Of all the natural gifts- these being beauty, talent, personality, and intelligence, beauty is perhaps the most worshiped and yet the most looked down upon.
Beauty is often ridiculed as not being substantial enough; it is flimsy, vapid, and ephemeral. Even though we are drawn to beauty, we still belittle it and regard it as inferior to other natural gifts. “Oh she is just famous for being beautiful, he actually has talent!” “Her beauty will fade but intelligence is forever.” “Boys like the beautiful girls but what of the girls with the nice personalities?” The others are not even considered natural gifts, but instead more of an achievement.
To some extent I agree, but sometimes I wonder, why is beauty any less than the others? One popular reason is that a beautiful person is just lucky to be beautiful. She has not done anything to earn it, she was just fortunate to be born with beautiful features. Is this not the same for the other gifts? Most intelligent people are born that way. Talent is innate. A footballer could practise as hard as possible, and still never be as good as a naturally talented footballer. The best musicians are not necessarily those who work the hardest, but those who are just naturally talented. Why is it fair that someone who was simply born with the talent is better than another who works even harder? We go on and on about how personality is better than beauty but personality is also innate. A person with a fun, bubbly personality did not do anything to earn it, and a shy, awkward, anxious person would certainly think that the extrovert was lucky to be born that way.
Another argument against beauty is that beauty provides little usefulness. This holds more merit than the first argument but is still faulty. Intelligence is more useful in as much as it contributes to the greater good. What is the point of a person who can do large sums in their head if this does not help others? We cannot deny the usefulness and importance of intelligence as a whole, but on an individual level is it really superior to beauty if it is not used for anything tangible? Yes she has a great personality (whatever this means), but unless it inspires others to be better what is its usefulness? A talented artist or sportsperson can provide immense entertainment and help relieve stress and that is their usefulness. However can people not also get immense satisfaction from beauty and beautiful things?
This bias against beauty feeds into all things beauty related. A woman who says she wants to go into fashion may be seen as less serious than a person who wants to go into sports. A magazine column about makeup will be taken less seriously than a sports or music column. You are more likely to hear “Every girl wants to be a makeup artist these days, why not get a real job?” than you are to hear the same about people wanting to get into sports. Compared to sports and music, people are less likely to recognize the creativity, expertise, and talent of beauty gurus; let alone respect them for it.
The purpose of this is not to rank beauty higher than the other natural gifts, but to say it is just as legitimate-or ridiculous-to see people as better because they are beautiful as it is to see them as better because they have one of the other gifts.
I believe that the true test, if any, should be based on things that we are not necessarily born with but that we have to make the conscious effort to do. One of this is character. Someone once defined character as who we are when no one is looking. While a person’s personality may be fun or eclectic, a person’s character is more about their morals-how honest and kind they are, how they treat other people e.tc. People with different personalities can therefore have the same character. Some may argue that character is just as innate as personality, but I do believe that we have more control over our character.
A smart person is not inherently better, neither is a talented person. To a large extent all of these are inborn and are therefore unfair criteria for assessing people. Still we do it. If a person can be held in higher regard because of their “amazing personality” “or good grades”, then stunning beauty is not to be looked down upon either.
Psychology today has more on personality vs character here