Beauty Or Brains?

Beauty-The-Brain1By Nidhi Nagpal

“Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder “- this statement sounds bizarre in the 21st century. Even when I was young, I was gifted with an exceptionally high IQ, great athletic ability, the desire for adventure and was hooked on to writing. However, what was the most consistent trait that other people talked about?

“Oh, you’re so pretty!”

”You should wear makeup. You’d make all the boys drool!”

I guess, like me, majority of the girls would have been suffocated in a similar environment since childhood. Apparently, when girls are complimented for their good looks more than their exceptional intelligence, they see themselves fighting this stereotype on a daily basis. Naturally, this ingrained mind-set would have cost them a bit of ground in terms of grades and opportunities because these “female rituals” take a heavy toll on their time. Fortunately or unfortunately, we have been raised in a culture that looks at our bodies before it even listens to what we are saying (if it listens at all).

After spending half of our lives in getting accustomed to such a hypocrite culture, a realization subconsciously befalls us that ‘natural looks’ may eventually help us achieve whatever we wish to accomplish. Although we can get anywhere we want with hard work, but we always need a backup plan. So why not use looks? It’s something we naturally have, and we can just spruce it up with a little bit of lip gloss and face powder. There is no denying fact that success and beauty are positively correlated.

Sarah PalinA perfect example that suits the bill is Sarah Palin. Many people, including Republicans agree that Sarah Palin is not the ideal choice for a political candidate, yet she keeps getting so much attention. She was a Fox News contributor, and now she even has her own show. Had Sarah Palin not been attractive, would she have all these opportunities? She is indeed a specimen of lack of brains, yet goes places because her beauty makes up for it.

It is not good that we live in a society that values beauty over brains, but we do. It’s hard to tell young girls that society isn’t like that when they grow up seeing people like Kim Kardashian on everything even though she doesn’t do anything for a living. She has all this because she dates famous men and makes sex tapes with them. She now has a song that she recorded written by The Dream (of Umbrella and Single Ladies fame). She looks good, so she has a career.  Thus, beauty is an asset which can work like a magic wand for any woman.

But, as they say, the more beautiful the serpent, the more fatal it’s sting. For instance, Zadie Smith, writer of White Teeth calls her beauty a ‘curse’- courtesy the media and critics repeated attempts to label her nothing more than a dumb blonde. Her much admired good looks come between her and her critics who are unwilling to take her seriously or give her due credit as a writer. She considers the assumption that beautiful women are not intelligent as a ‘sinister’. An Italian paper wrote that Zadie is, maybe a “good” writer, she couldn’t possibly be “great”. Obviously, it was again her beauty getting in the way.zadie_575

Jhumpa Lahiri, is regarded as one of the most read contemporary authors throughout the world. She is currently on top of the best seller lists in India. Her pictures are everywhere and she looks spectacular. But nobody thinks less of her as a writer because she is good looking. Her personality enhances the appeal of her books and is an essential part of her positioning as an established author. This is how it goes these days. It can be tiresome to deal with a level of scrutiny that refuses to extend beyond the female celebrities- age, hair, cheekbones and clothes. But that is the sort of stereotyping women have been subjected to since time immemorial. Women have to be sensible about this ‘objectification’, provided it does not turn nasty. Instead of worrying about not being taken seriously by critics and considering beauty as a sin, Zadie should continue writing with gusto and passion. After all, success is the best revenge. Moreover, good looks is a God-given gift that must be cherished by those fortunate enough to have them in abundance-like Zadie and Jhumpa.

Women use your brains to the fullest, but keep your back up plan intact. You never know when you might need it. After all, it is rightly said, “A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman, but a beautiful woman with brain is an absolutely lethal combination.”

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