TED Conversations

Casey Kitchel


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Lottery vs. "The Lottery"

In Cameron's TED talk, she roughly equates being beautiful to "winning a genetic lottery".

Most times when I listen to this talk and I hear the word "lottery", I think of the Powerball and winning it is something good.

However, there are other times when I listen to this talk and I hear the word "lottery", and I think of "The Lottery", the short story by Shirley Jackson.

Are beautiful people (those that win the genetic lottery) as fortunate as we perceive them to be?

and perhaps I should add:

Are "successful" (success within a profession) people as fortunate as we perceive them to be?

Note: we don't chose our own appearance, and also, we alone don't chose our own "success" (success within a profession).
Ex: A fashion model does not chose their appearance, and the fashion industry, not the fashion model, chooses who they, the fashion and "beauty" industry, view as "beautiful" or good "modeling material".

IMO, if everything really is"okay", then why is a woman who is intelligent and pretty, honestly admitting that she feels vulnerable, when she should arguably be one of the more confident and secure people in society?


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    May 13 2013: I was just looking at that wikipedia article because I saw the movie The Hunger Games and it reminded me of Jackson's story.

    I've had the privilege of knowing very well a women who had dramatic weight loss surgery, and became more classically beautiful according to our society. I think such people are in a rare position to truly see both sides of this issue from having lived both sides. Men pay more attention to her now, they will hold the door open for her now, and people generally treat her better.

    A curse of a beautiful (model) woman I know, is that she feels the attention she gets is hard to trust, that people do not see the real her, and that she comes to rely on the attention she gets as a measure of self worth. If the attention wanes on a bad day, that is why she would not feel confident and secure.

    You ask if beautiful or successful people are as fortunate as we perceive them to be.

    Here is a recent study showing beautiful people are happier than plainer looking people, essentially because they are able to earn more money: http://ftp.iza.org/dp5600.pdf. And you have another study showing that lottery winners are happier: http://worlddatabaseofhappiness.eur.nl/hap_bib/freetexts/tunney_rj_2006.pdf. I am sure you can find studies showing no difference too.
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        May 14 2013: I hear you about lottery winners wasting their money. The "lottery curse" strikes many a lottery winner. The problem there, I think, has to do with the sudden change in fortunes.

        I think winning the lottery is different from someone born beautiful, although you could argue going from the awkward teen phase to beautiful can happen pretty quickly.

        I find fascinating the study comparing the happiness of lottery winners and accident victims: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/690806. Much of our happiness, I think , is due to comparing our present situation to something else: other people, or our past selves

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