Talent and Beauty: Mutually Exclusive?

Maybe not.

Okay, this post has been prompted by a discussion in the comments at Me and Richard. (Sorry for this aimless ramble. One of these days I’ll figure out what I’m doing and develop a coherent theme for this blog.) The question was, if an actor is good looking, does that prevent him from being taken seriously as a performer? Are these two qualities mutually exclusive?

I used to feel that beautiful people skated by on their looks, to the detriment of other personal qualities. Why work extra-hard, if you could get what you wanted simply by looking beautiful?

The skills and abilities we develop to handle life’s challenges are like tools in a toolbox. As the proverb says, “To a man who has a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” For some people, beauty is their hammer—the only tool they’ve got.

To my way of thinking, people who can’t (or don’t think they can) rely upon their physical appearance to get ahead are forced to develop other skills: They get smart, or they practice a skill, or they learn how to make friends and influence people. In the long run, these tools last longer than physical beauty. They also give a person some different options to try, if one approach doesn’t work.

Many gorgeous people don’t bother to extend themselves in that way. But it’s a kind of prejudice, to look at someone who’s really good looking and assume there is nothing else there. Often, capable individuals are overlooked and their abilities underrated because they look too pretty.

We all need to work to increase the number and variety of tools in our life-skills toolbox. The basic ones are best: Kindness, diligence, responsibility, perspective. Humor. Self-respect. But esoteric, specialized skills are good too, even if you don’t use them every day: A passion for Esperanto, say, or papier-mache or tap dancing. Whatever you enjoy learning or doing, do it. Nothing you ever learn is wasted; ideas are the adornment of our souls. And ultimately, I think that is what we see in another person–we see their entire self, body and soul, and that is what we are attracted to. The whole package.

So people really don’t have to lose their looks to be recognized for their talent, at least not in my book. A great bod and a beautiful face are lovely to behold, but the sexiest part of a person is their brain.

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