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Why does society focus on looks instead of knowledge?

This is really the only place I can ask this. When I do, I always get the "God loves you" or "God don't make ugly" response. I know I'm intelligent. I know I have a good personality. Why can't the beauty of my brain and personality shine externally? I've spent my entire life being judged by my looks and weight. I'm tired of it when I feel I have so much else to offer.

Melbates 7 Feb 11

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I thought that was my problem too. I changed the way I look(not entirely intentionally) and discovered that it only attracts the people I don't want. Lol. Being more active and going for a make over won't hurt you and you might find you like it.


Start with a foundation of biology:
"That looks like a good mother/father for my future offspring."

...create a social structure around it:
"The pretty/healthy ones are worth more; you have to compete harder to get one."

...inflate the whole thing with economics:
"Buy 'Sex-O'--'Sex-O' will make you irresistible to whomever it is you're trying to bang!"

...and viola! A culture that worships physical beauty.

That's only half the story. The other half is the story about how intelligence comes to be considered a social liability, which inhibits one's chances of landing a mate. Another time, perhaps.

@Stevil Oh I know; I'm not a fan of the phenomenonal system I outlined above. I was actually a little weirded out whenever someone approached me just because they liked my appearance (all 3 times in my life that happened!). For me, I can't imagine being "into" someone before you've ever even talked to them. I think I just keep forgetting that for others, especially men (no offense gents), it's less about being into a person than it is getting into them, if you know what I mean...

Thank you for making me laugh.

stinkeye_a Humans have it bass-akwards. The MALES should be all fixed up to attract females, and the FEMALES should be plain, because males need females to procreate. That is how it is with animals. We are just the animal at the top of the food chain. Jus' sayin'

True for the human-animal everything goes back to breeding. Sexual attractiveness in the female form is hip to waist ratio which signals fertility

@Kojaksmom I wonder if things got switched around because women didn't want to be known only as fertile or unfertile. An allergy to makeup has left me in the minority since my 20s, but I think that has kept my skin from looking 64 now.


Because society as a whole is lazy and shallow, but you've got one big advantage if someone likes you, you know it is you they like, not just what's wrapped round it. Knew a stunning girl at school that made multiple serious attempts at suicide because she was sick of people not looking past the surface, they wanted her to be the platinum blonde trophy when she was actually intelligent and thoughtful.
Unfortunately when people are judged solely on external appearance nobody wins. We all want to be loved for who we are not how we look.

Kimba Level 7 Feb 11, 2018

I understand where she's coming from, not in the looks department but the mental state. I have Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and PTSD. Was just released from hospital January 4th after an almost successful suicide attempt. Being told my entire life that I'm stupid, fat and ugly and no one will ever want me has done a real number on my psyche.


I don't think it matters as much to men as we're raised to believe it does. I think our insecurity about it is a much bigger turnoff. I wish I'd figured that out 20 years ago.

@Stevil It's hard to get over that. Most of us are trained to spend all our money to be more appealing to men. It's difficult to overcome. Its own form of religion.

So many people lauded and praised me for losing 70 lbs, the results of which are my profile picture. But, those same people chastised me for giving into my depression and using food as my comfort, therefore gaining back what I'd lost.

@Melbates You've regained your weight loss? I'm sorry. Is it possible that the quality of people in your life is a bigger problem than the food? Conditional approval is more painful than rejection, I think, because it goes on and on.

@Ride_Captain The sad truth is we're often trying to meet the standard of gay male fashion and beauty industry. How crazy is that?

@Lysistrata yes. My depression got bad then went downhill from there. Got worse in the last four months. Gained thirty lbs because I've been craving sweets more often than normal- quit smoking, food is my comfort, craving sugar, etc. I've been fighting the urge to buy a cake and eat the whole thing.

@Lysistrata and, as to the approval, I think it's more because of the inability of society to understand depression and other mental illnesses.

@Melbates One cake will never be enough. Have you spoken to anyone about medication for your depression?

@Lysistrata Yea, they changed my meds when I was in the treatment center over Christmas and New Year's.


It's easy to be pretty not easy to be intelligent . So the pretty made others believe they are worth more

interesting perspective, never looked at it that way

@Rugglesby starts in school all the pretty ones pick on , bully and put down the intelligent ones .granted there are parts of society it doesn't carry on to but the majority society still follows suit

Pretty is surface, but stupid goes skin deep?

If I put up a picture of my sister and I, you wouldn't believe we're related. She was almost a model, except she doesn't have my height. She was a size 0 all her life until her second child in her mid 20's. My entire life, she's been my biggest tormentor while at the same time protecting me from others bullying.


We've been programmed to think that way. Fortunately, some of us have turned off the TV and are beginning to think for ourselves.

My brain has faulty wiring due to years of torment.

The brain can be rewired. Mine has been.

@LimeySteve currently working on that with intensive therapy.


Because most people are intimidated by intelligence.

I'd rather they be intimidated by my brain than to hint I'm not pretty enough/thin enough.


I think in large part it has to do with the fact that we are a patriarchal world. Men long ago used their physical strength to dominate. Society has dictated that women's value is physical attractiveness, because men like to look at pretty women, and it objectifies, demeans, and devalues them at the same time. It also makes women more competitive and divisive with other females, and this benefits males, as well. Women are starting to wise up....starting....there is also the fact that physical attractiveness is a basic initial way to ensure the genders come together.

marga Level 7 Feb 11, 2018

Weird that in the animal world females rule and the males have to dance for attention.


I think the exaggerated emphasis on visual aesthetic "beauty" is exacerbated by propaganda from the self-serving fashion/cosmetics industry. However, not all members of society follow the (visual appearance defining beauty) pretence. For example, when the old Sarah Palin "beauty pageant" images became a widely published media event I found myself in a state of disbelief. I had earlier watched Palin on a 60 Minutes interview and found her (lack of) intellectual integrity to render her utterly repulsive. In her "beauty photos" I visually found her completely lacking any attribute I (and I thought most rational others) would associate with beauty. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. There are many (myself included) who define beauty on a person's character, not their visual attributes.

Faulty character definitely comes out in one's face and bearing. Any astute person will see it over good looks. The eyes are the soul.

@Akfishlady Agreed. Any time I encountered Palin's voice I wanted her to just go away and never return. Strangely? I have a similar response every time I hear Trump speak. To quote Rufus Scrimgeour "These are dark times, there is no denying. . . . "

And yet so many people find Sarah so intelligent and beautiful! There was a woman a couple years ago who sat down at the table where my Drinking Liberally group was, and said that we hated Sarah because she was smart and pretty. She was there to gloat because so many Republicans had won seats in elections across the nation that year. It took moxy for her to sit there with us, I'll give her that, but a whole lot of drink too!

@RhondaShotwell Agreed! My daily routine includes working out at the local YMCA (great weights etc) as I go every day I pay more (yearly enrolment) for the "Men's fitness locker" that includes a sauna, hot tub television room with recliners and big screen tv, free towels etc but this locker room is a vile hive of devout Republicans. When Sarah was in the news, I can recall many Face-Palm moments when old republicans made the same observations about how beautiful and smart Sarah was and what a great leader she will make. In that environment, I represent a very small minority of rational thinking people.


Nobody body crosses the dance floor because they think you maybe smart. its the genes at work. They pick, then its your job to adapt to their choice. Plus people spend hours in the gym, to make them more attractive, but as I've said many a time you can change the shape of the cake tin but the cake that comes out will still be the same. People are attracted to intelligent but its not the genes first choice.


Humans have been around for 10s or 100s of thousands of years, what is deemed attractive was largely built around procreation, strong guys, busty wide hipped women. Now wealth is a big one for survival, so people emulate the wealthy. In fat any sign of success, sports prowess, fame as an actor, these are all now sexy. Humans haven't had long enough to deal with intelligence, plus I think they fear and resent us. But are we any better, I am an old scruffy guy, I get more attention from less intelligent ladies than those I could hold a good conversation with.

Yes. Like shy people get attention from goofy,shy people who may or may not be competent.


The truth of the matter, is that people can be cruel when you aren't perceived as attractive or whether you are. You have to know who to avoid and when. Some people will avoid you for being perceived as unattractive - then again they could overlook that and use you for your bank account. People use people for sex. It's the worst when they use you for both. The best thing you can do is use your intelligence to know when that is happening. It may sound cliche, but love is blindness. There is someone for everyone. Your match may not be perceived by the mainstream as a 10, but in your eyes he will be. Just keep looking and I'll bet you find him.


I think part of it is evolutionary to an extent. In general, "looks" connote the state of one's health, societal status, and attention to hygiene. Add to that, the details of that attractiveness as far as popular culture changes over time. Being rotund and undarkened by toil in the sun was a sign of prosperity. Now tan and thin is in.

Personal preferences play a part outside of societal norms as desirability often seems to run the gamut.

Good point, one of my favourite examples re health is dairy maids. Back in the days of small pox, dairy maids usually caught cow pox which gave them immunity. So the dairy maids had good complexions when the rest of the women were pock marked. how cool is that?


Our eyes dominate in our brain.

Imagine: if we were all blind we would have to go on sound and smell.

@GoldenMean That reminds me of a science fiction story where the world has gone deaf, dumb and blind. The only person who can see , talk an hear is the protagonist. All communication was by touch and signing into people's hands. Very interesting. It is one of the stories from an anthology called Dangerous Visions, compiled by Harlan Ellison.


We were born with three eyes.

2 for looking.
1 for seeing.
Only problem?

We've forgotten how to see.


I've said this for years. It's a terrible form of discrimination. It starts very young, the beautiful kind princess, the ugly stepsisters, the ugly witch, people who are ugly are always the mean ones and the kind intelligent people are beautiful. It's society, but no one considers it discrimination. Yet it is!

Very, very true. Black is bad. White is good. Ugly is bad. Pretty is good.

@Melbates so sad we are so wrong in how we perceive people.


Chemistry is fun, but temporary. Lasting relationships are based on the things you mentioned. When you find the right person, it'll be things like a shared sense of humor or perspective on life that will keep you together and happy.

For me, sense of humor attracts me the most. Being supportive and a good listener are a close second. I'm not interested in spending decades with someone with whom I'm afraid to be seen without makeup. We should be able to laugh together and find strength with each other during tough times. That's a real relationship. Don't sweat the shallow people. They aren't worth your energy to care about their opinion.

I know this but it's so hard to remember when you're 37 and wondering when you become the crazy old cat lady.

Lol.....see there’s that humor. Stay positive hon. @Melbates


Met a "Miss Georgia" in college. We were going to a toga party and she was the sweetest human being. - That being said she told me that only the really attractive men ever asked her out and often that was not what she wanted in a mate. That they were incredibly shallow people and got by on only their looks.
So that sword cuts both ways.
I think we all need to know it all falls into a happy medium somewhere. Something in the physical you can appreciate and definitely something in the intelligence and behavior department. Ok that's over simplifying I know....

Nobby Nobbs girlfriend in Discworld is a play on that very real problem.


I agree having had a similar existence by the sound of it. All I can say is that as I've got older I find women more attractive the more I've got to know them, not much help I'm afraid, but there's obviously a lot more to attraction than the facial as I've taken a long time to find out. I'm a glass half full person so hope springs eternal, i hope it does for you even though it does grind you down a bit 🙂


Because we're good little sherp


We are all attracted to who we are attracted to. People are attracted to other people for different reasons. For me it is a combination of things. Looks, humor, intelligence all come into play for me. I have to love the face. We spend more time looking at the more than any other body part and it doesn't always have to be perfect
The sexiest faces are most often not the perfect ones.


Because it is easier to verify beauty than it is to verify knowledge or intelligence.


I’m so sorry to hear that melbates. I hate how shallow and superficial this world can be.
Being educated in Personality Psychology we are hard wired as human beings to respond to our stupid conventional standards of beauty.....I’m also educated in Social it’s a genetic instinct to the point that even babies will respond to what society considers beauty......I hated having to explain to my daughter that she lives in such a shallow world where beauty is equivalent to currency.
But there are people out there who can see past the way someone looks and recognize the beauty in your heart, your brain, and your just have to find them....and ANY “god “ has nothing to do with it.
I think you’re beautiful simply from your post.

Thank you for your kind words. I've been struggling with so many mental health issues due to the belief I'm stupid, fat and ugly and no one will ever want me. I can't even look in a mirror because that mindset was set in stone so long ago.

You are so welcome. I live in Virginia but grew up in Garland, Texas. I’m willing to give you my phone number to be your friend and would even be willing to invest frequent flyer miles to visit. Just let me know what you need hon.@Melbates

@Cbabcoco wow, now, that's quite an offer. LOL

How do I mail you?@Melbates

@Cbabcoco just send me a PM do I do that?@Melbates


Unfortunately , that's true . But I just learned , that there's a word , for folks who are turned on , by intelligence . I'm guilty of that . That said , it takes a little longer to see that someone is intelligent , than it takes to just see what someone looks like .



It is weird isnt it rather like someone arbitrarily saying this is beautiful this is not - When my mother was a young girl pre -war she was chubby and that was so the rage her sister was thin and didnt get any men then it all changed - I don't really know why we make it different .

I've read so much about that and it sometimes makes me feel like I was born in the wrong era.


It's an evolutionary response to the fact that our first impression of anyone comes from vision. Example1. Her face is symmetrical, so she is genetically sound breeding material. Example 2. She is muscular. She will be able to protect my child while I am hunting. Example 3. She has large breasts. If I cross this large field quickly, she may let me mate with her, because I could not only tell she was female from a long distance, therefore I must have good eyes, but she can see that I can run down prey and provide food for her and my offspring too. This may sound like a bunch of dry reading material, but it's more accurate than just saying that I'm a male chauvenist pig. By the way, I just took a look at your profile photo and you are neither fat, nor homely. Why are you fishing for compliments? Was one or more of us pigs picking on you?

Your comment made me laugh until you accused me of fishing for compliments. If you'll look at the preceding comments, you'll see very few compliments. Also, if you read my profile, you saw I just got out of treatment for attempting suicide due to severe depression.

@Melbates Sorry if I said anything out of line. I just got back from taking another look at your profile. I saw that you were homeless for 3 years. I saw that you got a college education. I saw that you want to become an administrative assistant. I saw nothing about depression or suicide. Lastly, when I said you are neither fat, nor homely, I was trying to give you a compliment. It might not have been the best compliment, but that's how it was intended. Again, I apologize.

@heathen77 my first post of my account was having just gotten out of treatment. I OD'd Christmas Eve morning on Amitriptyline, Trazodone, Tylenol 3's, Hydrocodone and ibuprofen. I wasn't found for twelve hours. My heart had stopped. I was in treatment until January 4th and sought out this site as a coping skill and looking for a support network. I've never sought attention or compliments.

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