I was afraid my daughter would be ugly.

a confession

When I was pregnant with my daughter, the hormones were raging and my thoughts were spinning wildly. Anything that could go wrong, I was convinced, would go wrong. There can be many fears and anxieties when a woman is pregnant but there was one I was particularly embarrassed to admit: I was afraid my daughter would be ugly. I would like to believe I am not a shallow or vain person. I live in pajamas, have never spent more than $20 on shoes, dodge pictures, and take less time than my husband to get ready. You will hear me say, “Beauty fades” and “Beauty is only skin deep” and actually believe those things. I am certainly not model beautiful myself and it never bothered me so why was I suddenly so concerned about looks?

Like any parent, I want what is best for my children. I was hoping for anything that would make her experience of moving through the world less painful. Maybe you have heard about the parent who cried when their child came out as homosexual, not because they were angry or disappointed, but because they were sad about how difficult their child’s life would be in a society that treats those who are different so poorly. After all, life is hard enough already. There was a feeling I just could not shake: Being beautiful makes life easier (especially for women). I knew that I would love her and treat her well but I was already worried about how the world would view and treat her. “What if my child is ugly?” I wondered before growing embarrassed at the thought. Maybe this fear is more common than I imagined but the fear of judgement held me back from sharing my thoughts and feelings.

Dina Spector wrote an excellent article for Business Insider entitled, “8 Scientifically Proven Reasons Life Is Better If You’re Beautiful” and my beliefs were suddenly bolstered by actual scientific studies. Some of the reasons she lists are: beautiful people find mates easier, are often healthier, more intelligent, and have a competitive edge in sales, business, and politics. The pendulum can swing the other way, too. Women have to be beautiful but not too beautiful. You’ve heard “dumb blonde” and“all beauty, no brains.” Being too beautiful can be correlated with being a weak leader, lack of authority, or being unintelligent. Yet, from being offered more jobs, to being treated better by their parents, friends, teachers, waiters, and even jury (via Smithsonian), attractive people are set apart from their less attractive counterparts.

Still not convinced?

  1. Cute babies get more affection from adults, including their parents.
  2. Hiring managers are more likely to consider attractive job applicants.
  3. Beautiful people are viewed as more trustworthy, competent, and kind.
  4. Employees with above average looks get above average pay. (all these facts and more via: Vox)(additional information from Daily Mail) (and Priceonomics)
Lookism is a “thing.” The ugly fact: It pays to be beautiful.

When my daughter was born, she was, like everyone says about their child, the most beautiful baby in the world. She is a strong, smart, thoughtful human being and I am confident in her ability to face the challenges ahead of her. With another child on the way, I no longer feel anxiety when I wonder how my children will look in the future. Maybe it was the hormones. Maybe it was first time parenting anxiety. Or maybe I was just being shallow. Still, in the back of my mind, I do realize that how others view you effects how others treat you. I hope my children overcome the challenges ahead of them, whether they are obstacles set up by others, their environment, society, or even themselves. Being attractive can be a big advantage in a culture obsessed with looks. It is 2016 and how you look still matters, even if it shouldn’t. At the end of the day, my desire was for what I felt would be best for my child. But sometimes what is easiest is not what is best.