It pays to look like a million bucks
by Carolyn Brundage

It pays to be prettyI've always loved beauty.

I was instantly hooked when, as a girl, I stole my first glimpse at my other's night-out routine: red lips, red nails and perfectly styled black curls. I knew then that I too wanted to be glamorous.

Thankfully, glamour has changed over the decades, and women get to do a lot more than stand around looking pretty and polished.

Many of the strongest, smartest, most successful women I know take pride in how they look. I, for one, cannot resist the allure of a sparkling gloss, sweet-smelling bubble bath or sensuously scented candle. And none of these things diminishes my role as an author, mother and entrepreneur. I just smell better.

This got me thinking: If good looks have become a commodity, isn't there some value in a healthy dose of vanity?

Let's face it; the entire world isn't infatuated with actresses and pop starlets because of their intelligence or political activism. (Although the celebs sometimes forget this factoid.) We love Kate, Jennifer and Angie because they are gorgeous: preened, polished and, often, airbrushed to perfection.

So just how far can good looks get you?

In the 1980s, the Journal of Applied Social Psychology reported on a U.S. study that found that men deemed "handsome" received significantly less jail time than their genetically overlooked counterparts. In fact, the good-looking guys in question were twice as likely to avoid jail time all together.

Less prison time for the pretty? 'Fraid so.

Another study tested women's and men's math skills while clothed versus while wearing bathing suits. Men did equally well in math whether fully dressed or in their bathing suits. Women, on the other hand, earned lower math scores once they donned their itsy bitsy bikinis. It seems that being self-conscious about their bodiess hampered the female subjects' capabilities, at least temporarily.

(That doesn't surprise me a bit. Who can do math while worrying about her bum?)

It's not as if the women studied were dense. While clothed they performed on par with the men, but the moment they slipped into their swimsuits, they lost their confidence. They were so worried about looking stupid that they got stupid instead.

A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania/Yale determined that it takes approximately one hundredth of a second to evaluate the attractiveness of a human face.

So, if you think spending time on your looks is frivolous, bear in mind that first impressions are made in the blink of an eye.

And while true beauty is an inside job, neglecting the outside is downright criminal.

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