It’s one of the oldest lessons in the book. “Looks aren’t everything. Not all that glitters is gold. Look at what’s on the inside, not the outside.” We grow up hearing these lines over and over again. They’re so familiar that we hardly think about them—we know it’s not smart to judge by appearances. But there’s a reason we have so many sayings like this. It’s such an easy trap to fall for that we usually don’t even realize we’ve done it.
And that’s exactly the danger. The research done on this topic has actually been fairly conclusive. Studies on job interviews show that the more attractive candidate is much more likely to get hired, all else being even close to equal. Not only that, but in those cases where they aren’t, if you ask the interviewer, a lot of them will tell you that they thought the attractive person deserved a better job, and that’s why they didn’t hire them.
Unfairness to others isn’t the only concern, either. I was on the heavy side as a child and got teased for it. Eventually, I made sort of Scarlett O’Hara life vow, “As God is my witness, I will never be teased for my body again!” I got in really good shape over the next few years, and what do you know, I didn’t get teased anymore and girls suddenly took a lot of interest in me. Sounds like a success-story, right?
But here’s the catch: my physical condition had become an obsession. In fact, it eventually contributed to nearly destroying my marriage (and nearly everything else in my life) before I realized where I’d gone wrong and, by the grace of God, got back on the right track. It’s a little bit similar to the problems faced by anorexics. I’ve worked with a number of these, most of them perfectly nice to look at, who can look at the mirror and literally, physically see a problem with their body that isn’t there.
Problems like these are everywhere. In my years of counseling and therapy, every single woman I’ve worked with who was exceptionally beautiful had some kind of complex related to that beauty. They worried about losing that beauty as they aged, or the kind of attention it attracted. Of course, physical attractiveness can be a gift as well, as long as it’s kept in the proper context.
More than anything, this is an issue of awareness. That means looking beyond the physical appearance of those around us, yes. But even more than that, it means awareness of ourselves. We all see the surface level first, and to a certain extent, it is natural and even harmless. I think the point where it becomes problematic is when you stop there, and the way to guard against that is to be aware of our tendencies and intentional about how we look at others.
Without that, I would have missed out on relationships with some of the kindest, most wonderful people I’ve ever met, not to mention that my personal obsession with fitness probably would have ruined a big chunk of my adult life. The rule of thumb here is that if you don’t think about this stuff, it affects you more than you know. So this week, I encourage you to question your own perceptions and go beyond the surface.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!