Looking the Part
Looks are very important to people, but not many realize how much it matters. America’s whopping $40 billion diet market and a $20 billion international market for cosmetic surgery prove just how much people want to look good by changing themselves to do so. Attractive people are more compelling as leaders.
In the book, Lord of the Flies by William Golding, a group of young, English boys are stranded on an island with no surviving adults. Left scattered around the island due to the plane crash, the boys are summoned to the beach by a blast of sound from a conch. The boys, ranging from six to twelve years old, introduced themselves to each other. They appointed a group of hunters and voted for a chief. Ralph was ultimately chosen because he looked like leadership material and was the one who blew the conch. The author makes this clear by saying, “...there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch.” (22) These children, having no better judgement, relied on image to choose their leader. Grown-ups aren’t so much different, they just aren’t as obvious about it. Everyone judges people based on their first impression whether they like it or not. It is a scientific fact. Ralph was one of the oldest of the bunch and handsome which set him apart from the rest. The narrator puts great emphasis on Ralph’s appealing features by providing a full description, “You could see now that he might make a boxer, as far as width and heaviness of shoulders went, but there was a mildness about his mouth and eyes that proclaimed no devil.” (10) Without knowing it, the rest of the boys associated Ralph’s good looks with positive traits that made him perceived as suitable for a leader.
Though the book is fiction, people behave very similarly in real life. If one takes a good look at the most influential people in society like the Obamas, all of the most popular music icons, and Hollywood’s tv personalities, it is obvious that they are all beautiful human beings. Candidates in politics are no exception. An article from Stanford Magazine claims that researches confirms,“...good-looking candidates get more votes.” This is no surprise as no one would want to listen to a plain, frumpy politician babble on about the nation’s greatest dilemmas. The New York Times has found that “...features associated with beauty include smooth skin, shiny hair, body and facial symmetry.” The article states that these charming aspects are indicators of health proposing that this may be the reason why people tend to vote for the more attractive candidate whereas the less appealing receive less attention or even disregarded.
In contrast to the respect that the boys give to Ralph, one of the crew, Piggy, is completely shunned by the others because he is fat as his nickname suggests. Soon after they elect Ralph as chief and Jack as the head of the hunters, Jack, Ralph, and Simon head out to scavenge the island. Piggy offers to go, but is completely shut down. “We don’t want you, three’s enough,” Jack barks flatly. (24) Notice that when everyone first met each other at the beach, Ralph was automatically given the floor to speak and had everyone’s attention. However, when Piggy attempts to tag along, he does not get nearly the same amount of respect as Ralph. There can be no other reason for this except for Piggy’s ugliness. His appearance is the very first detail the author touches on making sure to describe his plump belly and the way his round glasses lays low on his nose. Throughout the rest of the book, Piggy continues to be ignored and bullied by his peers.
Those who do not meet society’s definition of beauty are punished in ways that the public does not notice. Appearance bias is powerful. Studies indicate that better looking people receive more favorable treatment. Though attractiveness gives people an advantage, it only has a very instantaneous effect as other aspects like intelligence comes into consideration. Moreover, a pretty face does not make up for incompetence.
Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin Group, 2003.
White, Andrew Edward, and Douglas T. Kenrick. "Why Attractive Candidates Win." The New York
Times. The New York Times, 01 Nov. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/opinion/sunday/health-beauty-and-the-ballot.html>.
Goudreau, Jenna. "Why Attractive People Are More Likely To Be Leaders." Business Insider. Business
Insider, Inc, 26 Sept. 2013. Web. 04 Apr. 2016. <http://www.businessinsider.com/why-attractive-people-are-more-likely-to-be-leaders-2013-9>.
Platoni, Kara. "Fair Enough?" Stanford Magazine. Stanford University, Sept.-Oct. 2010. Web. 04 Apr.