02/27/2012 11:58 EST | Updated 04/28/2012 05:12 EDT

Blinded by Beauty

Anyone following me on Twitter will catch my frequent tweets about working on my dissertation at various coffee shops. Coffee shops are my sanctuary and library.   It's also a place where you can meet some pretty cool and interesting people.  At one coffee shop I frequent, I have become friends with this guy who at first glance could be related to Erkel -- down to the dad jeans and glasses.  Yes, he's certainly not attractive by conventional standards, but after a moment of chatting with him, anyone can see he's an enlightening and amazing person.  In fact, every time we chat, he reminds me about what beauty really is.

If you had the chance to be the most beautiful person in the world or to be a Nobel Peace Prize winner, which would you choose?  I am certain in the recesses of many people's brains, beauty would be chosen... And possibly for understandable reasons.

While intelligence is highly lauded, we still live in a time where beauty advances you.  Jessica Bennett from Newsweek points out:

"Handsome men earn, on average, 5 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts (good-looking women earn 4 percent more); pretty people get more attention from teachers, bosses, and mentors; even babies stare longer at good-looking faces (and we stare longer at good-looking babies)."

 Considered another way, how many people would choose beauty in a mate over brains? 

It's a tough question because you can't see someone's intelligence or personality from across the room.  But, you can see beauty.  It's an attractor, possibly a "trophy" to win or to have on your arm for the rest of the world to see.

The interesting thing about beauty in Western culture is the power of media to shape our perception of it.  Often seductively-dressed teenage models are airbrushed, presenting a woman who girls of all ages desire to replicate and men fantasize about.  In fact, the February cover of Canada's FASHION Magazine features a beautiful model named Andrej Pejic.  Andrej is actually an androgynous male model who is able to change his looks allowing him to model both menswear and womenswear! Andrej is a great example of how the media can shift our perception of beauty -- he is able to present an image both men and women may desire to look like.

Now you may argue that you can't help what you are attracted to, and so you cannot fault someone who is guided by physical attraction.  But the question I can't help wondering is: how long does the attraction driven by physical appearance last?  It may initiate your interest, but I can't believe that that it will hold it.  There has to be something more.  I mean, if youth is the standard for beauty, it will inevitably fade with age.

True, there is always plastic surgery and Botox, and who knows maybe even a real-life "fountain of youth" in the works. Many people go under the knife in a quest for beauty, but if you're not beautiful on the inside first, no amount of cutting and stretching and collagen can truly make anyone feel beautiful.  While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I believe true beauty often cannot be seen across a room.  It is often uncovered in knowing a person.  If only this fact was something Disney could teach young kids.

As for my coffee shop friend, while he's no Brad Pitt or Morris Chestnut, I would definitely go on a date with him if he asked me out!

A fan of beauty within,



Andrej Pejic Major Campaigns and Runways