Monday, September 16, 2013

beautiful people are better than you

The "ugliest woman in the world," Lizzie Velasquez.
One People's "most beautiful women in the world," Scarlett Johansson.
It's often said that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder..." but that's kind of a lie. Some people are definitely more beautiful than others. Some flowers are definitely more beautiful than others. Some buildings, even, are definitely more beautiful than others. Why? Because of symmetry my dear Watson, symmetry. We are pre-programmed to accept perfect symmetry as beautiful - whether we're conscious of it or not.

Throughout our entire lives we will obsess about beautiful things. We want beautiful things. We need beautiful things. People, cars, clothes, homes, etc. Beautiful people are used to sell the beautiful things we obsess about.

It's a disturbing admonishment, I'll admit. What's even more disturbing is how we down play our obsession with beauty. We even try to turn ugly things into beautiful things by marketing them as a reinvention of beauty or as new and "different" beautiful things.

My son, H.W.
So where do we get this obsession with beautiful stuff? I'm not exactly sure but even my six month old son is obsessed with beautiful things.

And today I noticed something very interesting.  My son, pictured at left, is a beautiful kid. I'm not just a biased parent either. Everyone tells me this. Strangers at the grocery store, the mall, out on a stroll, his pediatrician, and his agent - yes his agent - all exclaim the same thing, "omg what a Gerber baby!" They comment on his eyes, his smile, his chubby little thighs and they even ask to touch him.

Neighbors joke that his first words are going to be "you're so fucking cute" because it is the most iterated phrase in a six-block radius.

But last week H.W. got a DOCband - or a helmet - to correct some severe head molding that occurred in utero. Despite strangers' insistence that his head looks "fine" and that he's "the cutest baby in the world," his slightly mis-shappen head really bothers me and I am embarrassingly obsessed with perfection so we got him a device to make him more beautiful.
H.W. with DOCband

He'll have to wear this band for 23 hours a day for probably the next three months. And since putting it on, I've noticed a significant drop off in attention. Just today, on a stroll to my neighborhood Starbucks, I passed at least 5 strangers on the street, and another dozen or so in the cafe itself. Normally they'd have looked at my darling baby and gushed all over him. But this time, with his helmet on, not a single person looked. Well, they tried not to look, but I noticed sideways glances stolen from the corners of their eyes as they passed.

It didn't bother me, but I thought it was funny. I thought it was funny in the same way I've noticed my own son discriminate against less attractive people when we're out in public.

Flying to Reno last month H.W. showed a clear preference for the pretty long-haired brunette airline stewardess; while the obese woman, with oily hair sitting a couple rows behind us, and trying to engage him in a game of peek-a-boo, just made him turn his head.

My hope for the DOCband is that it will shape my son's head and lessen the severity of the somewhat sharp "corner" the top right part of his skull still has from birth. I see it as my obligation as a parent to give my son every advantage possible in life.

Having a weird-shaped head can't be good for your career (unless you're hoping to have a career as a character actor in scary movies) or your dating life and it sure won't help him book modeling jobs. Nope, pretty people have it easier, that's for sure. 

But are beautiful people actually better people? I doubt it. Although advertising wants you to think that they are. If you look at advertising, beautiful people are smarter, they're better housewives, better pet owners, better drivers, and better cooks. They have better jobs than you. Better homes, better cars, better clothes and take better vacations.

And that's why we want to be them. Because beautiful people are better than us.

When was the last time you saw the image of the "ugliest woman in the world" trying selling perfume? Don't know? How about the last time you saw an image of Scarlett Johansson trying to sell you perfume? She is currently the Dolce & Gabbana "The One Desire" fragrance.

So whether that's true or not, don't take beauty for granted. If it weren't for beauty, we would have no reason to want to better ourselves. Heck, if it weren't for beauty, half of us woudn't have jobs. The next time you see a beautiful person don't hate them because they're beautiful, take time to appreciate all their beauty has done for you. After all, to quote Jewel, "she is pieces of you."

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