Beauty is Gene Deep but give me those little imperfections

Q. Why do pretty people get away with murder?

A. Preservation of the species.

Huh? How could those two ideas possibly be connected?

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s partially true, but the symmetrical face with a particular set of characteristics such as how wide apart the eyes are and what the distance is between facial features, is seen as universally beautiful.

As Shania said, that don’t impress me much. So you’re pretty. So what?

Might not impress you, Miss Twain, but there is a gestalt quality about beauty. The cute child will not be disciplined as harshly as an ugly one. The pretty girl will have more boyfriends. An attractive defendant in court will usually receive a lighter sentence than an ugly one — sometimes, perhaps getting away with murder.

Not fair. Yes well — life isn’t fair. Few of us are beautiful enough to merit such allowances.

But how does any of this connect to the preservation of our species?

Survival of the fittest.

What? You’re saying beauty is a survival factor? Are you nuts?

I have yet to see a healthy person who is not beautiful. Doesn’t matter what colour their hair is, their skin, their eyes — there are hundreds of kinds of beauty. What does matter is vigour, strength, vitality. Trivialities like height or size of breasts are a matter of personal choice. A healthy person isn’t overly fat, nor is he or she skinny. A healthy person has glossy hair, good teeth, clear skin, bright eyes, smells good.

But those are the very things that make each one of us unique. Freddie Mercury, bless him, saw his teeth as a problem, but actually they helped to define him. Certainly didn’t put anyone off him as a person – or as an artist. David Bowie had his teeth straightened, but he lost something of himself when he did that. Barbra Streisand’s nose, Mick Jagger’s lips, Prince Charles’ ears, Sarah Jessica Parker’s narrow face, Julia Roberts’ mouth, John Goodman’s large build — not conventionally acceptable, but those small imperfections give them their identities and draw us in more than mere surface attraction.

Little flaws are what make us attractive. Beauty on the outside does not equal beauty on the inside. Pretty people can be vain and self-centred. If you’re not a gorgeous babe or handsome hunk, you have to try harder to cultivate other qualities like kindness, creativity or the ability to make someone laugh.

Our genes may want to make merry with sturdy strands of DNA but our humanity says otherwise. And fat, thin, bald, or buck-toothed — we are much more than the sum of our parts.

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