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Have you ever noticed that when you’re making your way down the aisle on your way to your seat in coach, the passengers in first class seem to be more attractive than you are? (On a recent trip to Paris, I took the photo below of the guy sitting next to me, fairly typical of the people in coach.)
What’s the deal? What are all of these attractive people doing in first class? Perhaps it’s a vanity thing. Maybe attractive people like to watch, and be envied by, the plebes who wrestle with their bags on their way to the back of the plane.
Nah, that’s not it. After doing a bit of research, here’s what I found: Attractive people make more money than the rest of us, so they apparently spend some of their discretionary income to ride in first class.
A researcher for Smithsonian Magazine found that handsome men earn 13% more than unattractive ones. In fact, the income gap between attractive and unattractive people, according to Smithsonian, is comparable to the gap between genders or ethnicities.
Even a cursory search on Google reveals a plethora of studies that show that attractive people have a distinct and unfair advantage over unattractive people. They are happier, more self-confident, and have more friends.
They’re even smarter. According to a study done in the United Kingdom, attractive people have IQ’s, on average, that are 12.4 points higher than unattractive people. (That’s kinda weird, isn’t it?)
I’ve long thought that physical attractiveness is the most powerful advantage one can have. White privilege? That’s so last month. This month, if you’re going to remain au courant, you need to accuse handsome people of flaunting their pulchritude privilege. Tell them — now where have I heard this? — to check their privilege at the door.
So how does one decide who is attractive and who is not? The easiest way is to show photos of random people to a wide range of viewers. Let these viewers sort them out by asking them who is attractive.
Some aestheticians argue that attractive people project the appearance of health. That is, they have symmetrical features, clear skin, lucid eyes, and straight teeth.
Finally, according to the golden ratio (1.62), an ancient measurement of beauty, the ideal face is roughly 1 1/2 times longer than it is wide. And that ideal face also evidences equal distances from the forehead hairline to a spot between the eyes, from there to the bottom of the nose, and from there to the bottom of the chin. These golden ratios apparently cross-racial categories. (If you’re dissatisfied with this paragraph on the golden ratio, you have every right to be. I didn’t receive a math privilege like you uppity STEM majors out there who passed algebra in high school.)
Of course, there are other privileges that come with us when we are born. There is, for instance, the fast-twitch-muscle-fibers privilege (think Usain Bolt), the perfect-musical-pitch privilege (think Mozart), the body-spatial-awareness privilege (think Simone Biles), and so on.
I’ve always thought that the pleasant-face privilege would be very nice to have. This is the privilege of people who have a face that isn’t particularly handsome but has a pleasant and inviting appearance, i.e., has bright open eyes, perhaps a perky nose, and a mouth that curls slightly upward at its ends. People just naturally take a shine to those with the pleasant-face privilege.
In case you’re wondering, I was pretty much left out of everything except white privilege when they handed out privileges. I’m slow of foot, not particularly well-coordinated, one eyelid is lower than the other, and I have the flushed complexion of my Irish/Scottish forebears. (All of this when I was a younger man. Now I’m just old.)
I only possess one privilege for certain. I can sing Yankee Doodle Dandy while patting my belly and rubbing a circle on the top of my head. Do you scoff? Try it yourself.
Postscript: If you’re attractive, I’d rather not hear about it. But if you’re as ugly as sin, come sit right here next to me and tell me about it.Published in