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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The ugly truth

When it comes to romance, beautiful people tend to gravitate towards others of their kind

Would you sign up for a dating site that announced proudly that it was meant for the “aesthetically challenged”? Which was called TheUglyBugBall.co.uk and abbreviated to the very appropriate-sounding acronym TUBB? And which declared proudly on its home page, “If you are one of the millions of people who don’t like what they see in the mirror, then this is the place for you!”

Well, when they put it as charmingly as that, who could possibly resist?

And certainly, there seem to be lot of people who have posted their pictures – some frankly ugly, some less so – on the site but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out if it was for real or just one big wind-up.

Take these sample quotes from the home page: “instead of fishing in a small pool of prettiness and getting nowhere, dive into an ocean of uglies and have more choice”; “a recent TUBB survey also proved that they (ugly people) try harder in bed”; or even “once with an ugly partner it is unlikely that anyone will try and take them from you meaning you can let yourself go completely once you are together”.

I mean, this has to be someone taking the mickey out of those with self-esteem issues? Surely, all these people who sign up looking for love, romance (or a particular favourite:`anything’) on this site cannot be serious?

But when you think about it, the site is only saying upfront what the rest of us don’t have the courage to acknowledge (except maybe in the privacy of our own hearts and minds). The truth is that pretty people like to date other pretty people. Good-looking folk tend to marry other good-looking folk. Beauty gravitates towards beauty.

Look around you. The odds are that you will find that the couples around you are well-matched in terms of attractiveness. The beautiful women tend to be paired with handsome men. The merely pretty have to make do with those who could be described as attractive. And those who aren’t at all physically appealing end up with other aesthetically challenged people.

Rare is the ugly man who gets a very beautiful woman – unless, of course, his bank balance is very, very attractive indeed. And on the whole, ugly women don’t score with handsome men no matter how rich these women may be.

By now, of course, most of you are probably fuming at the suggestion that all our romantic choices are based on something as frivolous as appearances. What about true love? What about the possibility of falling for someone because of who they are, not for how they look? Surely not all of us are as shallow as that?

Of course not. But scientific studies have shown that even small babies – who really should not know any better – are pre-disposed to respond favourably to pictures of people who are conventionally good-looking as opposed to those who are not. So, let’s accept that most of us are more responsive to pretty faces. Once you accept that, then it is just a question of finding your own level of prettiness/ugliness and operating within that comfort zone.

And however much we may protest, there is no denying that we are conditioned to seeing good-looking people paired with other equally good-looking folk. In fact, such is the incongruity of seeing pretty people paired with ugly ones (on the rare occasions that we do) that we cannot refrain from commenting on it.

“What does she see in him?” “Surely he can do better?” We’ve all said this kind of stuff (even if it’s only to our own horrible selves) at some point or the other when confronted with an incongruous pairing of beauty and ugliness. We are inclined to be suspicious of such pairings, which seem to go against the natural order of things. However we try and dress it up, this discomfort is a sure indication that we take the beauty-goes-for-beauty principle as a fact of life.

One reason why people were so suspicious of the Clinton marriage was because they couldn’t conceive how a man with so much natural charisma as Bill, who could have had any woman he wanted (and frequently did) could have chosen to marry the plain, bespectacled Hillary. Could it be love? Nah. No chance. It must some diabolical political imperative that kept them together.

I think the Prince Charles-Camilla love story arouses so much antipathy for the same reason. If Charles had left Diana for another fragrant English rose, the British public and media would probably not have reacted with such visceral rage. But what nobody could fathom was how he could leave the lovely People’s Princess for a frumpy, dumpy, middle-aged woman with no pretensions to beauty or glamour.

And so it goes. We marvel at the fact that the dashing Pierce Brosnan of James Bond fame is married to a woman who is double his size. We wonder why Kajol fell for the saturnine Ajay Devgan. We find Aamir Khan’s taste in women rather quirky because he doesn’t go for the usual model types.

Let’s face it. We are used to seeing beauty paired with beauty. To seeing pretty people getting off with other pretty people. To seeing couples at the same general level of attractiveness. Because, on the whole, this is how the world works.

Which is why maybe, just maybe, a dating site for the ‘uglies’ is not such a bad idea.


prashhanthkpp said...

Ah Ah Ah! Cannot help laughing at the wonderful narrative woven out of a concept not much thought of actually. Yeah, now, coming to think of it, there is a dearth for 'ugly' people dating mechanism. It has always been bold & the beautiful, to steal the title of a soap. The ugly are a unwelcome lot at say 'pretty' parties, elite gatherings, travelling, night-clubbing etc. As you pointed out, it must the inherent human instinct that controls this emotion. But then, what are the parameters defining 'beauty'. If one goes by the adage "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", then the notion of 'ugly' becomes obsolete ipso facto. However, there is beauty definitely and this class attract each other more than ugly vs beauty.

Therefore, a dating site for the unwelcome lot is most welcome and even perhaps a imminent necessity.

Brilliant and witty as always, Seema.

pooja said...

hmmm quite true...the ugly ones do not receive any importance or limelight for thier appearance but need not be disheartened coz i feel there are ppl who appreciate not just beauty but brains, personality, humour et all. Beauty definately lies in the eyes of the beholder". Beauty attracts only "intial " attention whereas the other attributes actually can win over a person's heart. As far as the site is concorned , yes its a good option for ppl who run low on self-confidence and loners....Seema love your articles...

Kapil Chandana said...

I slightly disagree. A woman can fall for an "ugly" man as long as he is confident, intelligent, humourous and has a powerful personality. The trouble is that ugliness tends to dent many a person's confidence. In reality its their self-conscious body-language, diffidence, lack of assertiveness etc. that repel women.