Lately this video has been making the rounds in my corner of the internet:
(summary: Dustin Hoffman went about as a woman for a movie role. He was crushed when he was told that they couldn’t make him beautiful. And he realized how many women he’d simply dismissed out of hand because they weren’t beautiful rather than getting to know the person, and felt remorseful. It’s a very good video, you should watch it if you have 3 minutes.)
The message is a resounding “Don’t Be Shallow.” Dustin Hoffman was obviously very shallow at one point. This is a good message, but I’ve seen it interpreted a few times as “Looks Don’t Matter.” You’ll notice that in the video he still has styled hair, nice clothing, and a general good appearance.
Rachael Acks recently wrote “I will never be beautiful”. Having met her in person, I immediately wanted to reply with “Yes you are!” even though she specifically said she didn’t want that sort of reply (I did manage to restrain myself). She said it would feel like a lie, and in a way, I suppose it is. She, like most people I know, will not be a model. She won a roughly average payout in the Looks department of the genetic lottery. I’ll skip the usual social/normative issues about beauty and go to the question that intrigued me – why did I immediately want to say she did look good, when it seems that isn’t the case? Why do I still feel that way?
I think it’s because she obviously cares for herself. And that is attractive. That someone puts effort into keeping a nice image says good things about them. If they can’t be bothered to put in some personal maintenance, it seems unlikely they have much respect for themselves. Their presence probably will not enrich your life.
I was berated recently for avoiding some people based on their slovenly appearance, and reminded that I shouldn’t judge people by how they look. I disagree to a point. Dismissing people because they didn’t win the genetic lottery in one specific field is stupid, and Mr Hoffman probably missed out on a lot of great relationships and opportunities for his earlier stupidity. But that’s different from having no respect for yourself, and for those around you. That’s what makes Ms Acks attractive, and what makes anyone who gives a damn about how they present themselves to others attractive.
Giving a shit is attractive.