Do you spend a good deal of time fretting about your looks, wishing you could swap faces with some very handsome person you admire? If you do, stop pitying yourself-and start pitying the handsome people you envy. They are the ones who are more apt to be hurt in life by their looks.
Perils of Good Looks
It is true that beauty gives a person many immediate advantages in opening doors and attracting admiration. But life is frequently made so easy for the handsome people during their youth that they have little desire to develop their talents. The result is that they often end up with unappealing personalities. They develop little inner strength to endure the hard knocks which life brings.
Youngsters “blessed” with attractive physical features frequently do less well in school. Two professors at a western university rated 600 girl students on their beauty. Then they examined their scholastic records. The beautiful girls ranked 14 points below “plain” girls.
“The more beautiful girls are apt to be disturbed by social engagements,” the professors concluded. They spend so much time socializing that they never learn sound study habits. Plain girls or awkward boys usually begin making up for lack of natural handsomeness by developing their personality or talents.
Illusion of Beauty
I have had my own troubles with listless beauties. In Philadelphia the parents of a very beautiful girl appeared to me to try to get their daughter “interested in something.”
She had flunked out of two colleges and, I soon found, was extremely self-centred. She spent hours in lackadaisical primping, and when anyone tried to prod her out of herself interest she would stage a little fit of temper.
The girl today is selfish, at loose ends, and a very poor marriage risk for anybody. I worked with two sisters whose IQs were almost identical. Yet the sister who has a fairly conspicuous defect is wittier, more charming, more thoughtful in her behaviour and seemingly far more intelligent. She has a glow to her personality that the other clearly lacks.
It is significant those great actresses are not always naturally beautiful women. Some of them have been clever enough to give the illusion of beauty. Many who were not considered good-looking as schoolgirls make up for it with greatness.
Responsibility of Parents
American parents tend to treasure and over protect their best-looking children. They should realise that with their good fortune comes the added responsibility of seeing that these children have normal opportunities for personality development despite the temptation to ride on their outer glory.
Here are few specific suggestions that parents of usually attractive youngsters might well keep in mind:
Parents should make it clear that they place little importance on mere beauty. Some people have it, some don’t. They should direct the youngsters’ ambition to goals in which looks play very little part.
Handsome youngsters should be held to a higher standard of performance in schoolwork than might ordinarily be required.
These youngsters should deliberately be thrust into situations where they have to develop a high degree of self-reliance and initiative.
In the matter of dress, they should be discouraged from any tendency to place undue importance on finery.
Advantages of Average Looks
Here are some of the advantages held by plain or average looking individuals:
They are more likely to be successful in their jobs. Since the handsome person is likely to be self-centred and to expect too much, he can’t withstand the hardships that go with starting out on his own.
They have a better chance of achieving a happy marriage. Benjamin Franklin advised a young man to marry a homely woman because such a woman would give more thought to being a good wife.
The chief basis for lasting attraction is the desire to want to give, to want to please. The naturally handsome person has been sought after so long that he or she has little chance to develop this impulse.
The plain person has a better chance of aging attractively. When beauty fades, its owner may find it hard to face reality, if she is short on inner resources to draw upon.
A woman once told me of her astonishment when she attended a reunion of her high school classmates of 40 years ago. “The girls I had envied as beautiful while in school are now frumpy, tiresome old women. And some of the girls I had felt a little sorry for because of their looks struck me now as being the most interesting, vivid and attractive of all the women present.”
The Only Worth-While Beauty
The perils of natural good looks are not present for the person who achieves good looks.
I know a young woman who is regarded in her town as stunningly attractive. In high school photographs she looks gawky and unappealing. Her blossoming comes from the fact that she is a warm-hearted, generous person of considerable intelligence and honesty, and has developed a fine flair for grooming herself attractively.
The only worth-while beauty a good person can have is an inner sparkle produced by a combination of strong character and an outgoing approach to life. If you have this sparkle, it will shine through.
Youthful handsomeness of features is simply skin-deep and will fade rapidly with the years. However, if you acquire this inner sparkle, you will have the best “good looks” anyone can have, regardless of your age or physical make-up.