The other day on facebook Emily A posted this picture, from Roald Dahl’s
The Witches oops, The Twits, thanks for the correction Pranay.
You know, it’s a nice way of thinking. When I first read it, I thought it was sweet, and to some extent, true. I certainly find happy people more approachable, and if that translates into me thinking they’re more attractive, well, blame it on the eye of the beholder or whatever.
But I take issue with this thought of “If you’re a good person, then it’ll make you prettier!” I’m not sure I want to go around telling children, “Hey, think good thoughts and be nice, it’ll make people think your face is more symmetrical. And then people will want to bang you.”
It bothers me because telling someone “Your efforts to be friendly/kind/interesting will make you beautiful” puts all of this unnecessary importance on beauty. All roads don’t lead to beauty. Being physically attractive is not some currency by which all other traits should be measured. If you’re a great person, it means: you’re a great person–which is enough of an accomplishment that it shouldn’t have to translate into beauty to make it worth it.
The other reason conflating beauty and virtue is dangerous is that it sends the message that being ugly is the worst thing in the world, to be avoided at all costs. Which is the wrong attitude to take about ugly. Ugly doesn’t harm anyone. I’d rather be ugly than malicious–because a pair of Spanx notwithstanding, I can’t really change the way I look. (Actually I totally can, eye makeup is amazing, but I’m not going to show you that anytime soon).
I’m being tongue-in-cheek here, but what I mean is that: pretty or ugly, I’d really rather people be impressed with what I do, rather than what I look like. And I’m worried that someone will arm themselves with a smile and a great attitude, thinking it makes them prettier, and then be crushed if someone does call them ugly, as though it were the worst insult in the world. If someone were to say, “Well, she’s mehhhh in the face…but she has a great personality,” yeah, okay, I might be a little offended. But the important part is that I’d have a great personality! Which, in the end, should be worth so much more than an apology for being unpretty.