Voters do it. Job recruiters do it. Consumers most certainly do it. Conscious or unconscious, our cultural obsession with beauty influences almost every decision we make. From Kant to Elaine Scarry, philosophers have long debated the role of aesthetics in moral judgments. A new study analyzed by Tim Harford for Slate would seem to suggest that beauty might also make people more intelligent and successful in life.
In affirmation of Harford's thesis, sdsander points to the Nixon/Kennedy Presidential Race as
a perfect example of the beauty premium at work. As many of you know, this was the first presidential race to feature a televised debate. In the debate, about 2/3rds of polled radio viewers felt that Nixon had won the debate. Roughly the same proportion of polled television viewers felt that Kennedy had won.
According to goshdurnit, the playing field is evened out by the creative ways those not conventionally beautiful compensate for their unattractiveness. PaxTerminus considers beauty not a state of being but of becoming:
Beauty is a product. It takes time, it takes work, it takes sacrifice, it takes marketing and trend-making and finally it takes money.
No woman or guy wakes up beautiful in the morning. The beautiful is a result of smart life choices, smart shopping choices, smart diet choices, smart makeup choices, smart outfit and accessories choices and even smart chair-stylist choices.
So maybe it is the other way around: people are not smart, because they are beautiful – maybe simply smart people have better chance to look beautiful by given set of standards, if they choose to do so.
revrick hangs the success of beautiful people on "our innate desire for perfection…It has nothing to do with accomplishment or virtue. It simply is." Delving deep into aesthetic theory, Mangar believes our attraction to beauty is rooted in an evolutionary imperative:
Beauty isn't just some random factor, totally uncorrelated to anything else except the things it causes. It's an INDEX of something. Perceptions of beauty serve a PURPOSE, because they tell us about things we can't directly see. Fact is, what we call "beautiful" has (over evolutionary time) been highly correlated with mate value. I'm sorry, but in general female beauty peaks with fertility (if not fecundity). The effects of disease, parasites, age and other factors which are likely to lower your evolutionary fitness are considered unattractive. The wrong (or the right) hormones change your face in such a way that you become more (or less) attractive…
So anyway, when it comes to elections and such...you may never have come across any rational reason to think more attractive people are a better choice (even though those reasons do exist). However, you'll still be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt...not because it's rational, it's just a part of human nature.
On a related front, Seth Stevenson weighs in on Dove's much-hyped campaign to expand our definition of beauty by featuring "real" women in its advertising, analyzing the winning spot from an amateur competition.
Budapestia takes Stevenson to task for judging the ad on the model's attractiveness: "Dove wasn't trying to sell m****rbation material to men, they were trying to sell soap to women." Giblina is even more blunt about the inappropriateness of the male gaze in this context.
a_majority_of_one gives the spot generally low marks for its "monotone" and "unappealing" visuals though finds its message "charming and on target": "A sanctuary is where women can live out their underlying desires for personal spiritual fulfillment, while the 'sold-out auditorium' plays to a slightly shallower but no less sincere longing for stardom and popularity."