Pretty is a thing, whereas beauty is a force. Although we live in a world where physical appearance is a currency, a differential engine drives life, so I asked some models, centerfolds and traditional glamor girls if there are any downsides to being "super-hot-looking." Here's what they said.
1. Their looks intimidate normal guys, making them less approachable. "I want a nice guy that I can feel safe with, who respects me for who I am, not what I look like, who makes me laugh and has a good heart," says Katherine Levchenko, a young, successful Russian model with an angelic face and a body that would tempt a Trappist monk. "I do not care about money as much as I care about passion and devotion to their work. Photo beauty gets attention, but it is not the kind of attention that helps build a relationship."
2. Their looks intimidate other women, making it hard to find, make and keep female friends.
3. "People presume that I am vain and shallow because of my looks," says Levchenko. "My looks are a marketable asset, so I manage them as any person would manage a vital asset. Taking care of yourself mentally, spiritually and physically is just a way of honoring the universe for creating you."
4. "People always think that I am dumb and vacuous," says a supermodel who wishes to remain anonymous. "You cannot look like I do and be vacuous. I was eating healthy, natural foods long before it became a fad. I take care of my mind, body and soul. Please tell me how that is vacuous."
5. People have less empathy for them because they are pretty. Some of them feel that people even take pleasure in their pain because of envy. Research shows that when someone watches an envied person experience a misfortune, strong activation occurs in the ventral striatum, a key reward node in the brain. Studies that compared regional brain activations between actual gains and relative gains indicated that even when a person experiences a loss, knowing that another person lost more increases striatal activity (indicating joy) to the same degree as an actual gain. This suggests that the ventral striatum plays a role in mediating the emotional consequences of social comparison.1-3
6. Their looks limit what they can wear in public because of people's reactions to their bodies. "If I throw on a pair of shorts and a halter top and run to the market, it will cause a commotion," says Levchenko. "Normal girls do not have that problem."
7. Men use them to accessorize their lives, as if they were an expensive suit or a flashy car. They say that also happens with very insecure women who just want to be friends with them to live vicariously through their experiences, as a buttress for sagging self-esteem.
8. Society forces them to rely on their looks and then condemns them for doing so. "Forced" might be a strong word, in my opinion, but we certainly encourage beautiful women to rely on their looks by extending special privileges to them.
9. Most men become so sexually excited when they get them in bed that they ejaculate prematurely. I guess this is an occupational hazard of being super-hot-looking. More importantly, when women look a certain way, men seem to be more interested in having sex with them than in making love to them.
10. "Men presume that I am a whore because of how I look," says Levchenko. "I also have bitch face." Apparently "bitch face" is commensurate with sultry-looking.
11. All of them have horror stories about stalkers who became fixated with them. Men followed them around in stores. One said that a man broke into her house, stole her panties and made a heart on her mirror with semen.
12. Their looks place them in awkward social situations. They feel that more boyfriends and husbands make inappropriate advances toward them than toward normal-looking women. The predominant concern is choosing between telling a friend or relative an unpleasant truth and keeping a nasty secret. Many said that when they did tell the truth, they lost the friendship.
According to these pretty women, the problems are difficulty meeting guys, people thinking they are dumb, people being less empathetic toward them, men not respecting them, and people looking at their bodies and thinking they know them without ever having met them. Does any of this sound familiar? Of course it does, because these are generic female issues.
How the drama unfolds varies from woman to woman. However, the plot line is the same: Society commodifies women. It does not matter what society calls you. Human emotion is generic. When we are lonely, frightened and trembling, it does not matter why. Envy and fear are ugly, insatiable, false gods, and pretty is a consensual reality that we offer to them constantly. However, beauty is an intrinsic force of nature, and there is enough darkness in this world to sustain the radiance of us all. We all have our private demons and public devils, and when it rains, it rains on us all. Therefore, our task is to know that the universe cherishes each of us equally, even if Madison Avenue may not. Remain fabulous and phenomenal.
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1. Dvash J, Gilam G, Ben-Ze'ev A, Hendler T, Shamay-Tsoory SG. The envious brain: the neural basis of social comparison. Hum Brain Mapp. Nov;31 (11):1741-50.
2. Grygolec J, Coricelli G, Rustichini A. Positive interaction of social comparison and personal responsibility for outcomes. Front Psychol.3:25.
3. Takahashi H, Kato M, Matsuura M, Mobbs D, Suhara T, Okubo Y. When your gain is my pain and your pain is my gain: neural correlates of envy and schadenfreude. Science. 2009 Feb 13;323(5916):937-9.