Is Life Easier If You’re “Attractive?”

Since my son only reads the article to the links I send, and we’ll just reduce that to a fraction…I should be safe telling this story that would otherwise make him livid. A few years ago, he dabbled in modeling. He didn’t seek it out. He was approached while working part time at a retail store that targeted his very demographic and asked if he would be willing to model some of their clothing. He wasn’t super elated about it, but he agreed to do it. He loathed even having a candid taken, so I knew this would be interesting, having to hold poses, only to reshoot the same set repeatedly, for hours at a time. Not my boy, at all. Now, I can say with utmost lack of bias, my kids are incredibly good looking people. They just are. I hear it, often. They hear it, often. One day, while on a lunch break, between shoots, my son walked into a local sandwich shop nearby the outdoor photo venue. Behind the counter was a little 20-something cutie, long blonde hair and immediately flirtatious with  my son. In front of Caleb was another young man, who was clearly in line ahead of him. Instead, she overlooked this customer, completely, offering to take Caleb’s order first, even though he gestured to the guy in front of him, noting the obvious, that he was there first. She brazenly dismissed this fact and said, “It’s fine, today’s your lucky day…you’re first.” Caleb had a big problem with this. The three stood there, as he spoke up and said, “That’s just messed up. Take his order.” And, he told the kid, another 20-something, to order. Awkward. For everyone. Who wants to have a preferred individual feel the need to take a stand for you? While he may have appreciated it, it was as much about the girl behind the counter as it was about the average looking, gentle mannered, slightly heavy kiddo who’d been passed over one time too many, by my son’s standards. When it was clear to the girl she’d just been shut down, she begrudgingly took both orders, respectively, while Caleb made small talk with the avenged guy in front of him. They were laughing about bro stuff while the girl set about her duties, now, ignored by both of her customers. They were just two guys, in a sandwich shop, chatting about things like music, sports and ended up continuing the banter and sat together, whereas both would have otherwise dined alone. As Caleb ordered, he didn’t exchange pleasantries with the girl, as is his norm. He was blunt and communicated just enough to tell her what he wanted for lunch. And, it definitely wasn’t her. “Mom, she was like this beautiful creature…and, then, she opened her mouth and she was ugly.” I listened before I spoke. When it seemed he’d said all he was going to say, he paused…but the silence was pregnant…”Mom, you’re beautiful…but, do you ever wish people saw your heart and got to know your personality before they judged you on your looks? WHY is life easier if you’re good looking?” He went on to say that the guy he’d talked to at the sandwich shop was so interesting. He told Caleb the basics of his life…he played several musical instruments, a “wow” factor to my kid, learning the guitar and piano, simultaneously and becoming a pretty good dj, to be self taught on equipment meant for DJs more advanced than Caleb. But, mix, he could. He kept the dance floor full. Another place in the world where looks were really all that mattered…clubs. Caleb would mix for several hours and often have to clear out the DJ box, there were so many groupies hovering around him, buying him drinks and paying unmerited homage to his biology. He found the behavior shallow and irritating, at best. He didn’t appreciate their superficial attention of his good looks. “If you’re a murderer and you’re attractive, you’re gonna get through life easier than someone labeled as ‘ugly’ by society’s’ standards. That’s seriously messed up.” This pivotal moment in my son’s life turned him off to modeling, entirely. He never did another shoot. He spent a lot of time searching his soul, for a kid of 18. I was never more proud, mainly because I’d not influenced his decision. He knew he was walking away from some potential signings as a model. He knew the slots were rare and coveted. He knew the guy in the sandwich shop would never be offered such an opportunity, unless he fit the mold. That Caleb happened to fill a bunch of squares, physically, only turned him off to the pursuit of the profession even more. What if genetics dictated that he was 5’9″ instead of 6’2″? What if he had red, curly, unruly hair instead of blonde, straight locks? What if his skin wasn’t flawless? What if hormones made their way to his face, leaving behind unwelcomed blemishes? No, Caleb knew he wasn’t chosen for anything other than a bunch of squares that would make money for Vans. That he’d be compensated was like getting money for factors out of his control. They could work with him on technique and how to give the camera the look they were seeking. But, they couldn’t do much with height, the wrong hair, the wrong jawline, the wrong body. And, not a single person in the company would lose a minute’s sleep over him not being their guy. This realization probably  “cost” my kid a signing that, who knows, may have landed him on a billboard in Times Square…I could see it. But, more than I could ever be proud of that, I am unspeakably proud of the fact that not only is this kid not hung up on himself and his looks, but will actually excuse himself from anyone not interested in some human connection. And, if you’re downright ugly on the inside, watch out. He doesn’t mind hurting your feelings for being an insensitive jerk. Ask Ms. cutie at the sandwich shop. As to his original question…Why IS life easier if you’re good looking? Why, if we fit into a biographical profile labeled, “desirable,” do we get the easier path? Better treatment at the restaurant? More attention at the club? Aside from what we all learned in Biology 101- that we intuitively seek mates based on their reproductive qualities. Ok. Whatever. I call BS. There may be some merit there when we’re looking to settle down and have a child, but before that, are we naturally inclined to dismiss a 6 if a 10 is in the room? You are now a 2 and I really don’t want to sit with you. I really didn’t want to rant, and dammit, I did. I wanted to end on a positive note of awareness in how we treat others based on appearance. Pretty Woman stuff. (If you’re under 30, that’s a movie starring Julia Roberts. Watch it.) More importantly, challenge yourself to pay close attention for a solid week, to how you categorize others without so much of a thought. Are you friendlier to the UPS driver if he’s beautiful? Do you sit next to the Greek-God looking dude in a crowded lobby or next to the overweight and fine with it dude with some bbq sauce on his too small college football t-shirt that should have found its way to Goodwill a decade ago? Ok..That’s a tough one, I’ll admit…not fair. But, it should at least cause us ALL to pause and recognize that we affect others more by our indifference or avoidance than we ever do by verbalizing our ugly thoughts. The avoided have told themselves what the world is thinking, usually. At least, I’ve found this to be the case. Just like the overlooked young man at the sandwich shop told my son, “I’m used to it.” He said it with a chuckle, as if to blow it off. And, maybe there is a slight sense of insulating his feelings because he anticipates unfair treatment. It doesn’t mean, that on a daily basis, we are building up and tearing down others because of the most UNFAIR, UNDESERVING, INGENUINE reason…their LOOKS. Ugh! I can’t even! That’s how basic that thought is, to me. So, before you swipe left or right, (No, I’ve never had a Tinder profile, but I find the idea that a company is making millions, because they know we will dismiss or approve of people based solely on a filtered, “had-to-take-the-pic-32-times, please pick me” head-shot, DISGUSTING.) That’s not my 40’s talking, that’s my humanity. Caleb got it at 18. How old will you be when you start to place looks far down on the list in finding a person attractive or ugly? That dude with bbq sauce is probably as funny as the day is long…and everyone who knows me knows I am a total sucker for ‘funny’…Go out there and see how many “10’s” you’ve been overlooking. Peace, you sexy Warriors.

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