Physical Appearance VS Personality

October 3, 2009

Link: http://www.onlinedatingmagazine.com/columns/datinginsideout/2007/03-physicalappearance.html

The article shows how important physical appearance is and people who are generally better looking will tend to have more advantages. The article also discusses about the societal prejudices and conformity to societal norms.

Nowadays, we have unknowingly placed much emphasis on our looks. The increased emphasis on having good looks can be due to mass media, peer influence and even societal conformity. Many tend to overlook that character is vital in establishing relationships and are pursuing beauty blindly. I think that while good looks can have positive impact on relational formation, it cannot be the sole factor that determines a person’s societal status.

Firstly, I agree that looks can exert a positive impact on relational formation as it allows one to have the confidence to communicate and hence, establish relationships with others. Physical appearance can have the biggest impact in the early stage of a relationship as both parties based their judgment on looks. It also determines whether a relationship can be formed. Someone who is better looking will be able to form a relationship faster than their counterparts as the first impression they give is stronger. According to the article, there is a correlation between self esteem and personality. This means that good looks can possibly lead to one’s increase in self esteem and in turn affect personality. Thus, the impact of looks is far reaching than it seems.

Good physical attributes can allow one to be socially accepted and provide one with more opportunities to interact with others. The reason for the increasing number of people going for plastic surgery has shown that people view good physical attributes as a prerequisite to be socially accepted. People tend to conform to the societal standard of beauty in order not to be discriminated and isolated. It is evident that people who are considered ugly will be discriminated upon; as, children start to pick whom they will like as playmates according to facial attractiveness. They have the tendency to form relationship with someone similar to them. Children who are less attractive would naturally have little or no playmates. This phenomenon is apparent in children and this goes to show that conformity to society is unanimous.

Despite acknowledging the fact that looks can have great impact on one socially, I think that personality is equally important. While looks can determine whether a relationship can be formed at the early stage, personality ultimately decides if the relationship can be maintained in the long run. In addition, even if one manages to become more beautiful, the personality remains the same. Personality is something that is rather permanent and cannot be changed overnight. The obsession in pursuing beauty to conform to societal standard of beauty can cause people to neglect their personality and even lose their identity. For example, many people go for plastic surgery to look like their favourite celebrity. At the end of the day, they are just one of the celebrity look-alikes and exhibit no individualism.

In conclusion, I think that both looks and personality are equally important and people should try to achieve a balance between them. While there are certain standards for us to conform to, we have the power to decide if it is reasonable and if there is a need to do so.



  1. I agree that the society today place great emphasis on physical appearance. These can be seen from the slimming advertisments, whitening skin products… etc. It is not hard to see how the society views beauty. If the perception is such that women must be slim, fair skin, long hair, big eyes in order to be considered pretty, many will either go for slimming programmes or plastic surgery in order to achieve such a look. That is what it takes to be ‘accepted’ into the society.

    As you mentioned, many pursue this perceived beauty blindly, making others like me stop to think, how superficial can the society get. Just look at the people around you, the way they dress. This is a result of the perception of beauty in the society. People dress as if they are going out to party everyday. I think there is a difference between party dressing and a smart casual everyday wear.

    Regarding what you mentioned about good looks giving one the self confidence to excel in first impresssion? Well, it is true, but what if one is pretty but does not believe herself to be so. There are people who do not see the beauty in themselves. They look towards the ideal beauty that the society has set. The ideal is almost unattainable, models photo are subjected to photoshop programmes, so how true are they in portraying the ideal look. Ideal does not exist. It is based on perception. In other words, the person may be good looking but feels she is not good enough and hence, like the others, lack self esteem.

    Thus, i personally believe self confidence comes from within, not by looks. It is true that when you get praise for your good looks, you have an increase in self confidence hence the correlation. However, i believe the final decision is dependent on the individual. Regardless of the environment, if you believe you are not beautiful, you will still lack self confidence.

    Also, the point on plastic surgery, yes, many has undergone plastic surgery to be accepted in the society. Yet,many in the society oppose to plastic surgery. People prefer ‘natural beauty’. Hence when found out, these people might form an impression even worst than less good looking people.

    Truth is, society is hard to please in terms of physical beauty so i think people should just forgot about the race for beauty and just be themselves.

    • Your point about self confidence coming from within is rather valid as it is a long term solution to regaining one’s self esteem. However, in reality, how many people can really do so? With the influence of the mass media, we are subconsciously reminded of the ideal standard of beauty and this causes some people who are truely confident about themselves to be wavered. To cultivate self confidence from within is not as easy as it seems.

      I do know that there are people who oppose to plastic surgery and to the extent of condenming those who underwent surgeries. However, i am begining to wonder if people who underwent plastic surgeries are becoming accepted socially.


      The link above shows that people who are not natural beauties are entitled to take part in pagents. Thus, does this imply that we are embracing those who underwent plastic surgeries socially and on the verge of considering them having equal social status as our Miss Universe? This topic is highly controversial and I think that everyone have their set of opinion which they subscribe to.

  2. Well, i think that it may be human nature to be attracted to the physically attractive? However, I do want to highlight that physical appearance is not the greatest factor in interpersonal relationship. Rather, character is.

    Thus we must also be careful not to shun those less attractive (or even ugly) people. After all, they can be very sociable and nice individuals. Sadly, this is something that society has not collectively learned, and we see instead, the ugly, superficial downplaying of unattractive people. This should be corrected.

    • I think that there is a need to correct this mindset but the task might not be easy. This is because our society is highly influenced by the mass media which portray how good looking people should look like. Hence, people tend to subscribe to the prototype and form their own perceptions and associations. For example, we have the mentality that good looking people should possess all the positive attributes. So, when someone does not fit this mental framework, we will associate all the negative traits to them, ignoring their personility. Thus, correcting this problem might not be easy.

  3. In today’s modern society, physical appearance has definitely been given more importance. It is human nature to place one’s attention on looks first but I feel that besides appearance, we must also look at other aspects. I’m not saying that we should ignore physical appearance totally, but instead, to place lesser emphasis on it. What that is deep within a person is more important in the long run. Physical appearance cannot bring one far. Without a good personality, it is impossible to get through in life in the long term basis.

    • Yes, i agree with you that people are placing more and more emphasis on physical appearances and that it is gradually becoming an obession with good looks. While i think that good looks can aid in creating first impression, personality is the one that will eventually bring a person towards the path of success. Thus, I think that it is important to achieve a balance between both and that people should spend more time in cultivating a good personality rather than having the unrealistic goal of achieving perfect looks.

  4. I agree with your point that both looks and personality are equally important and it is essential for people to achieve a balance between them. However, we cannot deny the fact that physical appearance may help to bring in more and better opportunities, especially in the society today. This can be seen in the case for employment. The employability of each individual is dependent, to a certain extent, on first impression and this is why people tend to dress up in the most presentable manner as possible. Besides academic qualifications, physical appearance is vital to open up doors to various job opportunities before one can really prove his/her capability through performance at work. Hence, it is indeed a controversial issue.

    • I believe that in the case of employment, it is justifiable to dress up appropriately as it shows how much the person value the job and his/her personality. However, the opportunities which pjysical appearances can bring about is only limited to a small extent as the determining factor is still one’s capabilities. This can be seen in Singapore where meritocracy is practised widely and that other factors like physical appearances, wealth are disregarded. i think that a good personality can overrule physical appearance and is ultimately vital in determining one’s success.

  5. I believe that physical appearance is very important in this society, but I do not mean that the physical attractiveness of a person is very important. I feel that physical appearance also do take note of the way one brings oneself like how we carry ourself, the way we dress, whether we look presentable and also out non verbal cue of the way we stand or even sit. If you were to say that personality is far more important than physical appearance, this is wrong. Because the way we bring ourselves also reveals our personality. Like if we were to be dressed sloppily, it clearly show our lack of care of our appearance which could also mean our lack of care for detail. However sometimes these physical appearance may be misleading. For example, if one appears to be overly confident, it may be mislead to be arrogance and pompous. Hence I feel that physical appearance is very important in constructing first impressions, which if is perceived wrongly, would take a long time to change.

    • i do acknowledge that physical appearances are important in constructing first impression and that it has a long lasting effect on others. However, during interaction, personality will take a greater role as it will ultimately determine your relationship with the other party. Suppose a person is dressed up to the nines but he is dishonest, calculative and unfriendly, would anyone want to befriend him? In addition, i think that in normal social occassions like meeting up with friends, people should not be judged based on their dressing.

  6. Personally, I feel that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Although physical apperance may be important, but like what you mentioned, personality is also as important. However, in today’s society, much emphasis had been placed on physical appearance and thus, forming this perception in our minds. For instance during a job interview, if there is this very good-looking person and a plain-looking person who wanted the job, I think that the good-looking person would eventually get the job. This is how our society has become – judging people just by their appearance.

    • I think our society is indeed getting more superficial as people are placing increased emphasis on looks rather than personality. Personally, I think that we should achieve a balance between both which means to take note of our own appearances but not becoming obessive and judge others based on their character rather than looks. The failure to achieve this equilibrium will result in many social problems like obession with beauty, shunning those without good looks.

  7. Hi Shi Qi!!

    I do agree, unfortunately, that in our society, people place heavy emphasis on looks. And all to often, it is physical appearance that helps in relationship formation.

    However, i do not think that looks and personality have equal significance. I think that personality is ultimately more important. Physical appearances will fade with time, and if they are of equal importance to personality and character, than all the married old folks are in trouble.

    Please comment on my blog too! 😀

    • It is indeed very sad that people are getting more and more concerned about their looks and even to the extent of being obesessed with it.

      Personality, undeniably should be more important than looks. However, i think that in reality, it is very difficult for one to truely realise that. While there are a lot of married old folks, there are also housewives trying to beautify themselves in order to salvage their marraiges. Thus, I guess that the main problem is to decide whether looks or personality takes a more important role.

  8. Hi Shiqi,

    I totally agree with Rachel that in today’s society, people still place heavy emphasis on looks. One example we can see is during interview. Even though a lot of time is spent for the interviewer to get to know more about the personality of the interviewee, they are still unable to know them completely. Hence, it’s always the first impression that counts and they made their decisions based on the first impression.

    • Hi!

      I think that in the case it is probably due to the time factor? During an interview, the interviewer has limited time to judge the interviewee and hence, they have to infer from his appearance the personality. However, if the person employed is unable to prove his worth in the company, he will ultimately be dismissed. Thus, it might not be always the case that people are judeged based on their appearance. 🙂

  9. Looks are important and like you said only the initial stages of the relationship. It is the factor that makes one person want to get to know the other party, which I feel has nothing wrong, unless the person brings it onto another level and judges a person by their looks. Then personality plays a crucial role, through conflict management and self-disclosure, the other person will be able to discern for him or herself if their personality could click and looks will be considered secondary!

    • hi!

      yes. i agree that looks is only important at the initial stage of the relationship and it is quite normal for people to be attracted to someone who is more attractive. But, I think that personality ultimately is more important and people should not focus on it too much to the extent that they judge people solely based on looks. 🙂

  10. I think both are important, but personality matters a lot more, because beautiful people will not be attractive anymore when they get old.

  11. i think that plastic surgeries are becoming a routine procedure for very rich people “”

  12. Hey! I really need some responses for a survey I created in my class that pertains to this subject. If anyone can fill it out that would be amazing! Thanks!

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