Style and Beauty

Brad Pitt shows that beauty and style don't always go together.

Style and beauty seem to go hand in hand. We naturally perceive that good looking strangers are more intelligent, more charismatic, and more wealthy than plain people. And who's to say our perceptions are wrong? On average, attractive people earn more, get better grades, and have more successful partners than average or ugly people do. It's natural to assume they have more style, as well.

Let's define beauty. (We've already defined style.) Beauty is a psychological response to a physical phenomenon. Seeing something or someone beautiful makes you feel good. You want to keep looking for as long as you can get away with it, whether "it" is the Swiss alps or a Swiss model.

We are biologically programmed to select the best mate to reproduce with. Beauty is a good indicator of health, youth and reproductive fertility. If you want your offspring to survive, you want to make sure they have the healthiest genes possible. People dying or suffering from a disease generally don't look beautiful. Youth also indicates that the person has more time, before dying, to protect or provide for children. Young people are also more fertile.

Of course there's an aesthetic side to both style and beauty. Helen Mirren might be past childbearing age, but something about her vitality, her seeming lust for life, and her winsome features still makes her beautiful. Someone like Fred Astaire might not be much to look at, but his dapper outfits provide their own form of aesthetic pleasure.

Madame X by John Singer Sargent.

Being beautiful isn't a way to happiness. Some good looking people, especially women, feel pressure to look good all the time. Aging, already a painful process, can become more painful if one loses stunning, rather than average, looks.

There's very little evidence that attractive people are happier or have higher self-esteem than average or ugly people. I'm sure you can think of a few cases––Kurt Cobain, Gia Carangi, Edie Sedgwick––where good looks didn't compensate for drug addictions, bad life choices and psychological problems. And studies have found that finding yourself beautiful, regardless of what other people think, is better for your self esteem than looking like Cindy Crawford.

For most people, a person clearly enjoying themselves, with self-confidence and a lot of energy, is more attractive than a supermodel who looks angry and miserable.

True style and beauty come from being at peace with yourself and letting your inner self shine through.

Related Reading:

Style and Sex

Ugliness and Style

Learned Ugliness

Confronting Fashion Fears


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