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Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.

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Hello dear readers,

There have been plenty of studies done on the subject of beauty. It’s been proven that infants react more favorably to beautiful people–that those who are attractive enjoy unfair advantages in the workplace and pretty much everywhere else. But is it true?

Beautiful women certainly can’t count on their looks to keep their partners faithful, if you consider the experiences of Uma Thurman, Elin Nordegren, Sandra Bullock, and Jennifer Aniston. (Yes, those are all celebrity examples, but I’ve  experienced this much closer to home.) Beauty also doesn’t equate happiness. Just look at Marilyn Monroe, Kurt Cobain, Heath Ledger, and Michael Hutchence. You may envy the self-confidence of the beautiful, but often it’s the lovely among us who are the most insecure about their appearance. Ask all the frustrated men who have tried to compliment an attractive woman. And this isn’t limited to women, either…I’ve known beautiful men who hide their perfectly-honed physiques and who have even suffered from eating disorders.

Handsome men are often called “pretty boys” by their peers, as if their attractiveness somehow makes them less masculine. Women assume they will be unfaithful, or not as good in bed, because they “don’t have to be”.

And beautiful women? Wow, the deck is really stacked against them. Read almost any interview of a supermodel and the same themes reappear: they were tormented by their peers as children; they have trouble making female friends. In your average, everyday corporate workplace, where competition among women can escalate to a fever pitch, the attractive woman may be sabotaged or even shunned. Of course, no one will admit the woman’s looks are the problem. A good friend recently told me that if a beautiful woman is genuinely nice and friendly to her co-workers, she will be viewed with suspicion because “why would anyone that beautiful be nice?”

I did experience the Beautiful Mean Girl once, in college. There was a girl who clearly outshone the rest of us in the genetic jackpot. But she was often cruel, going so far as to mock people with disabilities. I remember her complaining that when she went to her hometown for a visit, the phone rang off the hook, but none of the calls were for her. “The boys are calling my sister now; they used to call for me,” she pouted. Oh, brother. We all rolled our eyes. But aside from that experience, I’ve found beautiful people are no less likely to be kind than anyone else.

It used to be that no one cared what a writer looked like. Before the addition of the book jacket photo, no one even knew. The Internet and increasing pressure on authors to market themselves has changed all that. Some authors have become true celebrities and are now facing the same pressure, as the nasty gossip about Stephenie Meyers’ weight clearly demonstrates.

What’s your opinion, dear readers? Are you more likely to reach for a book if you find the author attractive? Have you ever judged someone by their looks alone, and then found out you were wrong about them? Do attractive people make you jealous or nervous? Are you a beautiful person who’s found your looks have made a difference in your life, for good or ill? Do tell!

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6 Comments

  1. gwen morrison

    I think that it’s sad how much we focus on external beauty – give it such weight. No matter how beautiful you are, if you use your looks as a measurement of your worth, you will come to a point in your life when you will feel as though you have failed. As a society, we have really made it difficult for young women, I think, because they are jaded into thinking that it will last. Internal beauty is of such a greater value to me, as a reader and as a writer. I definitely don’t judge a book / author by the cover…

    Reply
  2. kungfusinger

    To tell the truth, I rarely even look at the jacket photo until after I have started reading a book. By that point, I have already formulated an oppinion of the book and the photo does not change it. For the most part, I am refreshed to find that the photo shows a “normal” person. Someone with a double chin or an overbite or 20 extra pounds.

    This world is so very stereotyped. People think that everyone should weigh 88 pounds soaking wet. I’m 5’7, and according to the BMI I should weigh 129lbs. At my peak health, when I ate nothing but vegetables and lean cuts, exercised five days a week, etc. I weighed 175. That was considered obese. I think if I weighed 129lbs I would be dead and partially decomposed.

    People look at the overweight (or simply larger) people and assume it is laziness or gluttony that they don’t look like supermodels. Yesterday a colleague bought me lunch. He bought me two footlong subs.

    Because of people’s expectations, even the beautiful are made to feel ugly or at least not good enough. It is time we stopped looking at the body and started noticing the person inside.

    Sorry for ranting on you blog. It apparently touched a nerve.

    Reply
  3. Story Teller

    Thanks for your comments, Gwen and kungfusinger.

    @ Gwen – I agree that how people look–beautiful or otherwise–is given far too much importance by our society. Judging someone by how they look is never a good thing. Glad you’re resisting the trend.

    @ kungfusinger – You’re right, of course. It’s not only the beautiful people who have it tough in this world. I find it interesting, though, that people so often equate beauty with not having any problems, when so often the opposite is true. I’m sorry to hear about your experiences. It’s never fun when stuff like that happens. But don’t worry about ranting! If something I post encourages passionate discussion, it’s all for the good.

    Reply
  4. angela

    Human beings are a jealous lot! We hate the beautiful, the rich, the talented and the successful. Problem is, all of these things are completely subjective! There will always be someone more beautiful, more rich and more talented, no matter who you are.

    It takes being content with who you are and what you have, to not be caught up in the proverbial race with the Jones’s. It’s not a bad thing to admire someone, or even to be envious in a good “wouldn’t it be nice to have that!” kind of way. It’s our insecurities that make it toxic.

    Be thankful your body works. Keep it healthy and love yourself. Be thankful that you are rich in that you have a safe place to sleep and you eat everyday. The beautiful people will be simply that: People.

    Reply
  5. Story Teller

    Welcome to the blog, Angela! Thanks for your comment. I do agree that it’s our own discontent that leads us to sneer at or criticize others. Happy people don’t tend to be cruel.

    True contentment is hard to maintain. It’s so easy to forget to count our blessings, as you so aptly mentioned. We can all learn something from your insight. Thanks for posting.

    Reply

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