Don’t hate me because I am beautiful

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? Very often, physical attractiveness is associated with advantages. But how much is it true?

Early in my career, I came to know a friend. She is by all accounts gorgeous, clever and capable. She has had several jobs in the past and is currently struggling at one. The reason is simple yet idiotic: Female colleagues envy her while male colleagues lust after her. Then, I realised that being beautiful comes with its own set of issues. She had become the target of jealousy among her colleagues.

Some sincere colleagues told her that a woman like her is in “danger” because she is too beautiful, and many speculate that she has had scandals with bosses to get to where she is now. In the past, I have also met some young female professionals who grumble that male colleagues, particularly the older ones, don’t always take them seriously.

In order to earn respect, many young female professionals tend to tone down their physical attractiveness by dressing more plainly and using less make-up with the intention of looking more “matured” and of course, well, older.

We have several young female politicians such as Nurul Izzah, Teo Nie Ching and Hannah Yeoh – the list goes on. With the introduction of Dyana Sofya in Teluk Intan, the roles of young female politicians are gaining more attention.

However, very often these politicians tend to tone down their gifted beauty by dressing much older than their real age. They have, unfortunately, become the victims of discrimination simply due to their physical appearance.

A career as a politician is considered a male-dominant job. Take current sensation Dyana for example – why are people making so much “noise” about how she looks? We should focus on her capability to serve the people in Teluk Intan rather than her looks.

Being a beautiful politician is highly detrimental not only here in Malaysia but also in some countries such as Iran. Nina Siakhali Moradi ran a campaign fighting for human rights under the slogan “Young ideas for a young future”. She eventually won a city council election but was later disqualified simply because her colleagues did not want a “cat walk” model in office.

So, is it a curse being beautiful and intelligent at the same time? While beauty may very well be in the eye of the beholder, you wouldn’t know that sometimes they are also beholding against you.

For instance, “dumb blonde” is a term that implies that women with blonde hair are less intelligent. “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” This was a famous line from Pantene shampoo advertisements back in the 1980s. This campaign becomes one of the most popular and striking taglines in hair care advertising history.

Several psychological and sociology researchers too have suggested that being beautiful isn’t all good as commonly perceived.

For instance, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver Business School says that attractive women face discrimination when it comes to landing jobs that are considered “masculine”, such as in the engineering field. People tended to categorise attractive women into positions like receptionist, salesgirl or secretary. In our society, most people are more likely to assume that the success of beautiful people is down to their beauty, not their talent.

So the next time when you catch yourself rolling your eyes at a gorgeous politician or a high ranking female professional, please stop. Because it is absolutely possible that she is stunning and intelligent as well.

This article appeared in The Malaysian Insider on 26 May 2014.

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