Okay, stop me if you’ve heard this before: “She’s only famous ’cause she’s pretty.” “He’s only famous ’cause he’s hot and has a six-pack.” “Ah, it must be nice to be attractive and get everything you ever wanted.” So, here’s kind of a weird question. Is beauty a talent?
Should we regard someone who’s really attractive the same way we regard singers or artists? Or is physical beauty something entirely different altogether? Now, this might seem like a weird question, but just follow me for a second.
First of all, what is a talent? If you say someone is “talented”, what does that mean exactly? This might seem like kind of a dumb question, but just so we’re all on the same page, a talent is when someone is born somehow magically being able to do something really well. I mean, we’ve all heard stories of, like, Mozart being able to play the piano since he was like a zygote or whatever and with TV shows like American Idol and The Voice, we’ve all heard dozens of stories of people who, despite never taking a single voice lesson or having any kind of training whatsoever, they just so happened to be the best singer you’ve ever heard in your life. So when someone’s born with this kind of innate ability to do something really well, we applaud them. We say, “Wow, they’re so talented,” and we praise them and support them when they put their focus into their music or their art or whatever their particular talent happens to be. But when someone is born beautiful, or conventionally attractive, the reactions tend to be a little different. Of course, what the definition of beautiful or attractive or hot actually are, you know, that that seems to change all the time, but regardless, let’s assume that someone is born with the right face and/or body features for this particular moment in time. If they chose to capitalize on their beauty — they eat a very strict diet, they hit the gym every day, they run five miles every morning, they spend hours practicing faces and poses in front of the mirror and all that — I mean, it sounds pretty rough, right? I think it’s really easy to see a finished product and criticize it without having a proper understanding of what it took to actually make the product.
When you see this model, or whoever put their picture on Instagram, you only see the result, not the days or weeks of preparation, the hours of hair and makeup, the hundred other pictures they took but had to scrap because, you know, they just weren’t good enough. You only see the one picture, this one brief moment in time. “But Alex,” you might say, “they’re still just posing in front of a camera. That’s it. That’s not hard at all.” And I mean, yeah, you’re right, but by the same token, practicing the piano or practicing singing for several hours a day, while certainly exhausting, in and of itself is not really a difficult thing to do. But all the same, is beauty a talent? Let’s take sports for another example. Now, while all athletes have to work really hard and practice all day everyday, some are just born with these bodies that seem almost mathematically tuned to fit their sport. I mean, Shaquille O’Neal just so happened to be born looking like he lives on top of the beanstalk, and Michael Phelps has the upper body of a Stretch Armstrong toy that’s been played with one too many times. But no one ever says, “Of course he won the gold medal! He was born like that. Some people have to work ten times as hard.” Now, of course, I’m not saying that an Olympic sport is comparable to being pretty and putting a picture on Instagram, but the fundamental idea of how being born talented at a sport or art or music or whatever is “good”, but being born attractive and beautiful is “bad” or inherently without value, is something I’ve been thinking about recently.
Not that I’m particularly beautiful, but, you know, just in general. Maybe a more correct comparison would be voice acting. Some people are just born with great voices. Maybe there’s some raspiness to it or maybe there’s like a texture or a color that just makes you want to listen to everything they say. Voice acting, just like regular acting, takes a lot of work. It’s not easy to convey emotion and pull people in with just your voice, but like I said, some people are just born with great voices. But no one ever listens to a voice actor and dismisses them and says, “Well, they’re only famous because they were born with that voice.” When someone’s famous for having a unique voice, or being excessively tall, or being a good singer or good musician or whatever, they get praised and they show up on Ellen or whatever. But if someone gets famous because they’re seen as very attractive, they always seem to get a lot of backlash for being “untalented” or “just pretty, and that’s it.” But fundamentally, is it really so different? You could be attracted to someone because of how funny they are, how good they are at singing or playing guitar, or how good they are at magic or whatever, but if you take a liking to someone for these reasons, it’s seen as okay. But if you’re interested in someone just because you think they’re attractive, you get looked down on as being shallow.
But is it really so bad to appreciate the work someone does to get their hair just right, take care of their skin, the hours they spend doing their makeup or staying in shape through, you know, going to the gym several times a week or eating a strict diet, is it really so bad to acknowledge the fact that, with all the chaos we all have in our lives, that this person finds the time to maintain themselves? I don’t really know the answer to this question, but whenever I see people talk about celebrities or people here on YouTube or in the big-girl-big-boy world of entertainment, they always say something like, “Oh, she’s only famous because she’s pretty” or “he’s only famous because he’s hot and has a six-pack.” But I always think, is that really such a bad thing? в™Є в™Є