Saturday 1 October 2016

Why being truly beautiful is not always a positive attribute

Published 17/06/2014 | 02:30

15/5/12 Sharon Corr with her photo at the opening of photographer Barry McCall's exhibition Pho20graphy, at the Copper House Gallery, Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
15/5/12 Sharon Corr with her photo at the opening of photographer Barry McCall's exhibition Pho20graphy, at the Copper House Gallery, Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins

It won't come as a shock to many to find out that Sharon Corr may just be too beautiful. The producer of the Sky Arts series 'Portrait of the Year 2014' admitted that Corr might be too stunning for the portrait painters to paint.

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Corr, pictured below, is not the only women to have this problem. Being too beautiful can be a hindrance in all areas of life. According to research, being pretty is the holy grail, but being beautiful is too intimidating.

Cameron Diaz, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful women in the world, worries about the reaction of younger girls towards her. She explains that young female extras on film sets constantly come up to her and tell her that she's pretty and her hair's perfect as is her make-up and her clothes . . .

"It's sweet, but it worries me that girls are conditioned to value themselves and judge each other by how they look."

Unfortunately, that is the way society works. Good looks have always been considered an asset. Even babies are more drawn to good-looking people. But it seems that the tide is turning on the 'too good-looking'.

It has always paid to be pretty but now we are discovering that it doesn't always pay to be beautiful.

In America there have been two widely publicised cases where women were chastised for their looks. In a leaked email, Colonel Lynette Arnhart expressed her anger at an image of Corporal Kristine Tejada that appeared in the 'United States Army magazine'. The photo ran with an article that was raising awareness for a campaign to encourage greater equality.

Arnhart however was not impressed with Tejada looking so attractive. "Such photos undermine the rest of the message . . . in general ugly women are perceived as competent, while pretty women are perceived as having used their looks to get ahead."

The army might want to leave that particular gem out of their recruitment ads.

The other high-profile case was when an all-male Supreme Court in Iowa ruled that dentist James Knight was within his rights to dismiss his assistant, Melissa Nelson, because he found her 'irresistible' and thus a potential threat to his marriage.

Poor Knight, how stressful for him to have to work with someone attractive. Perhaps he should have got Nelson to wear a burka to help him control his urges. Or maybe he should just move to Kabul. He'd fit right in.

Being too pretty for a job is something that comes up a lot. In one study of job applicants, beautiful women who included a photo with their résumé were 41pc less likely to land an interview than "plain" women who did the same.

Being too good-looking can cost you opportunities and promotions. The severity of this cost will often depend on the gender and attractiveness of your interviewer or boss.

This is where the real problem lies – it's not about the beauty of the applicant or employee, it's about the insecurity of the person who is in charge.

Psychologist Maria Agthe found that attractive applicants for a graduate scholarship received more favourable ratings from opposite-sex evaluators but not from same-sex ones. Women actually penalised female applicants for being good-looking.

Agthe also found that if the woman interviewing was attractive herself, she wasn't threatened or bothered by the applicant's beauty. But if the interviewer was average looking, she penalised the beautiful applicant.

It's sad but true. Who would want their husband to have a secretary that looked like Cameron Diaz? Show me a woman who wants to hire a nanny that looks like a Scandinavian supermodel. Women often see beautiful younger women as a threat. These fresh, lithe candidates make the older women feel unattractive and inadequate. So Ugly Betty gets the job while the perfectly qualified stunner goes home confused.

We live in a world obsessed with youth and beauty. Women now spend more time and money than ever before trying to look better and younger. So why do we punish others for being beautiful?

The next time you're interviewing someone for a job, try not to let their physical attributes cloud your decision, base it on merit alone.

As for the gorgeous candidates, to be in with a chance of getting the job, they need to make sure their skirts reach their knees and that their blouses are buttoned.

Finally, for the 99pc of women who feel insecure about how they look and wish they were better looking, this should make you feel better – when accused of murder, beautiful women are more likely to be presumed guilty.

Sinead Moriarty

Irish Independent

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