Beautiful does not equal good

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Beautiful does not equal good

What is beautiful is good, and who is good will soon be beautiful. This is not my claim. In 7 B.C., the Greek poet Sappho said this. I researched what she actually looked like, and Gustav Klimt depicted her as a beauty with a sharp nose and bright eyes.

What Sappho said in 7 B.C. is still valid in 21st-century Korea. Before you make the politically correct argument that appearance is not important, please look around you. The Lunar New Year holiday is around the corner, and many plastic surgery clinics have signs saying “Closed on Lunar New Year’s Day Only.”

The long weekend is a busy season for them. Men and women seek beauty through plastic surgery, and lately, the number of older people wishing to look younger is growing. The obsession with beauty affects everyone regardless of time and age. External beauty is an ability.

In fact, there is evidence that appearance affects abilities. Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas in Austin, argues in “Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful” that bad-looking people make $230,000 less than good-looking people in their lifetime.

Above-average looks mean 5 percent premium in wages over those with average looks. His argument is a class system based on physical appearance.

Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls that have long been criticized for projecting an unhealthy body image, recently introduced new models. The new lineup of dolls better resemble real body types than the skinny original dolls. Mattel describes one of the new models as “curvy.”

While Mattel claims that body types don’t matter, the explanation does not sound sincere because they are using a diplomatic euphemism. In reality, people are more offended that being plump, or fat, is described in a roundabout way.

So I have an absurd idea of creating a “beauty assessment.” In addition to a person’s natural beauty, efforts made to improve appearance and the rate of success should be considered. Of course, it would be horrible to have such an assessment. I am simply offended that a plus-sized person should be described as “curvy,” as if being fat is a problem.

In the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, please don’t fear gaining weight, and enjoy the festivities with friends and family. Ulrich Renz, author of “The Science of Beauty,” said that you can be beautiful when you are free from beauty.

The author is a political and international news writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 5, Page 31

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