The Greg Brady Effect

OK, before I offend anyone, specifically Barry Williams, I want to preface this by saying I came up with this effect back in high school when the Internet wasn’t really that big of a thing, and I don’t like to insult someone to make my point. That said, I don’t put much stock in looks anyway. It’s strange, but I never have. I mean, I get that people are physically appealing, but I’ve never thought good looks go farther than, well, looks.

However, that doesn’t seem to be true for many people. There are people who only date dark haired girls. Or girls who are under 5’4”. Or guys who are muscular. Or have blue eyes. I suppose it’s probably some weird continuation of the species thing. And I SEE people who are attractive and appreciate it. But I have never dated someone just because they’re good looking. In fact, my biggest pet peeve is when people start dating and the first thing someone asks is “Is he cute?” Why does that matter? Are only popular culture’s definition of good looking people OK to date? I always want to ask if he’s funny. Or is tolerant of different races, religions and sexualities. But that might be weird, too. So I mostly just say, “Tell me about him!”

This weekend I was watching Bridezillas, and a groom-to-be was with this awful, awful girl. His family and friends were telling him to not do it. And instead of giving some weird “she just gets me” thing that most people say he says, “The best thing about her is she’s beautiful.” And then he goes on to say that normally he gets bored with a girl, but even after six months he’s still interested IN HER LOOKS! What?! This guy is getting married because she’s pretty? And she doesn’t even care. She says, “I had a baby, and I still look like THIS!”

What. The. Fuck?

I’ve had people validate dating someone who’s spiraled into illegal drug use, prescription pill use or alcoholism because he’s cute. Or look past emotional manipulation or physical abuse because he’s hot. Hell, people have said there’s no way a guy could be a murder or a rapist or a pedophile because he’s so good looking. He’s too cute to be a bad person? What?! How are the two even the same?

And who decides what attractive is, anyway?

This logic blows my mind.

Here’s the thing: If you gave me pictures of 10 guys, I could probably put them in order of who I think is the best looking, assuming I don’t know them. But let me get to know these guys for an hour, or days, or weeks, or years, and I guarantee even if their looks didn’t change at all, I’d rank them differently. The best looking guys aren’t good looking anymore once they spew small-minded hate. And a guy who maybe isn’t number one on the list could propel to the top spot by being awesome, open-minded, kind, generous, funny, etc.

And I’m not just saying that. I think when you start to see the good inside a person (no, that’s not dirty!), that starts to shine through and their best features are highlighted and the things that might make them traditionally good looking as somehow not as apparent. Whereas, the best looking people come out with a terrible attitude, a shitty personality or a self-centered approach and suddenly you notice their eyes aren’t as blue, or their hair is receding. Their smile looks fake and their style is arrogant.

I swear this happens. But I feel like I’m in the minority. I hate that we even look at each other and judge one another as good looking or not. Like there’s any value in that. But I know that happens. I also know I’m not hot or even considered beautiful. I’m actually OK with that, too. I realize this is life, and I have a lot more to offer than looks in friendships, romance and everything else. I’m more than what I look like. But I wish that were the rule more than the exception.

In the meantime I like to remind myself that looks fade. When I was younger, an easy way to see this was to compare Greg Brady from The Brady Bunch to his current-time looks. He’s not bad looking, obviously, but he’s also not TV star hot anymore. People age. It’s what happens. Even if he’s the best looking 40-year old, he’s not ever going to be 18 again. So those who coveted him just for being good looking, what are they left with? The personality, ethics, and flaws of a real person. I’m not saying these things are bad for Barry Williams. In fact, he might be a fantastic person. But if all you care about are looks, you’d never get to appreciate that. And you might overlook someone who’s a great match for you.

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