Pulchritude Privilege

 

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.

Pulchritude privilege!

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.

Pulchritude privilege!

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.

Pulchritude privilege!

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?)

Pulchritude, etc.

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.

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  1. Chris Oler Coolidge
    Chris Oler
    @ChrisO

    Don’t…

    • #1
  2. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    “Oh, he was just funny-lookin.’  More than most people, even.”

    • #2
  3. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    KentForrester: one eyelid is lower than the other,

    I have this problem :(

    And I’m trying to fix my teeth.

    But I make good looking babies. They all have straight teeth and non-drooping eyelids. At least I passed on good genes even if some of them failed to express in me :p

    • #3
  4. Matt Bartle Member
    Matt Bartle
    @MattBartle

    There’s a reason my profile pic is from a ways away.

    • #4
  5. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    KentForrester: A researcher for Smithsonian Magazine found that handsome men earn 13% more than unattractive ones.  

    What I’m hearing is that I must be overpaid.

    • #5
  6. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    We should genetically engineer humanity to become more equal.

    • #6
  7. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    LOL.  Great post.  Don’t sell yourself short, @kentforrester.  You must have something going for you, or you wouldn’t have been able to win the heart of the Bounteous Marie.

    • #7
  8. Lilly B Coolidge
    Lilly B
    @LillyB

    The government has solved the problem, hopefully only temporarily, of having to see your fellow plane passengers. A text from the airline reads:

    ”Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport and on board during their entire flight. Your gate agent can provide a mask if you need one.”

    • #8
  9. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    I’ve always thought “pulchritude” should win some kind of prize as the ugliest way to say “pretty.”

    • #9
  10. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Stina (View Comment):

    KentForrester: one eyelid is lower than the other,

    I have this problem :(

    And I’m trying to fix my teeth.

    But I make good looking babies. They all have straight teeth and non-drooping eyelids. At least I passed on good genes even if some of them failed to express in me :p

    When I want to see my money, I ask three of my four kids to smile. Son #2; also famous for his 45 minute labor, has beautiful straight teeth. The other three cost me a fortune. #worthit 

    • #10
  11. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive. It’s called appearance equity. For more detailed information, search: Critical Looks Theory. Here’s wishing the worst of luck to everyone…it’s only equitable.

    • #11
  12. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought “pulchritude” should win some kind of prize as the ugliest way to say “pretty.”

    Ah, but it alliterates with privilege.

    • #12
  13. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    cdor (View Comment):
    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive.

    Harrison Bergeron

    • #13
  14. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought “pulchritude” should win some kind of prize as the ugliest way to say “pretty.”

    Ah, but it alliterates with privilege.

    So does “pretty.” ;)

    But I agree that “pulchritude” sounds much better.

    • #14
  15. KevinKrisher Coolidge
    KevinKrisher
    @KevinKrisher

    The best privilege of first class air travel is the service.

    Passengers in first class may get multi-course gourmet meals. Those of us back in coach just go hungry until they turn off the “No Cooking” sign.

    • #15
  16. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    cdor (View Comment):

    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive. It’s called appearance equity. For more detailed information, search: Critical Looks Theory. Here’s wishing the worst of luck to everyone…it’s only equitable.

    kurt vonnegut: harrison bergeron   (None of the links will copy over)

    The short 2081 (based on above book) was pretty good

    Edited to add: Sorry Henry. Didn’t see your comment before I commented

    • #16
  17. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    She (View Comment):

    LOL. Great post. Don’t sell yourself short, @ kentforrester. You must have something going for you, or you wouldn’t have been able to win the heart of the Bounteous Marie.

    She@, I told Marie what you said.  She replied that she agreed to be married to me out of pity.  

    • #17
  18. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive.

    Harrison Bergeron

    Henry, good idea. 

    • #18
  19. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Reward miles are a great leveler.  With the right amount of points, every schlub in the world, myself included, can fly first class.  I have an AC/DC band shirt specifically devoted to first-class travel so I can impress everyone with my sense of style.

    • #19
  20. Chris Oler Coolidge
    Chris Oler
    @ChrisO

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive.

    Harrison Bergeron

    Speaking of sounds of words, I always thought Diana Moon Glampers was the perfect name for a Handicapper General.

    • #20
  21. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Reward miles are a great leveler. With the right amount of points, every schlub in the world, myself included, can fly first class. I have an AC/DC band shirt specifically devoted to first-class travel so I can impress everyone with my sense of style.

    Hoyacon, I’m too cheap to fly first class and I don’t fly enough to accumulate enough points. 

    But about ten years ago, Marie and I were bumped up to first class.  Man, did we feel like swells. The stewardesses treated us like kings.   Ever since then, I have envied the first class passengers as I walk by on my way to coach. 

     

    • #21
  22. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive.

    Harrison Bergeron

    Annefy (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):

    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive. It’s called appearance equity. For more detailed information, search: Critical Looks Theory. Here’s wishing the worst of luck to everyone…it’s only equitable.

    kurt vonnegut: harrison bergeron (None of the links will copy over)

    The short 2081 (based on above book) was pretty good

    Edited to add: Sorry Henry. Didn’t see your comment before I commented

    Does this mean that my mind has sunk, equitably, all the way down to the level of Vonnegut? Or is it discriminatory even to use the terms “up” and “down”?

    • #22
  23. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought “pulchritude” should win some kind of prize as the ugliest way to say “pretty.”

    The Forester Prize should work beautifully for that. 

    • #23
  24. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    cdor (View Comment):

    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive. It’s called appearance equity. For more detailed information, search: Critical Looks Theory. Here’s wishing the worst of luck to everyone…it’s only equitable.

    “Lookism” used to be a thing. 

    • #24
  25. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought “pulchritude” should win some kind of prize as the ugliest way to say “pretty.”

    Ah, but it alliterates with privilege.

    So does “pretty.” ;)

    But I agree that “pulchritude” sounds much better.

    Henry, “pretty” can only be applied to females (though I’m probably being old fashioned when I say that).    “Pulchritude” is analogous to “attractive” and can reasonably be applied to both sexes.

    I must admit, though, that when I began my essay, I thought “pulchritude” was largely a word applied to females.  But when I looked it up, it seems to be applied to both sexes. However, I’ve never seen it applied to a male. 

    But as I said, it alliterates — and it’s the kind of fancy word I like to use occasionally in the service of mild humor. 

    • #25
  26. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Reward miles are a great leveler. With the right amount of points, every schlub in the world, myself included, can fly first class. I have an AC/DC band shirt specifically devoted to first-class travel so I can impress everyone with my sense of style.

    Hoyacon, I’m too cheap to fly first class and I don’t fly enough to accumulate enough points.

    But about ten years ago, Marie and I were bumped up to first class. Man, did we feel like swells. The stewardesses treated us like kings. Ever since then, I have envied the first class passengers as I walk by on my way to coach.

     

    In the early 1990s I was traveling alone when some attendant who looked like he might have had a bit part as a hitman in The Godfather pointed to me and asked, “Are you traveling alone?” I answered, “Yes. Am I breaking some new rule?” He just said, “Want to move up to First Class?” Odd question, I thought, so I hesitated a moment before answering, and the guy in the middle seat interrupted and said, “If he doesn’t want to, I’ll go.” His female traveling companion said, “What about me?” She wasn’t at all happy when he pointed to me and said that I could keep her company. In the interest of domestic tranquility, I made the sacrifice. Last time I flew, I went first class. It was not all that different from coach on the better airlines in 1985. 

    • #26
  27. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Coach seats are probably more comfortable than the ones on a C-17.

     

    https://youtu.be/R-2puqqmycM?t=13

    • #27
  28. Michael Brehm Coolidge
    Michael Brehm
    @MichaelBrehm

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive.

    Harrison Bergeron

    • #28
  29. Graham Witt Coolidge
    Graham Witt
    @hoowitts

    DaveSchmidt (View Comment):

    Coach seats are probably more comfortable than the ones on a C-17.

     

    https://youtu.be/R-2puqqmycM?t=13

    Tru dat

    • #29
  30. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    cdor (View Comment):

    All attractive people need to be surgically altered to make them way less attractive. It’s called appearance equity. For more detailed information, search: Critical Looks Theory. Here’s wishing the worst of luck to everyone…it’s only equitable.

    I kinda like this as a suggestion to make to people advocating “equity.” Or at least require movies and television shows to hire more ugly actors for leading roles. We could set up an appearance scale alongside our race category so we can divide people on both race and appearance, and require companies to hire a predetermined number of ugly people.  

    • #30