Forced in our homes, we find ourselves dressing down, overeating, hair out of control, overdue for our facial injections, longing for the gym, and emotionally drained.
How important is beauty during a pandemic? How important is beauty at any time?
What I am presenting is science on beauty, it may seem harsh, it may seem unfair, it may even be flat out inappropriate but here are some truths on how beauty will help you get what you want in life:
Scientific facts on beauty:
- The benefits of beauty far outweigh any costs.1
- The benefits of being beautiful start early. Parents who are told their children are attractive spend more time in play with their babies than parents that do not have babies that are praised for their attractiveness.2
- When subjects believe they are playing with someone attractive they are more trusting and more likely to offer the person money.3
- More beautiful students are linked to high-status descriptions such as assuming they are on an elite sports team or being part of the popular group or “in-crowd”.4
- Applications with a photo of more attractive people were more likely to be returned to the “lost and found” when lost than those with photos of less attractive people.5
- More attractive students are less likely to be recommended for remedial classes.6
- The same research paper will be given a higher grade by the teacher if thought to have been written by a more attractive student.7
- More attractive people are more successful in sales, get higher ratings as counselors, are awarded more prestigious occupations.8
- When charged with crimes, attractive people usually receive more lenient sentences.9
- Attractive people are expected to be more generous.10
- More attractive people are seen as more popular and they are less likely to be told “no”.11
- Seeing someone attractive will lead us to expect them to be more awesome, intelligent, well adjusted, and mentally healthy than others.12
Being more beautiful can help you get what you want in life. My first obvious experience with this idea was back in 2014 when I was a plastic surgery resident at McGill University. My father was out of town and asked me to deposit a check for him at his bank. This was before the time of online check deposits. You can imagine with the crazy 120+ hour work week the only time I can do this for my dad was on a post call day where I had worked for 36 hours straight and was given an afternoon “off” to rest to start 5 AM the next day. Needless to say, after those shifts, I did not look my best. Imagine yourself beyond exhausted, unshaved, in need of a shower, hair out of control, dressed in baggy jogging pants, and lining up for a teller at the bank. My turn came to a sweet young woman behind the counter. I gave her the check of $250.00 along with the client card of my dad. She then asked me for ID. I did, and then she refused the transaction stating that I cannot deposit into an account that is not mine. I told her that I have his pin number and I am doing this upon my father’s request, besides… it’s a deposit not a withdrawal into my dad’s account! She said NO.
Two days after that there was a plastic surgery conference in Montreal that I had the honor of presenting my scientific research from my master’s degree. Imagine this, I was clean shaven, hair on point, showered, in a grey striped BOSS suit ready for my presentation, but before I get to the conference, I need to deposit this check! I go back to the same bank, line up for the teller, and just my luck, I get the same teller that refused me two day prior. Guess what happened… She smiled at me, not recognizing that I was the same man, and deposited my dad’s check!
Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, true but not entirely. Consider a study led by Alan Slater of the School of Psychology at the University of Exeter. He showed that people of different gender, culture and race agree who is more attractive when shown two faces. So, irrespective of their background, their cultures, their religious affiliations, adults around the world rate a more attractive person as more attractive when compared to a less attractive person. You may be thinking Ok, Dr Sinno, that’s a fun fact but what does that mean? Those adults may have been all influenced by the standards of beauty that they have been brainwashed with growing up from movies, magazines, and social media. This leads us to the second question, is the sense of beauty taught to us?
Well, this study goes further and tests the preferences of 6 month old babies that have not been influenced by the standards of beauty that our society holds true. Those babies statistically and significantly spent more time looking at the more attractive faces!13 Infants even preferred looking at more attractive infants. This demonstrates that beauty has been hard wired in our DNA!
So why is beauty so important to humans that it has become genetically ingrained in our core? The way I explain it to my patients is it’s all about SEX! One of the primary functions of all life is to propagate life. This happens through sex. Sex leads to reproduction, i.e. more babies, more humans, which in turn leads to more life and the continuation of our species. So, if this is one of the primary functions of being alive surely, we have to be able to select those people that we can have sex with and successfully have children with. We do not routinely check people’s actual DNA double strand helix for this, but we do look at what their DNA has produced and that is their appearance. A physically attractive face – smooth skin, high cheeks, defined jaw lines – “must” signify a lack of illness or parasites and an abundance of genes worth spreading.14 We are genetically engineered to be attracted to beauty!
So, what makes someone more beautiful? As a plastic surgeon I have been trained to understand beauty and how to create beauty for my patients. It is one of my lifelong quests. The hallmark of attractive faces is symmetry, proportions, average features (no single attribute that sticks out), basically everything goes together. The basic idea is when you see someone attractive you want to enjoy looking at them and not have to think about it.
YES, People do judge a book by its cover! First impressions are extremely important. They shape how we act with others even way beyond our first meeting. More attractive people are “expected” to be more confident, animated and likable creating what is known in psychology as “confirmation bias”. This is the part where the brain does not want to be wronged and it will do its best to adhere to that first impression, which was to the most part, judged by appearances. This will make you treat a more attractive person as though they are more confident, animated and likable.15
Our interactions with the outside world are dependent on our basic need for survival. It depends on our being accepted by society. Think back to the early humans living in caves, if you were shunned out by your tribe, that meant certain death to the outcast. We are hard wired to fit in and be liked by others. How can we achieve acceptance? How can we be liked? How can we assure never being shunned by society and climb the hierarchy ladder?
Well, the first thing on display for everyone to judge us is our appearance. Known in psychology as the “Halo effect” , seeing someone attractive will lead us to expect them to be more awesome, intelligent, well adjusted, and mentally healthy than others.12 Humans are social creatures. And the survival of any social animal is dependent on knowing where they are on the pecking order. Beautiful people get an added boost in life. They have received more parental affections, have been included more by their school mates, rated more popular and likable, subjected to more flirtations, positive encouragement, and see themselves on top. Basically, attractive people have more chances of survival and getting what they may want: acceptance and admiration in society.
This is directly translated in the world of sex. Research has shown that in dating, a woman’s self-perceived mate value depends entirely on her looks as opposed to in men, other factors are seen as more important such as intelligences, attractiveness, incomes and status.16 Humans are genetically wired to make babies and to give their babies the best chances of survival. We have to choose a successful beautiful mate with “good genes”. All this because beauty benefits peoples’ sense of self-worth, gives them confidence to pursue what they want and allows them extra favors to become successful.
Being attractive can be extremely helpful in life but being obsessed with it can lead to the exact opposite. For those people whose beauty is an integral basis of their self-worth, they can become overly concerned with their appearance leading them to objectify themselves. This is tiring and toxic if that’s all you got. Being obsessed about one’s physical appearance can lead to debilitating psychological conditions such as body dysmorphic disorder that can create more harm than good, clouding your objectiveness. People that are overly focused on their beauty may create the opposite of the desired effect and in fact decrease self-confidence.17 This is something we have to all be aware of especially when teaching our children empowering values.
But having a certain kind of face will help you in life, just don’t get too obsessed with it and also focus your energy into other self attributes that go beyond the outside look. Beauty is NOT everything. We rate appearance as a package deal that includes personality. We can all attest to this, being a jerk makes someone unattractive; being kind and interesting makes them hotter. And remember, job, status, height, age, hair color, jawlines, amount of facial symmetry all of these shortcuts we use to screen our prospective partners don’t affect the quality of a relationship.
Well you may say I was not born with a perfect nose or the perfect jawline. What can I do to get ahead in life? How can I who was born less lucky become more lucky? Physical attractiveness is both your appearance and how much you make the most of what you have. Confidence in yourself can be more attractive than high cheekbones!
Like anything worth having in life, you have to work on it. I want you to think for a moment about something you have accomplished in your life that you are really proud of…Take a moment. Think about it. Do you have it? Ok, now think about all the time you spent to accomplish it. Think back to all the hardships and failures but you persisted despite it being hard at times, and you got it! And now you are so proud. You are confident that if you want it you can make it happen. If it came easy, if this was freely given to you, perhaps you would NOT be so proud of it. This is a life lesson, to want anything. Know your why, why do you want something, be convinced that this is the best for you and you won’t harm others in getting it, then work hard at it, be persistent, know that you will fail but that’s part of your journey and keep going until you get it, have fun doing it, and before you know it, you have it! That is where all the rewards are in life.
The same thing holds true to beauty. You have to work on it. Performing aesthetic labor is your responsibility. Know that managing your appearance and such grooming affects your being perceived as attractive! Think back to my story in the bank. We have total control of our perceived confidence, the way we stand, walk, our wardrobe, accessories, and our body (physical fitness, height/weight proportions, hair, skin, teeth, and body odor). Think of this study next time you want to go to work: women who wear an amount of makeup considered professionally suitable make more money than those who go barefaced.18 Being well groomed signals to others your desire to be the best version of yourself, to being agreeable, and a desire to maintain good relationships with others.19
How can we make ourselves more beautiful?
- Living a healthy lifestyle: eating well, being kind to others, generosity, sustainable living can all help you feel better and thus manifest your feeling externally into your attitude, behaviors, and in turn your beauty. A confident, kind, happy person with good energy is extremely attractive!
- Mentally: being in a good head space will directly affect all aspects of life. Love yourself. Know you are special! Be at peace with your actions and those around you. Be grateful as this is the key to happiness. Meditation can help calm the mind, center the soul and increase your self love and confidence. A confident, kind, happy person with good energy is extremely attractive!
- Physically: Your body is a gift. It is precious. Treat this gift kindly. It wants to move so move it. Work out, train, stay healthy and it will serve you for the rest of your life. Treat it poorly, neglect it and it will make you suffer all your life. Exercise, eat a balanced diet, drink lots of water, and sleep. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. They are both extremely attractive.
During a time of uncertainty and pandemic, we are in less contact with others. There is less access to seek your hairstylist, your make-up artist, your nail experts, and your plastic surgeon for your desired surgery or a quick in and out filler and injectables. You are socially distancing, so you “let yourself go” and with it so does your physical self-perception of your beauty, and this will directly affect your mental well-being and mood and in turn how people see you. It is up to you and only you to take action and eat well. Train your body and maintain your inner wellbeing which will shine your inner beauty outwards for all to see and for you to enjoy!
“Make yourself as hot as possible, and then stand up tall. Make the most of what you’ve got. You’re a 10 to someone, so go out and conquer the world.”20
Article contributed by Dr Hani Sinno; Father and Plastic Surgeon
Dr Sinno is a man of humanistic attributes and talents. Primarily he is a devoted father, environmentalist and an artist. He believes that each new day is a privileged blessing and strives to enjoy a life of health, contribution and adventure. He achieves this through a healthy sustainable lifestyle of indoor and outdoor sports, nature and meditation. Dr. Hani Sinno’s clinic in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile chic neighborhood feels like an extension of the nearby Museum of Fine Arts. As patients are warmly welcomed by Dr. Sinno into his exquisitely decorated offices in Victoria Park Medispa to discuss their aesthetic desires, they find themselves transported into a world of elegance, beauty and luxury. This first elated encounter is only the introduction to the “Dr. Hani Sinno Experience’’; a refined world of subtle glamour and seductive appeal.
Feature image via Sermo
- Madeline E. et al. “When beauty is beastly: the effects of appearance and sex on evaluations of job applications for managerial and nonmanagerial jobs”. Organizational behavior and human performance 23, no. 3. 1979: 360-72
- Judith J. Langlois et al., : “Infant attractiveness predicts maternal behaviors and attitudes,” Development psychology 31, no 3 (1995): 464-72
- Rick K. Wilson and Catherine C. Eckel, “Judging a book by its cover: beauty and expectations in the trust game,: political research quarterly 59, no. 2 (2006): 189-202
- S. Michael Kalick, “Physical attractiveness as a status cue,” Journal of experimental social psychology 24, no 6 ( 1988): 469-89.
- Peter L Benson et al., “Pretty pleases: the effect of physical attractiveness, race, and sex on receiving help,” journal of experimental social psychology 12, no. 5 (1976): 409-15
- G. P. Elovitz and J. Saliva, “Attractiveness as a biasing factor in the judgement of school psychologists,” Journal of school psychology 20 (1982): 339-45
- Pamela Kenealy et al., “Influence of children’s physical attractiveness on teacher expectations,” Journal of social psychology 128, no. 3 (1988): 373-83
- Michael Ahearne et al., “If looks could sell: moderation and mediation of the attractiveness effect on salesperson performance,” International journal of research in marketing 16, no 4 (1999): 269-84.
- Sigall and Ostrove, “ Beautiful but dangerous.” As quoted by Karla Starr. Can you learn to be luck? Reference in Chapter 4, Page 204. Published New York 2018. ISBN 9781591846864
- Rotem Kowner, “Susceptibility to physical attractiveness comparison on the role of attributions in protecting self-esteem, “Psychologia 39 (1996): 150-62.
- Timothy Judge et al., “Does it pay to be smart, attractive, or confident (or all three)? Relationships among general mental ability, physical attractiveness, core self-evaluation, and income,: journal of applied psychology 94, no. 3 (2009): 742-55.
- Zebrowitz and Montepare, “Social Psychological face perception”; White and Kenrick, “why attractive candidates win.”
- Anthony C Little, “attraction and human mating,” in Zeigler-Hill, Welling, and Shackelford, Evolutionary perspectives on social psychology, 319-32.
- Gillian Rhodes, “Evolutionary psychology of facial beauty,” Annual review of psychology 57 (2006): 199-226.
- Karla Starr interview, Feb 20 2015; cf. Tor D. Wager and Lauren Y. Atlas, “The Neuroscience of Placebo Effects: Connecting Context, Learning, and Health,” Nature Reviews Neuroscience 16 (2015): 403-18.
- Peter M. Todd et al., “Different cognitive processes underlie human mate choices and mate preferences,” Proceedings of the national academy of sciences 104, no. 2 (2014): 133-49.
- Anderson et al., “Aesthetic Capital.”
- Olga Khazan, “The makeup tax: women who wear makeup earn more and are treated better. This has steep costs,in both money and time,” Atlantic, Aug 5, 2015, www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/08/the-makeup-tax/400478/;Wong and Penner, “Gender and the returns to attractiveness”.
- Brian P. Meier et al. “Are sociable people more beautiful?” A zero-acquaintance analysis of agreeableness, extraversion, and attractiveness,” Journal of research in personality 44, no. 2 (2010): 293-96.
- Karla Starr. Can you learn to be lucky? Chapter 4, Page 66. Published New York 2018. ISBN 9781591846864.