Can you be beautiful but not superficial?

Can you be beautiful but not superficial?

Posted Jun 29, 2010

As a budding sociologist, I find myself engaging in deep, philosophical conversations from time to time with my brilliant peers.

Last night was one of those rare occasions. While on my second alcoholic beverage of the evening (which for me, is a LOT), a friend and I pondered one of life's most perplexing questions.

Are ugly people attracted to other ugly people?

I suspect I've already opened up an ugly can of worms with this one. First, you will ask, what is ugly exactly?

I don't know. I have my own definition of ugly, just as you have your own. I think that's fine for the purpose of this blog.

Second, ugly is a harsh word and mean. I know. I really mean "unattractive," but ugly is so much more evocative, and easier to type!

So what was our verdict?

Well, we figured that ugly people were NOT attracted to other ugly people, but often settled for them, simply because they thought they couldn't do better.

Are we brilliant at 2 a.m. or what?

Since I question everything, especially my own logic, I went home and thought it might be fun to see if we were correct. (We weren't, not really anyway.)

It turns out that Columbia University did a study on this very question a couple years ago. Researchers analyzed users' ratings from the online dating site They looked at members' ratings of others as well as others' ratings of them and found that:

"People with similar levels of attractiveness indeed tend to date each other, with more attractive people being more particular about the physical attractiveness of their potential dates."

So, people are naturally drawn to others who are of the same attractive level as they are- which explains why I am not at all attracted to Brad Pitt, clearly.

The study also found, "People prefer to date others who are moderately more attractive than them."

This theory may be more applicable to men, who "are more influenced [than women] by how physically attractive their potential dates are, but less affected by how attractive they themselves are, when deciding whom to date."

Is that why we see so many men dating women who seem so out of their league? I mean, didn't a movie just come out about this very concept?

If I deem someone ridiculously good-looking, I usually don't look twice in his direction. I always assume that we won't look good as a couple, and people will wonder what the hell he is doing with me, e.g., Do I have a terminal illness? Do I have a trust fund? Do I only have a really good personality?

I even know women who get angry when they see these mismatched couples. After all, why else are they starving themselves and going tanning every other day?

I am almost too aware of how I look in a couple-- which is why I think men got it right, by not being so self-conscious.

But women, sadly, don't have that luxury. The problem is that men usually have one universal definition of what is attractive (and you need to fit that in order to be considered hot), far more than women do, according to a recent Wake Forest University study. So, if you look like Megan Fox, chances are most men will find you hot, whereas, most women do not agree on one singular paradigm of the "hot" guy.

In a follow-up speed-dating study, the Columbia researchers found that more attractive people place more weight on physical attractiveness in choosing dates, while less than attractive folks put more empahsis on personality traits. This suggests that people are aware of where they fit on the beauty spectrum.  But I have to wonder, is it a good thing to know?

The media drives us crazy sometimes. We strive so hard to be beautiful, but in the end (and according to this study), we are construed as being superficial when we do so. Is there a way to be one but not the other?

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The One They Are Compatible With?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 28, 2010, from¬ /releases/2008/02/080211094943.htm

Women, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 28, 2010, from¬ /releases/2009/06/090626153511.htm

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