“There are no ugly women, just lazy ones.”
Not long ago, I noticed that the non-profit I’d worked for in Houston in the 90’s had FINALLY gotten around to putting up a website. As I clicked around, noting how many of my former co-workers were still there after all these years (it was a fun place to work), I saw that the Director of Fund Raising, Millie, had recently retired so she could spend more time with her husband. Her RICH second husband, that is, the one she’d landed at age 73. Seeing her photo by the announcement, I chuckled and thought, “You go girl!”
Well, as my mother used to say, being attractive PAYS.
Research has long supported this. Attractive people get more attention from their teachers at school, enjoy more interest from the opposite sex when dating, and are typically paid more than their less-attractive counterparts. As much as we may rail against the unrealistic ideals of human perfection in our society, the truth is that those who most closely resemble it are often richly rewarded.
Millie has certainly benefited. A striking, “handsome” woman with dark hair and beautiful skin, Millie is a consummate professional who has always taken time for grooming and exercise. Her carefully chosen wardrobe has allowed her access to the highest echelons of society for decades, and when she was hired at the non-profit, her large starting salary sent ripples of discontent throughout the organization. Still, she’s had her challenges. One of her children was born disabled, and she lost her first husband, James, her college sweetheart, after 45 years of marriage.
But her visibility within her community combined with her dedication to looking good meant she wasn’t alone for long. She remarried within 4 years. While lots of women joke about marrying “first time for love, second time for money,” Millie actually married quite well both times – to prominent attorneys who adored her.
So what does this have to do with you?
Well, just as looking good and striving for excellence can lead to all sorts of exciting opportunities, regardless of your age, so, too, can neglecting your appearance and “settling” for things lead to unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Our lives often reflect how we feel about ourselves.
So if things aren’t going the way you’d like right now — job, finances, relationships, or whatever — maybe it’s time to take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror. Maybe it’s time to get back to basics. Maybe it’s time to reinvent yourself.
Because how you look can literally change the trajectory of your life.
If that sounds a bit dramatic, consider this:
According to recent news reports, many middle-aged Americans are turning to plastic surgery to “nip and tuck” their way back into a competitive job market. Face lifts, implants, and injectables are among the most popular procedures performed by plastic surgeons these days, with many patients seeing the move as “an investment” in their futures. To be competitive, you need good experience AND a good look.
That’s the current job market.
In the dating world, the best-looking people have long enjoyed the biggest selection. When you see a good-looking guy with a plain-looking girl, what do you think? That she has a great personality or is spectacular in bed, right? Gorgeous girl, ugly guy? He must be filthy rich. Otherwise, how could they be so mis-matched? Silly, yes, but that’s how we think. When people set up their friends on blind dates, they tend to match people of equal looks together (a “10” with a “10” or a “5” with a “5”). And when someone strays in a relationship, one of the reasons most often cited is that the partner has “let him/herself go” – they no longer look like they did when the commitment was made.
So what can you do to “get back in the game” if you find yourself sidelined in the attractiveness department?
Well, thinking back to my friend Millie, you can:
1. Get in Shape
Being physically fit has many benefits, including feeling great and extending your life. All the double-takes from guys isn’t bad either. If you haven’t exercised in a while, ease back into it slowly and commit to a schedule. Once you start seeing results, you’ll be hooked!
2. Attend to Your Grooming
Get a great haircut, perfect your skin care routine, try some makeup lessons, get a manicure and pedicure, and attend to any necessary hair removal. Yes, there’s a little work involved, but the payoff’s worth it.
3. Upgrade Your Wardrobe
Millie had a small but expensive wardrobe when we worked together; the pieces were well made and fit her perfectly. Everything was chosen with care. She could dictate correspondence, meet with contributors, or dine with socialites at a moment’s notice any day of the week. “Dress down” was not part of her success vocabulary.
4. Build a Network
There’s an old saying that you should be able to reach anyone in the world you want to talk to — President Obama, Queen Elizabeth, George Clooney, or whomever – in 3 phone calls, based on who you know and who the people you know know. Because of her massive network, Millie would be my first call in many instances. But networks aren’t just for connecting with celebrities – they’re also great for finding work, mates, and others who share your interests.
5. Get a Life
Between her first husband’s career climb and their disabled child, it would have been really easy for Millie to slip out of the social scene to focus exclusively on her family. No one would have blamed her. But she never completely cut herself off like that; she always had SOMETHING going on that was “just for her.” She led the annual High Holiday musical at her temple. She worked for local political campaigns. She volunteered for her favorite charities. She kept her interests alive and by doing so, remained connected, vibrant, and interesting.
So what’s the bottom line?
Being attractive pays. When you take the time to look good, you feel good, and that confidence shows. It also creates a domino effect. So take stock of your situation, take a good look in the mirror, and get yourself on the path to your goals. Who knows where they may lead?
Need some more tips on looking great at any age? Download a copy of AGELESS STYLE to see how easy looking great can be.