Want to Feel Beautiful? Science Says You May Want to Reevaluate Your Squad

Attractiveness by company you keep

Want to feel oh-so-pretty? You may think that the secret has to do with self-confidence, the perfect wardrobe, or possibly even having your own personal glam squad on call 24/7. But, what if it turned out you only need to surround yourself with less attractive people? Ouch. As harsh as that sounds, a new study suggests that the way others view an individual's looks is based on who they're with.


You know that old expression that says you're known by the company you keep? Well, if you thought that was just referring to character and integrity, think again. According to research published in Psychological Science, how good you look may be merely a function of how attractive (or unattractive) the people around you are.

Dr. Nicholas Furl, of the University of London's Royal Holloway's Department of Psychology, who authored the study, writes: "Rightly or wrongly, the way people look has a profound impact on the way others perceive them. We live in a society obsessed with beauty and attractiveness, but how we measure and understand these concepts is still a grey area."

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Let's explore that grey area, shall we? What the study found was that while we once thought one's level of attractiveness was stable, it turns out, it's not quite that simple.

Think of it this way: You've gone through life fancying yourself a "7" on a 1-10 scale of attractiveness, yet standing next to Blake Lively, you're considered a "2." But, hang out with Ugly Betty and suddenly, you're a "10." 

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It sounds cruel, but in a way it sort of makes sense. I know there have been times I feel like I'm looking OK until I stand next to my statuesque, Christie Brinkley–like cousin and suddenly, I feel like a hideous troll. 

"It's perhaps not too surprising that we are judged in relation to those around us," Dr. Furl noted. "This is a trope often seen in teen movies and romantic comedies, where a character associates themselves with a less attractive friend to elevate their own dating stake."

Furl cites the sadly titled film The DUFF, in which the adorable Mae Whitman portrays the "designated ugly fat friend," to show how beauty isn't a "fixed" quality. 

So, what's the takeaway? Surround yourself with less attractive people wherever and whenever possible? Not so fast. Instead, maybe focus on inner beauty, which hopefully shines through no matter who you're standing beside. 


Image via ABC

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