MSN’s article Dating Down: Why Less Attractive Men Make Better Mates got me thinking about how we view our own beauty and attractiveness. Do normal (i.e. mentally healthy) people think they’re unattractive? I qualify the question with “normal” because I’m not referring to those with documented self-image or self-loathing issues.
I’m talking about regular people looking in the mirror. Does anyone think: “Wow, I’m ugly,” and truly believe it? (I hope not.) Sure, we compare ourselves to friends, celebrities, coworkers, strangers on the street, the supermodel table dancing at the club, and decide we’re less attractive by comparison. We have good hair days and bad, and moments when an outfit that looks fabulous inside translates into fashion road kill outside. But, these beauty and fashion missteps are redeemable.
Attitude, however, can turn an attractive man or woman ugly in a split second, which is part of the point of the MSN article. Outer beauty is one facet of overall attractiveness. Men lacking in the beauty department often come in a more attractive package because of their attitudes, their manners and their eagerness to do more to make their partners happy than their more attractive counterparts.
The title, Dating Down, bugs me, though, since an attractive package is an attractive package. One package includes a Brad Pitt, while another features a Will Ferrell. Both are attractive to their respective mates, maybe even for the same reason. The Ferrell type is hilarious, but he’s also considered “hot” by some women (likely Ferrell’s wife thinks so).
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder—yeah, yeah, yeah—but, seriously, what’s attractive to one person may not be attractive to another; yet, we’re quick to judge couples on their complementary (or lack thereof) beauty. I’m guilty of looking at two people and wondering how they ended up together; assuming they’re mismatched based on looks.
While, I don’t like the article’s insinuation that less attractive men fall all over themselves like lap dogs to please their more attractive mates, I agree with the idea that these men are socially conditioned to trade on their personalities, integrity and manners, unlike more attractive men who predominantly trade on their looks. This is not gender exclusive: the same principles apply to more and less attractive women.
“…a man who is better looking than his partner knows he has lots of other options besides his mate, so he's less committed to providing the emotional support long term relationships need to thrive.” Not so fast. If attractive women are increasingly choosing less attractive men, then the beautiful men better wise up. Given a choice between a Will Ferrell, a man who completely invests in a relationship, and a Brad Pitt, a man who always looks for something better, I’d choose Ferrell every time. Without hesitation.
Photo: Beauty and the Beast