TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Does lacking physical beauty actually degrades ones confidence?

I ask this question because I certainly feel that we learn more when ideas are exchanged amongst people that requires socializing and having a certain level of confidence. I understand that there are several other aspects that can pump ones confidence be it wealth, inteliigence, knowledge or success but surely ones appearance also plays a major role. How does one get past that factor of beauty for which god was not knid enough and move on without giving it much weightage.

Share:
  • thumb
    Dec 20 2013: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So which version of beauty should it be ?
    Beside, there are countless beautiful people that are not successful as there are also countless not so beautiful people that are successful.
    As for self confidence, I would find it quite disturbing if it would be based solely on the physical appearance.
    As Fritzie said below, there are many more important attributes that should influence self confidence.
  • thumb
    Dec 22 2013: "How does one get past that factor of beauty for which god was not knid enough and move on without giving it much weightage."

    We grow up.
  • thumb
    Dec 20 2013: Perhaps you should watch some of your favorite TED talks and ask yourself whether it matters to you, or should matter to him/her, whether he/she is beautiful in the ways you mean. Kenneth Robinson? Bill Gates? Larry Lessig?

    Wouldn't you think your other attributes are far more important?
    • Dec 20 2013: I do realize the importance of other attributes Fritzie, infact I believe they hold more value than the physical beauty as I mentioned in the explanation of the question, what I really wanted to know to what extent it does matter or should matter, I say that because we can't just ignore the confidence being beautiful brings on to you. Hope I m clear now!
      • thumb
        Jan 16 2014: I think this assumption you are making that being beautiful makes a person confident is problematic. I know many people, men and women, whom I believe many would judge as physically beautiful, who harbor low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.
    • thumb
      Dec 20 2013: f are you trying to say none of those three men is beautiful? But it's clear they've put some effort into their look, all are nicely groomed, clean-shaven, well-dressed. If they were filthy bums, they probably wouldn't have risen to the level where they are giving a TED talk.
      • thumb
        Dec 20 2013: People are typically beautiful to those who love them, but I don't think this thread is on that subject, that has been discussed often here.

        My point is that for pretty much anyone, however he looks, he can find plenty of happy, loved, respected, and accomplished people who are no better looking than he is.
        • thumb
          Dec 21 2013: Fritzie it seems like you're affirming the saying "You can't judge a book by its cover." I sort of want to believe that saying is true, there is a certain beauty in that saying. Yet on the other hand I've noticed that when I look good I feel good, and when I look and feel good I do better, accomplish more and get better help from people whose help I need to accomplish. Does this mean I'm superficial, or that the people who respond to me better are superficial? On the other hand, there's some sensuality and skill in grooming yourself, so maybe looking good conveys a positive sensuality and skill?

          The three men you named look okay but all wear glasses and would look better without them. I'm thinking for most people wearing glasses mars their look?

          I was reading that most people consider Asians to be the most physically attractive race, and it's because they are the most childlike-looking. Thoughts?
      • thumb
        Dec 21 2013: I believe there is research to the effect that being pleasant looking and not over-weight provides an advantage in the workplace.

        I am the wrong person to ask about standards of beauty. I also expect standards of beauty to vary across cultures. For example, being thin is valued in some cultures more than others.
  • Jan 1 2014: I think attractiveness helps start the conversation but it is the thoughts and thinking behind the conversation that holds and completes the deal. What I mean is all flash with no substance is worthless.
    • Jan 17 2014: I completely agree to that wayne. Btw just thought of bruce wayne:)
  • thumb
    Dec 23 2013: I think this is left to each one to decide what to base their confidence on and to what extent he/she is affected.But our body image does shape a part of who we are and how we feel about ourselves,especially when we are young and check out the whole cosmetics and plastic surgery industry out there .

    And is beauty skin deep?I think there's evolution dimension to it,which,of course is another topic.:D

    Anyway whatever the effects it might have,there's always a choice and you can decide whether who you are is more or less than what your physical being expresses.
  • thumb
    Dec 23 2013: That's a weird question!

    I always knew that one's confidence conveys one's beauty!

    Feel poor...you look poor!
    Feel strong...you'll behave strong!
    Think free...be free!
  • thumb
    Dec 22 2013: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Have you read the story of the Ten Cow Wife? On a Island where the bride's father was offered two to three cows for the hand of the daughter ... a suitor offered ten cows for a plain, common, working girl ... she was raised in status by the offer. Because of the offer she was seen differently by others. She was no longer plain but the fairest in the land.

    On a personal note I see the beauty within as far more valuable. If I am the best in physics, math, science, Lit, etc ... it make no difference what I look like ... when I walk into that class I am King.

    I am reminded of the old saw that beauty is only skin deep ... but ugly is to the bone. So beauty without a personality is a real shame.
  • thumb
    Dec 24 2013: Satish,
    It has already been stated in this conversation thread.....beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What is the criteria one uses to judge a person's beauty, seems to be a question we can ask ourselves if we are temped to judge another person beautiful or not beautiful.

    Another question one might ask oneself Satish, is why one would say that "god was not kind enough" to a person one judges to be not so beautiful. What better way is there to try to "degrade ones confidence" than tell yourself, or other people that "god was not kind enough" to you? That suggests that one started out the life adventure already degraded by a god!

    That being said, how we look, how we maintain the body and how we carry and present ourselves seems to have an influence throughout the life adventure.
  • Dec 24 2013: Satish what is lacking physical beauty? It's quite astonishing that any human being can consider themselves as ugly or lacking physical beauty as you put it. Your confidence should never be dependent on your looks but rather on self awareness and assurance. What people tend to do is compare their looks with others and forget that we do not have to look the same. Remember the song I'm beautiful no matter what they say. That's exactly how one should feel like everyday of their lives. The opinion of others should not shape how you see and feel about yourself. Those who are of the opinion that they more beautiful than you what makes them think that way? And those that perceive themselves as being ugly who died and made them ugly?
  • thumb
    Dec 24 2013: I think physical beauty does mean something so that people spend a lot of money on physical beauty maintenance. And some people even have cosmetic operations to make themselves look more beautiful. But the problem is how much benefit they can get from their physical beauty and how long they can keep it without any consequences.They probably feel more confident when they find they suddenly have the power to attract people's attention and get more chances doing some jobs. But if they have to take medicine to fight against the postoperative side reaction and pain in their life, and people value more of their real ability of doing work later on, I doubt the physical beauty can bring them more confidence in the long-run.

    On the other side, the moment that a person realizes she hasn't much physical beauty at all, she may lose her confidence and get frustrated, but if she aims at strengthening her inner quality and express her personality charm appropriately, she will acheive her confidence in the long-run. But if she doesn't believe in the inner beauty and doesn't want to work hard to pay for the long-run confidence, she'll continue her lack of confidence.

    So in my view , one's decision can convert physical beauty and ugliness to the other side, if your personality isn't pleasant and you don't have much brain, you won't be real beautiful with confidence in the long-run.
  • Dec 24 2013: God has been kind to all for everyone is beautiful and holds some beauty whether it is shown on the outside alone, or on the inside. What takes away a person's confidence is their inability to see the beauty in others. If you can't appreciate what the world has given you - the people in your life, the morning sun, the birds, or even just the fact that you can breath then you cannot hope to see the beauty within yourself? and therefore no confidence in your actions, and beliefs.
    We also need to realize that if we are living in a society where we are constantly being put down for what people can only see, fail to understand or are afraid to understand or if we don't take the time to empathize with others we cannot hope to help those with self esteem feel empowered.
    To feel empowered you must find reasons to be empowered and see that same strength in others.
    - In other words if your hanging around people that make you feel crappy about yourself you can't expect to have confidence in anything you do.
  • thumb
    Dec 23 2013: Hi Satish,

    I think that beauty does not degrade ones confidence. However, beauty does degrade something, that is pride. I think that confidence comes from self control. My logic is that when we have confidence about someone else, it is usually because he is responsible and keep his promises. Thus, when we have confidence about ourselves, it also usually comes from self control: do what we should do instead of what we want to do. Therefore, confidence comes from how we view ourselves.Pride, on the other hand, is very different but also very similar to confidence. I think that it comes from how other people view us instead of how we view ourselves. Thus, all things like beauty, wealth, and intelligence can affect our pride because they will all have an effect on how other people view us.
  • thumb
    Dec 23 2013: Perhaps, it depends on personality. There are people who can be considered ugly by common standards who manage to take advantage of their appearance and feel quite confident about themselves.

    There is always a question, do people who lack beauty feel less confident in themselves or do people who lack confidence in themselves also feel unattractive?
  • thumb
    Dec 23 2013: Derek Zoolander: I'm pretty sure there's a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. And I plan on finding out what that is.
  • thumb
    Dec 22 2013: Unfortunately YES it does .... moreover it also has gender bias ..... That's the hard fact irrespective of culture
  • thumb
    Dec 22 2013: Part 1.01 of 1.01

    So, in conclusion, (I was never good at starting conclusions :)) I think appearances directly correlate to the amount of socialization you receive, and the amount of socialization you receive is directly proportional (didn't know another way to state those comparisons, so sorry for that pretentiousy jargon) to your self-confidence. Thus, I currently believe appearances are indirectly related (and proportional) to one's self-confidence.

    Thank so much for the question! It was fun thinking and writing this up! Please reply if you have any questions, criticisms, and in general feedback!

    (Sorry for the consecutive exclamation marks :))
  • thumb
    Dec 22 2013: Part of 1 of 1.01

    While some of the comments I've read (although I haven't read many) mainly argue that it shouldn't degrade one's confidence, they don't really address the "actually" in your question. Ideologically, I completely agree with them (Jezek's and Fritzie's comment). However, I think in actuality that appearances most definitely matter. Although Jezek correctly argues that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are some fairly widespread standards (for lack of a better term) for beauty.

    I'm in high school and it's not random that the "popular" girls seem beautiful to me (usually use the word "hot" (:)), but the idea is the same). This relates to your question because I think that that group of kids is mainly considered popular because people were more likely to talk to them when they were younger. (I won't delve into this much, but hopefully the evolution from having a lot of conversations with a lot of people to being considered "popular" isn't a hard one to deduce).*

    I think this 'socializing" aspect of your description is very important. For me, external feedback is important to my self-confidence. When no one addresses what I say (for whatever reason), it certainly degrades my self-confidence (usually a short-lived degradation). I'm even fairly introverted, but that doesn't mean I don't want my voice to be heard. Please reply to my comment if this doesn't apply to you, but I think most people have this same feeling when they are not particularly listened to when they want to be. I think this example shows that humans crave socialization on some level. (People didn't come on TED Conversation if they didn't want some sort of feedback and/or socialization (for me both).)

    *You made this point in your description already with your connection of self-confidence to social interaction (very good point by the way!)
  • thumb
    Dec 21 2013: Are the 'goalposts of beauty' constantly being moved? Would beauty of 100 years ago necessarily be beautiful now?

    If beauty is forever shifting, who or what is doing that shifting?

    Do we celebrate a certain type of beauty to suit current social and cultural norms?

    What does our modern idea of beauty say about the current age?

    If the modern idea of physical beauty has such a profound effect on self-confidence, success in business and social acceptance, does that mean that superficiality is more important than substance?
    • thumb
      Dec 21 2013: Do you actually think, Allan, that it does have a profound effect on adult self-confidence, success in business, or social acceptance? I really don't.
      • thumb
        Dec 21 2013: Well, I wish it didn't. Really I do. But research seems to point towards it being so:

        http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9516.html

        http://www.businessinsider.com/are-good-looking-people-more-successful-2011-11

        The following study (abstract only) suggests that candidates with facial disfigurement, or "facially stigmatized" people in interviews are more likely to be discriminated against by interviewers:

        http://psycnet.apa.org/index.cfm?fa=buy.optionToBuy&id=2011-23754-001

        This unfortunately reinforces the idea that the superficiality of how a person looks can have an undue effect on his/her trajectory of success - and possibly also self-confidence and social acceptance.

        What's your take on this, Fritzie?
        • thumb
          Dec 21 2013: There are a couple of issues one might consider with respect to these studies. One is that studies that compare looks to income and find a correlation may be skewed by areas of work that happen to take great account of beauty and involve high incomes, like A list actors/actresses and supermodels.

          Another is that comparing those with disfigurement against those who don't does not truly shed light on the question in general of whether better looking people are significantly advantaged. It could be that there is a big difference in whether a person is disfigured or not but no difference among those who are above a certain undemanding threshhold of appearance.
  • thumb
    Dec 21 2013: Yes it does for people who have little of it.
  • thumb
    Dec 20 2013: It did me.
  • thumb
    Dec 20 2013: Satish, do you think beauty is something one can set out to achieve, or is one born with it?

    I would tend to think that looking one's best would help with one's confidence. And it works the reverse, that when you are confident you want to look good because you feel you have something to share with the world and looking good helps you to share it. But I don't think we require beauty, I think we more appraise the effort someone has made and judge them on that.