The Day You Discard Your Body Chapter 3 – The power of beauty

by Marshall Brain

Everyone knows that beautiful people have significant advantages in human society. Just look at the amount of attention and money that flows to the most beautiful actresses and models. Humans definitely have an understanding of, and a deep appreciation for, human beauty.

 photo by Kateryna Govorushchenko

If you ask a group of people to look at photographs of women’s faces and rank those faces on the basis of “beauty,” the results are remarkably consistent across genders, across races, across ages and across cultures. Beauty is a constant for the human species. The concept of beauty is hard-wired into our brains. [ref]

This quote from the publisher of the book Survival of the prettiest summarizes the reality of beauty quite succinctly:

Nancy Etcoff, a faculty member at Harvard Medical School and a practicing psychologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, puts forth that beauty is neither a cultural construction, an invention of the fashion industry, nor a backlash against feminism… it is in our biology. It’s an essential and ineradicable part of human nature that is revered and ferociously pursued in nearly every civilization and for good reason. Those features to which we are most attracted are often signals of fertility and fecundity. [ref]

 photo by Dewayne Flowers

That fact confers huge advantages upon the beautiful. According to one study: “We found an enormously influencing attractiveness-stereotype: The more attractive the presented faces were, the more successful, content, friendly, intelligent, sociable, accessible, exciting, creative and busy the persons were estimated. The opposite applies to unattractive faces: The more unattractive the faces were the more negative characteristics were attributed to the person.” [ref] That is a huge advantage for beautiful people, and a huge deficit for the un-beautiful. And it is completely arbitrary — if your brain happens to have a beautiful body encasing it, you have won the lottery. If not, then you have definitely lost. You are trapped.

What is Beauty?

We all know beauty when we see it, yet it is completely ephemeral. It has to do with subtle yet meaningless things like the spacing between the eyes, the smoothness of the skin, the height of the cheek bones, the prominence of the nose, the size of the mouth and lips, and the perkiness of the breasts. Pity the poor person whose eyes are wide set, whose nose is too big, and whose skin has deep oily pores. Lord help the poor girl who has facial hair, a thick neck and big ears. And if a girl has bushy eyebrows that grow together above the nose and a couple of big hairy moles on her cheeks… You get the idea. We all know ugly when we see it too. Yet the whole concept is absurd.

Unfortunately, despite its absurdity, the concept of beauty is a hard-wired reality. Billions of people on this planet inhabit bodies that are average in terms of beauty. And billions more are downright ugly. The lucky few are beautiful.

If you happen to be ugly, there really is nothing you can do about it today. Sure there is plastic surgery, but plastic surgery cannot change things like the spacing between your eyes, the height of your forehead or the texture of your skin.

 photo by Denisa Moorehouse

And then there are the many ugly things that go with aging. We all have to deal with aging whether we are beautiful or not. Things like wrinkles, sagging, age spots and hair loss. All of these things make you “uglier.” It is certainly true that there are no 80-year-old people gracing the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan or Glamour. Age-related ugliness affects the way other people respond to any elderly person. If you could take the brain of a senior citizen and transplant it into a beautiful 17-year-old body, the response would be remarkably different.

Ugliness is another one of the traps that your body creates. If you could snap your fingers and have a body that is beautiful and flawless, would you do it? Of course you would. By having a beautiful face and body your brain would automatically gain all of the benefits of beauty.

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