Looking Good Is Damn Hard Work. Vanity Should Be Applauded.
Imagine a woman. She’s conventionally very physically attractive.
She tells you two truths and one lie: she loves Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford. She enjoys sunbathing on the beach.
Which do you automatically think is the lie?
Imagine a man. He is conventionally very physically attractive. He tells you two truths and one lie: he loves watching a game of footy. Outside of that, he enjoys reading the classics -- anything by Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters. His guilty pleasure is Maccas.
Which is his lie?
Although these situations are hypothetical, the answers your mind immediately jumps to may reveal your unconscious bias: that ‘good looking’ people are less likely to be intelligent.
Maybe that wasn’t your presumption. Maybe your first response was 'there isn't enough information provided to make a reasonable guess'. And ‘good looking’ is, of course, entirely subjective.
But like it or not, there's plenty of evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, that in our society, there's a definite presumption that people who look like they spend a lot of time in the gym and a lot of time grooming don’t have time for intelligent pursuits.
In fact, a new study examining workplace culture has found that physically attractive people experience favouritism, even if those considered less attractive actually work harder (it's being called "erotic capital").
It's likely to lead to allegations of "he/she only got to where they are because of their looks" and insults such as being called a 'bimbo' or a 'himbo'.
If that’s the case, I think it’ll stoke some unfair stereotypes. We’re taught from an early age that it’s unkind to judge people by their appearance. But that sometimes seems like a one-way street.
The term ‘vanity’ is used for anyone into personal grooming. It’s stigmatising and prejudiced, presuming vacuousness from the outset.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong in taking pride in your appearance. But in Australia, tall poppy syndrome means this largely remains an unspoken mantra.
There’s an irony at play here: the perceived vanity of those who take extra steps to look their best is sneered at, when the steps these people have taken to look the way they do reveal similar traits to those who want their brains to be the best they can be.
They're often displaying the qualities we're taught from a young age are desirable: being hard-working, dedicated, committed, persevering, goal-focused.
Many who get up at 5am to go to the gym daily would never be criticised for such a hard-working approach in any other area of their lives. Plenty would prefer to lay in till 7am.
But they work hard to take care of themselves, with one of the primary or secondary goals of that being to look good.
Rather than dismiss this as shallow, which may be envy’s green head poking above the parapet, we could applaud these people the same way we would a novelist on writing their book or a scientist on their latest discovery.
It’s entirely possible to be a puddle and a lake at the same time. Frivolity can accompany sombre or incisive perception; but both show aptitude.
If people spend money on Botox (or ‘Brotox’ if you’re a man), that's often money they've worked hard for so they can look their best -- but we’re so quick to judge. I certainly don’t include myself in the good looking brigade -- and I’m not fishing here. Instead of the conventional tall, dark and handsome, I’m short and big-foreheaded; I accepted being the runt of the litter long ago.
But that’s also why I get Brotox. I need all the help I can get! And I’ll happily take it.
That’s not to place any more importance to physical appearance than is necessary. But anyone who has ever adhered to or suggested a dress code of any sort knows that it plays a role in society. There are times when you should don a suit or smart ensemble and brush your hair; make yourself look presentable out of respect. It’s the same principle.
It also isn’t to shame anyone who doesn’t fit the conventional bill of what’s perceived as physically attractive. But you can’t espouse this one minute and shame a gym-fit body as an air-head the next. It’s hypocritical.
Writing off as unintelligent 'conventionally attractive' people, or immediately criticising them for having an unfair advantage is unwise. It could well be the case that the dedication and tenacity they apply to their fitness regime (and skincare regime) also applies in other areas of their lives.
You can have a six pack and love Jane Austen. And if you do, my DMs are very much open.