Originally Posted by Margaret
All other things being equal, it's usually better to be conventionally good looking ('serious' actors excepted) and well turned out than not. No surprise there. The thing is, all other things are NEVER equal -- the good-looking guy may be dim, the Rhodes scholar an asshole with poor social skills, the charmer a disorganized mess who can't hold a job... so all you should worry about is taking responsibility for maximizing whatever personal attributes you have and/or can develop. Why waste time and energy worrying about the stuff you can't change? There's a relatively small % of the population whose inherent appearance is so offputting that only an extaordinary level of emotional toughness and personal effort can salvage what would otherwise be a sub-standard quality of life or level of achievement. Those people have real challenges. The average homely joe schmo has no problems that can't be overcome with modest effort.
If life were really as hostile an experience as we sometimes make it out to be (myself included), we'd all be screwed.
You're right about the aesthetically "offputting" segment of the population. Which likely is bigger than most realize, for ugliness can make people reclusive. The anecdotal findings (like Tyra Banks in a fat suit) are confirmed by serious research.
But this is more a discussion about "the average homely joe schmo." Unless he has a very social personality, he probably has his problems.
The original post in the thread is a good example. Research shows that success in situations like that is linked to static appearance (body language excluded). And some of the elements of "confidence" that can compensate are themselves linked to appearance. (For instance, vocal quality is linked to facial attractiveness. Gilbert Gottfried, the type whose personality compensated, was just voted the "Unsexiest Man in the World.")
Situations like job interviews and online dating are heavily influenced by appearance. Looking like you don't belong (which includes being less attractive than the norm) will preclude the chance to be valued for, or even display, other characteristics. Not many are going to smile, make eye contact, show good body language, and speak confidently when receiving negative non-verbal feedback about their looks. Also, passing the interview or joining the club won't then make appearance irrelevant. Roles ("the unappreciated hard worker") can set quickly.
People who aren't satisfied with what already is should do anything and everything that is reasonable to enhance what nature gave them - dress well, get a good haircut, keep skin blemish-free, exercise... and also work on the non-visual presentation.