I had a discussion with colleagues a few weeks ago about beauty.

The discussion was around, do people get invited to speak at an event because they are beautiful?

Do beautiful people get special treatment simply because they are beautiful?

Does this mean not-so-beautiful people have to work extra hard to access the same opportunities that beautiful people get?

What I know and have observed is that people look at aesthetics first to make a decision. We buy a car because it is beautiful. Performance, and cost of ownership and affordability are secondary.

People who are unpleasant and mean-spirited are tolerated by society simply because they are beautiful.

Idols are chosen by how they look. The more look-able, the better.

Actors are chosen based on how they look. The more handsome the better. I recently watched a movie where a beautiful actress gave a mediocre performance.

Music videos prefer beautiful people.

Blog articles that have a beautiful model will be read and shared more.

The beauty industry is worth billions because people want to be beautiful.

The reason people and organizations have invested so much in beauty over the years is because they believe that beauty pays off.

We are visual beings.

We are hardwired to seek out beauty because over hundreds of thousands of years of evolution, humans have learned that beauty equals health and survival.

We also rely heavily on sight, as a sense, to guide our perceptions.

We taste first with our eyes, we know that first impressions are paramount, we let pictures tell us a story long before we read text.

And, let’s face it. We Are in the special events industry…an industry where aesthetics are a fundamental contributor to success.

All too often we get consumed by the attention to aesthetics needed for our events and we tire long before we apply the same sense of beauty to our own brands.

From websites to business cards, portfolio books to emails, every piece of communication tells the recipient what to think about us.

What is beauty?

You know it when you see it, sure, but what is it?

It turns out that beauty is an important evolutionary by-product.

An organism needs to invest energy in being beautiful. You won’t see healthy skin on a sick animal, because maintaining a healthy coat is too ‘expensive’.

A sick peacock is not as spectacular as a healthy one.

Or a genetically damaged chimp is not going to have as symmetrical a face. As a result, most creatures evolved their definitions of beauty in a mate to match the displays of healthy creatures.

Human beings have adopted this signaling strategy with a vengeance. I know a woman who is going to spend more than R90,000 having her hair styled in 2009 (hey, that’s less than R2,000 a week).

Entire industries are based on human beings spending time and money in order to manufacture temporary physical beauty.

Businesses build lobbies that they rarely use, giant atriums with big windows and lots of empty space.

It’s a waste, it’s expensive and it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful because it’s expensive.

Stop for a minute and think about the relationship between expense and beauty.

Do you make something beautiful?

It could be the way you write hand written letters or leave a little extra on the product, even if maybe it is not so efficient. Sometimes efficiency is beautiful, but only when it took a lot of extra effort to get there.

Ordinary products are almost never beautiful. Austere products might be, but only when real effort is expended to make them that way.

Even the most hard-hearted people are suckers for beauty.

We treat people and products differently when we think they are beautiful.

A website that does not cram ads into every single nook and cranny is more beautiful… it is also more expensive to run in the short run.

A salesperson who does not squeeze you for every penny is more confident, earning more of your trust… that is beautiful.

When everyone has it, it ceases to be beautiful. (Babies are beautiful because time takes their babyhood away so quickly… it’s a guaranteed temporary effect).

What’s more beautiful is how we treat people, than how we physically look.

Real beauty is being good inside, when you care, show empathy, are trustworthy, loyal, committed, not narcissistic, when you matter, when you genuinely show concern for others.

Warmth is beautiful.

Doing work that matters is beautiful.

Beauty is not what the eyes can behold but what the heart can hold.

What we see with our eyes will vanish someday, but what we store in our heart will last forever.

True beauty is what the heart can hold long after the physical aesthetic are gone.

Beauty is a signal, not just a physical state.

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