The Plight of the Pretty Girl

Pretty people don't know what ugly is.

Posted Mar 08, 2010

"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."-- Albert Camus

"People think if you look fairly reasonable, you can't possibly act, and as I only care about acting, I think beauty can be a great handicap."-- Vivien Leigh

While at lunch with friends, one of my future broadcast buddies brought up how being too beautiful might be detrimental for a woman. She cited Lara Logan, CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, who laments that her beauty has been somewhat of an obstacle in her career. In a 2005 New York Times article, Logan said, "being really attractive can hurt you." Had she not exhibited tenacity, fearlessness and compassion on her way up the news ladder, she would not be in the position she is today.

So do we feel sorry for poor, beautiful Lara? I don't think so.

In the same article, just a paragraph before, Logan mentions how she used her lady charm to coax the Russian embassy in London to expedite her visa shortly after the 9/11 attacks.

"Let's just say I met the guy from the embassy, after it had closed, in a cafe," she said.

It seems that the beauty that plights her is the same beauty that provides her with special opportunities unavailable to those of us left waiting behind the velvet ropes of normalcy.

A look at the yearbook of female news personalities on television reveals a significant number of former beauty queens (ie: Maria Menounos, Amy Robach, Lu Parker, and even... FOX's latest addition: Sarah Palin). Logan, too, broke hearts as a swimsuit model before she starting breaking the news.

For these women, I think being beautiful has given them extraordinary advantages--namely careers. It's no secret that attractive faces tend to be plastered on all forms of media. (Please note that I am not at all saying they are talentless, but their looks have definitely been helpful in securing careers.)

Though a few years ago, when I was acting in commercials, my agent said there was finally a surge of "real people" roles that allowed regular-looking folks to represent the mainstream (or themselves) instead of their size two supermodel counterparts.

While commercials may be ready to accept realer looking people, the news, I'm afraid, is not.

Look at Mélissa Theuriau, a French journalist and news anchor who has been hailed as the most beautiful newscaster in the world by Maxim, the Daily Express and countless sexually charged You-tubers who catapulted her into international fame in 2007 when a compilation of her news clips gained over 800,000 views.

Prior to becoming an Internet sensation, Theuriau worked early morning hours on LCI, a domestic news channel that no one, not even the French, watched.

Thanks to her digital newsroom of admirers,Theuriau was thrust into the celebrity spotlight and found herself a new job as presenter and editor of "Zone Interdite" (Forbidden Zone), a popular investigative news program. She also works for two other French television news shows.

Does she think this sudden job opportunity was mere luck? A product of only hard work, resilience and stamina? Nope.

Theuriau knows being gorgeous has its perks. She has modeled for Vuarnet sunglasses and has been romantically linked with popular French movie stars.

"I welcome compliments, on condition that people also talk about my professional ability. It's great if someone is pleasant to look at, the public is happy and she does the job well," she said.

Gaël Pollãs, an expert on celebrities, calls Theuriau "not an excellent journalist." However, "people find her beautiful, independent-minded and nice, and that is enough."

Clearly, her fan base, many of which don't even understand French, is not aroused by her intellect.

Logan's complex, however, reminds me a lot of a recent episode of Nip/Tuck where a beautiful model walks into the plastic surgery office and tells the doctor she is sick of being "perfect." She wants to undergo surgery to look normal, even ugly-- so that she might experience a day where she wouldn't be hit on, subject to any special attention, nor get the stink eye from jealous hags who were threatened by her halo of beauty.

Ugh. Give me a break.

The doctor refuses to operate on her perfectly sculpted everything and actually ends up seducing her, no surprise here. By the end of the episode, in a predictable ironic twist, the girl tries to kill herself in a car crash, but only ends up scarring and disfiguring her face. However, 3-minutes of life in the ugly real world proves to be too much for her delicate self-esteem, and she begs the doctor to make her beautiful again.

Unfortunately, her scars are permanent and an old adage comes to mind: Be careful what you wish for.

For beautiful people, suffering exists on a completely different plane than for regular folks. For example,  Jessica Biel's biggest problem is that people don't take her seriously as an actress, because she's so distractingly pretty. Sure, that sucks for Biel, but a big part of her career is contingent on those very looks. I loved Seventh Heaven as much as the next person, but something tells me that hormonal teenagers weren't tuning in for the show's religious didactics.

The beautiful advantage applies to non-media jobs as well. A 2007 study by Daniel Hamermesh and Jeff Biddle published in the Journal of Labor Economics revealed that attractive folks earned 5 percent more in hourly wages than their average-looking counterparts. Attractive people also earned 9 percent more per hour than the plainest people (uglies).

A quick breakdown:

The beautiful ones: $42,000
Average Joes: $40,000
The uglies: $36,400

The research also indicated that the uglies were also less likely to receive promotions at work compared to their more attractive colleagues.

Sad, huh?

It gets better. In schools, better-looking professors get better-looking evaluations from students. Even babies prefer pretty faces to not-so-pretty ones.

Moreover, good-looking folks can get away with almost anything, it seems.

I think back to the teacher-student sex scandals that have peppered the last decade. Debra LaFave was the pretty 23-year-old Florida middle school teacher who had sex with a 14-year-old student in a classroom and at her home in 2004.

During the highly publicized trial, her defense attorney remarked, "to place Debbie into a Florida state women's penitentiary, to place an attractive young woman in that kind of hellhole, is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions."

She pled guilty and was sentenced to just three years of house arrest.

Her punishment seems quite lax compared to that of the infamous Mary Kay Letourneau, who in 1996, seduced her now-husband when he was only 12 years old. She served 7-1/2 years in prison. Letourneau isn't bad looking, but she certainly ain't no lingerie model, like LaFave.

Makes me wonder if even Lady Justice, in all her infinite blind wisdom, can still smell good-looking people.

Of course, everybody suffers-- you, me, the guy that begs for change every day outside of your local CVS, but I can't help but think that a beautiful person just might suffer a teensy bit less. So when they complain about how their beauty has hindered them--the very beauty that has gotten them free dessert, a handsome date, or out of a speeding ticket, I have to be just a little skeptical.

Are you one of the beautiful ones?
Check here and find out if you make the cut.

And if you don't, your future can still look pretty good--just fake it. Gordon Wainright, author of Teach Yourself Body Language, says you can increase your attractiveness by maintaining good eye contact, being happy, dressing well and listening well.

His research predicts that by improving posture and smiling, you will be treated more warmly and start attracting more people.

Follow me on Twitter! ThisJenKim

Want to know when I write a new post? Sign up here. 

Be sure to read the following responses to this post by our bloggers: