lasting relationships will say no. Of course you are going to commit yourself to someone you find attractive, but they has to something more than that. There has to be, at least I certainly HOPE that is the case.
    Anyhow, this is such an interesting topic because we of course cannot dismiss appearances completely. It’s the first impression you give people so I do think it’s important that you take time into your appearance if you can. You present to people what you think about yourself, and I think they way you dress can accentuate and amplify better who you are. BUT this is not to say that the obsession with beauty is healthy. There is a line that is crossed when people start to bash themselves because they don’t meet a “standard”. Haven’t you noticed people who have the “standard” look tend to get lost in the shuffle? It’s hard to recall them.
    Thanks for the post Thomas now I have to something to muse about with my friends:D So much to think about it and no clear cut right answers.

    • I see what you mean, Cara. Your statement about how “dress can accentuate and amplify” reminds me of 1) Lady Gaga, who always uses her costumes and appearance to her full advantage to shock people and make a lasting impression, and 2) Jews in Nazi concentration camps, because they were all forced to wear the same plain clothing, stripping them partly of their identity. However, I’m confident that Lady Gaga would still retain her talent and who she is even if she was forced to wear sweaters and jeans, and many of the Jews were able to maintain hope and an inner strength even when their ability to choose their appearances were taken away from them.

      You’re right, this is a difficult topic because appearances are valuable – but their value is different to different people, so you’ll always have people who disagree about their overall importance.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment Cara!

      • Cara

        Oh my gosh I just saw for some reason I posted some sentences twice, how did that even happen! *shakes head* So sorry about that. You are so right that if somebody were stripped of all their appearance their core would definitely shine through above all. It’s part of what makes being human beautiful. Have a wonderful New Year Thomas:)

        • It’s fine, don’t apologize. (: Your statement reminds me of how in some books when a group of people are removed from society (for example, taken to an island, like in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray or Lord of the Flies by William Golding) their true, inner selves appear as opposed to the masks they were wearing before. So, another good point Cara. I hope you have a fantastic New Year too!

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