Attractive vs. Intelligent

Be honest – would you rather be attractive or intelligent? Which do you think is more helpful in life? Who has it easier?

I would like to think intelligence will take you further – having good ideas and making smart choices. That would definitely be helpful in life.

But if you’re good-looking are you seen as more approachable or given more opportunities? If looks could open doors that would also be helpful.

I feel like I should say I would prefer to be intelligent but sometimes I think I would rather be attractive.

They say when you recover from an eating disorder the last things to go are your body image issues. That’s a painfully honest statement. I’m at a point in my recovery where I’m eating well and feel great physically but, yes, my struggles with body image are still nagging me.

I feel if I were attractive I would feel comfortable – maybe even confident – when I go out in public. But yesterday I went to the grocery store and I realized no one else looked like a supermodel either. Is that mean? Is that the wrong way to look at it?

My dietician asked an interesting question – do you dress for yourself or others?

But then again, there are many days when intelligence wins. I hope one day I’m known for my achievements – my artwork and writing. Being attractive won’t get you ahead in those fields.

What’s more important in my life – feeling confident in public or growing as an artist and writer?

Hands down, I want to be a better artist and writer.

So intelligence is my answer.

Attractive vs. intelligent – what’s your answer? Which is more beneficial?


  1. sonofrojblake says

    Be honest – would you rather be attractive or intelligent?

    Facetious answer: I’d rather be attractive than intelligent because the average person can see better than they can think.

    Digging down a bit: the question implies it’s an either/or choice – if I choose “attractive”, how attractive? Chris Hemsworth/Chadwick Boseman attractive? Eva Green/Scarlett Johannsen attractive? (Picking mine and my wife’s current celeb drool-targets). Or “just” e.g. Matt Berry/Karl Urban attractive (to pick my two main man-crushes)? Also, if I pick “attractive”, how dumb must I be to “make up for it”? Too dumb to have my current degree and career? To dumb to have ANY degree and professional qualification? Too dumb to drive? Flipside: if I pick “intelligent” – how intelligent? Feynmann intelligent? Do I get to pick a field? And if I pick intelligent, how plug-ugly have I got to be?

    If it’s “average” for one and “incredible” for the other – sorry, but yeah I’ll take looks. Not because I value looks, but because I know that society definitely does. Beautiful people just have easier lives.

  2. Katydid says

    This question is far too complex to be answered in a comment.

    @1 reminded me of a book that came out in 1977 called A Spell for Chameleon. It was the beginning of a fantasy series that absolutely has not aged well, but it’s a great example of the misogyny that was just so much part of everyday life that it wasn’t remarked on at the time. In this first book, a young man growing up in a fantasy land goes on a quest and meets up with a woman who cycles between brilliant and hideously ugly, and utterly stone-stupid but knockout gorgeous. People shunned her when she was smart and raped her when she was stupid.

    Just a note: Sarah Palin managed to claw herself up as high as she did because she gave men certain feelings in their pants. As she’s gotten older and lost the Republican-funded hairdressers and wardobe and makeup, her star has fallen. One suspects that had she been irredeemably plain, she never would have been

  3. Katydid says

    Now, for something completely different–answering the questions you asked.
    I’m glad you noticed that the people in the supermarket just looked like everyday people, not the extra-ordinary people you’d see in pictures or film or in heavily-filtered social media. Many years ago, someone said to me that most people are busy inside their own heads with their own thoughts and worries, not paying so much attention to other people.
    As for whether you dress for yourself or others…well, that depends. It depends on where you work and who you work with. For example, I’ve worked in places where if you asked a coworker what you wore yesterday, they’d look confused and say, “…clothes?” I’ve worked in offices where I’ve gotten a raised lip and a “Didn’t you just wear that shirt two weeks ago!?!” If your job depends on projecting exactly the right image, then what you wear is in large part dictated by the standard. But your job is more creative and in a more relaxed environment, and I suspect your therapist was trying to get you to focus on what image you want to portray.

  4. John Morales says

    Attractiveness is subjective, and it typically doesn’t last.
    And intelligence is useful in all sorts of contexts, whereas attractiveness is only useful when dealing with other people IRL.

  5. lanir says

    There’s a good deal of overlap in how either quality can make you feel. Generally I think our slightly simplistic view of beauty tells us that looking pretty is for other people’s enjoyment. And out simplistic view of intelligence is that it’s good for you.
    I think the best answer for any given person is probably “I’ll have both, thanks!” But barring that, they’d need to evaluate whether their self-esteem issues come more from their own view of how worthwhile they are as a person or if they’re more anchored in how other people view them. If you’re bothered by what other people see when they look at you then is that more because you’ve identified something about yourself that you don’t like and you’re afraid they’ll see it? Or are you have a more vague dread about how they might think of something surprising and mean to say?
    Also, intelligence is a great tool to have available to you but sometimes it can mean you’re just that much better at beating yourself up.

  6. flexilis says

    @3 Katydid re Sarah Palin
    They have Kari Lake lined up as the next Palin. She is 100% more articulate and polished and even deeper in Trumpian depths. Watch her career bloom.

  7. flexilis says

    @3 Katydid re Sarah Palin
    They have Kari Lake lined up as the next Palin. She is 100% more articulate and polished and even deeper in Trumpian depths. Watch her career bloom.

  8. Katydid says

    @ 8/9: yeah, I know. Palin was utterly ridiculous, but in the decade-plus since, they’re grown more-competent deplorables.

  9. dangerousbeans says

    As a trans woman it doesn’t matter how hot I am I still have to deal with all the cis BS. That said I’m not sure intelligence helps that much either, but i guess i’ll take intelligence.

  10. says

    I’m 60. Intelligence ages better. You can also apply your intelligence to making the most of your looks. It’s not as good as being born a supermodel, but it helps.
    Social media and photoshop have given us seriously messed up ideas of attractiveness. Please don’t compare yourself without makeup, flattering lighting and photoshop to someone on Instagram with all the above.
    With hindsight, what I’d really like to have had was good interpersonal skills.
    But I think the number one attribute for making life easier is still rich parents.

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