Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Beauty, Brains and Expectations


Currently I'm doing loads of work in Bahasa Melayu... so it might be English for a while in my blogs. Must keep both sharpened, see.

There is a particularly interesting drama series that I watched over some streaming sites, and one of the main protagonists is simply great-looking. To my eyes, at least. His hair, eyes, chin, posture, attire, and way of interpreting his role, which was of the cold-genius type that I simply adore. (Yeah, given the right circumstances, cold people are waaay cool. Maybe it's narcissism, liking the traits that one perceives to be in one's self, 'coz I'm don't think I'm very warm either in person, although not much of a genius, at least now, and in the field that I'm obliged to pursue.)

Apparently I was only another person within a million who thinks so, because in the comments given by the viewers show that they're absolutely gushing for the young actor. They were praising his - everything - voice, looks, acting, anything visible or audible he presented. And I started to have my doubts about his actual worth as an actor. Is it just because of his handsome pretty-boy looks that people are absolutely gaga over him? Is it just because of his style and the mysterious, popular character that he's carrying, that people praised his acting to high heavens?

I'm far from being a drama instructor or a movie critic, but I have dipped my fingers in acting and directing - albeit limited to small scopes and unambitious projects, so to speak - since I'm nine years old. So I tried to gather all the bits of knowledge and experience scattered all over my memory, and attempted to assess the actor's performance, all the while having this bias that "It's just because he's handsome and beautiful, and he gets to play the role that viewers love to love, chances are he's not that good an actor really."

Anyway, I ended up reluctantly agreeing to the mass. For a young actor with not very much experience yet in the glass and silver screen, with more time spent in dancing and singing with his talent agency, the way he carried the role is excellent. His facial expressions - especially his eyes - are commendable. And he's only 14 years old. I might put it to loads of training and a demanding, hardworking, skilled director, but I have to accept that this kid CAN act. His graces do play a role in charming viewers and helping him get more in character, but it does not account for all the acknowledgements he received.

My point?

People's expectations depend a lot on circumstantial situations. I wonder if looks play an important role in that, especially in terms of intelligence and skills estimations. Do people usually have elevated impressions towards a more beautiful individual, or is it the other way round? As in my case, having prejudices towards a fairly talented actor, are persons with good looks - men, sometimes, women, usually - would really be subjected to negative assumptions regarding the amount of brain and skills that they have?

But then again, we are drilled with the necessity to 'dress for success'. I, for one, am quite a believer and practitioner (er, I don't think it's the right word, but well~) of that theory, when conditions require it. Good appearances make both ourselves and our counterparts feel more confident with what we're worth, although it does not actually play any direct role in improving one's performances in a majority of things. Having a proper hair-do or that impeccable pair of threepiece suit is important in interviews, but it does nothing physically to interfere in the communications and question-answerings. Likewise, a properly ironed and color-matched headscarf and blouse (not very frequent for me when attending classes, to be honest) are not really significant in helping me pay more attention in lectures, but I feel that my steps have extra springs in them when I go to campus looking - ehm, nice. And I think stray researches somewhere had claimed that people are more comfortable and attracted to people with attractive (duh, how obvious) and beautiful appearances.

It's all psychology, is it?

Do people gain real advantages from their looks - apart from seducing bosses to win that promotion? Come to think of it, people who are in high statures in life look nice - maybe not too attractive, but not eyesores either. Is it because of their stature that they manage to beautify themselves or is it because of their beauty that they manage to achieve that high stature?

Is it true that beautiful people have all the advantages?

Would you choose beauty over brain? Not in the case of 100% beauty + 0% brain or 100% brain + 0% beauty... but somewhere in between, somewhere closer to reality. Say, are you willing to be a few notches less intelligent or skillful than you are now if you can lose those extra pounds of fat, get rid of the acne scars and somehow have your flat nose turning into a Grecian one?

I'm not indulging in very-lengthy discourses this time (or so I think). I guess I'd invite my readers who regularly come or somehow stumbled into this blog while they were researching something like my own name, 'kucing belang', 'resepi ayam masak kicap', 'wanita dan kucing' or anything of that kind (yeah, they did, and it's half-flattering and half-creepy when it was the first item aforementioned, though of course there are plenty other 'adibah abdullah's out there!); to give their say on this.

Have your say in the comments section, I'll be delighted to read them. (If no one says anything, I'll pretend to not be embarrassed.)



Taufik said...

That sounds like a 'stright path' towards infatuation. geez...

I think everyone is attracted by (physical) beauty, those who deny it are being hypocrites. People go gaga over Christiano Ronaldo or Rafael Nadal (fine, if you're not one, whatever your niche is doesn't matter). The only question left is what do you do with your ‘brain mailfunctioness’?

So, some review of the principals of metaphorical love:-

The First Principle

In metaphorical love, the physical and external beauty of a man or woman is known as husn. It is husn that generates passion in youth. There is no greater influence in the material world than husn; it causes even highly intelligent people to act irrationally.

The Seventh Principle

The truth is that no face is as attractive as it seems from a distance. No voice is as enchanting as it seems from afar. Is then the reality of physical attraction based on distance? If so, it would seem that it is better to keep a distance.


I think it's no-brainer, usually those 'eye-candies' that you spot on the street, in your classroom, on the tv, etcetera seems to have the physical beauty appeal to you. But those 'beautiful' people who are your friends don't hold such admiration in your eyes because you know them more than skin deep. If they are beautiful 'inside' too, then that is another story: Your initial admiration for his/her beauty will turn into something more than that - I presume.

So I think beauty is not the only criterion for most intelligent enough people. Having said that, you see all those dramas about some Dato' dah tuee dah, but they still succumb to the heart that leaps (cari bini kedua yang cantik dan muda. kuang3). I can assure you that there are true stories like that out there… pretty scary... So you can’t take beauty out of the equation altogether – even for the intelligent ones.

I think the West has such a messed up society. With everyone flaundering their 'beauty' and dress to kill (espeically this summer. Really, 'killing' your spiritual well-being. hehe..), you can't put the physical beauty factor out of the equation, can you? They say you marry a trophy wife if you just look for her beauty. hihi.. Not to mention courtship is all about flirting and flaundering, it's about discharging your sexual energy.

So I think the society (the environment) plays a big role in deciding the ?% beauty ?% brain etcetera, not just on individual basis. Just imagine someone living in the Prophetic society or during the time of salafus soleh, what criteria will they choose (almost by default)? Compare it with the current West society; you will get a very different % distribution of those things. It depends on what is hip: celebrities or ‘ulama, flashy colorful and fashionable clothes or zuhud clothes, extravagant lifestyle or simple lifestyle, etc. It’s about social conditioning.

These are natural tendencies: Your ‘dreamy’ future husband/wife will naturally be someone pious if you are in a society that put stress on piety. If a society puts premium on the ‘dunya factors’ then your dreamy husband/wife will be someone who goes to party, who is handsome/beautiful, who plays the guitar, etc. Plus courtship is about dating, flirting, floundering, or something more traditional. The social conditioning effects are not something that you realize, they work rather subtly and you’ll be amazed yourself when you realize it has done its work on you. That’s the whole point of Hollywood etcetera.

So my contention is love of physical beauty is fitra but the % of beauty/brain/etc depends on the social construct.

Taufik said...

The only cure is Taqwa.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha..... this post is crazy. Of course people want both looks and brains. It's natural. But then again, being too gorgeous is not really good. I know quite a number of gorgeous people who just becoz of their looks, invite unwanted attention. Some even bitch around about it while for the others, it feels really uncomfortable. I absolutely don't like it. If I had a choice to modify my looks and brains, I'd go for 60 pc looks and 80pc brains. But choosing a partner would be another matter though. Oh yeah, I remember a couple of months ago Yahoo! posted a research article that women whose husbands are "one level" less good-looking than them are happier. I don't know what "one level less good looking" means but I guess it's kinda true.

-Lepas ni kene laa aku cari bini yg cun, hehe :p -

Zulhimi said...

Opps.. that last post was mine.

-Ahmad Zulhimi Ismail-

Anonymous said...

to taufik, i'm attracted to rooney..how does that sound? bad taste?


look is one thing. research told us that better-looking people are favoured, in job markets even. but when it comes to me - yes, beauty does play a part, but upon maturing, even the most handsome boy in my class did not seem attractive enough, given the way he conducts himself. after a few weeks he didn't seem handsome at all.

the key is self-confidence i think. the mechanism is like this :you dress up a little bit (that's one of the best bits about being a girl i have to say), put a light make up maybe and feel confident because you feel you are at best (according to your own standard hopefully)- that helps i think in making you feel beautiful. the 'dress for success' mantra is an 'internal' matter, it is how it affects you, not others.

I am not a gay of course, but some of my girl friends are attractive i have to say! it is the way they present themselves, with so much confidence that makes them beautiful.

p.s. on the dressing bit, i guess children upbringing affects as well. I rarely wear mismatch tudung and dresses partly because both my parents are particular about what we wear - e.g. a black tudung is a no-no, my father said i look so much older in black tudung. that makes me feel bad when i have to wear one. how's that?