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Would You Rather be Brilliant or Beautiful?

Isabella Rossellini never fails to impress me with her unique beauty. Yes, she lucked out genetically — having Ingrid Bergman as your mom can't hurt. But to me, the former Lancome model is really attractive because of her intelligence.

If I had to choose between being drop-dead gorgeous but not very bright, or being homely but brilliant, I'd choose the latter. Wit and charm are more valuable than good looks alone, and I'm not just saying that. (Think of the gorgeous guy at a party who winds up having the conversational skills of a banana slug. Compared to the less-handsome but funny and smart dudes, there's no contest.)

I know that you, dear reader, would never have to choose, as you are both smart and beautiful. But if you had to, which way would you go?

Join The Conversation
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I'd rather be beautiful and dim because ignorance is bliss. You wouldn't know what you were missing and you'd be incredibly happy because you wouldn't know what was going on in the world. Brilliant and homely? So not only are the world's problems keeping you up at night, but you are also ugly to boot. No thanks!
cherryice cherryice 9 years
I think intelligence is one of the most important things a person could have, so that's my pick. I'd use my smarts to get a great paying job and then have some nipping and tucking done.
rosey_y rosey_y 9 years
In reference to the analogy about the guy at the party, I'd just like to point out that a far higher premium is placed on female beauty than male beauty, so it's not quite the same thing. How about: "think of the GIRL at the party who's drop dead gorgeous but dumb, and then the homely girl who's clever and sharp - who gets the guys?". Uh, the beautiful one! If I was a man, the choice would be easy - homely and brilliant. I'm fortunate enough to have both, and both have huge positives, so I'd have a very hard time choosing in reality. For me this isn't a cut and dry issue. I think that with intelligence comes a level of introspection and awareness that makes it difficult to ever be truly happy with life. (Or perhaps that's just me.) When I look at a woman who's incredibly gorgeous yet stupid... would it really be so bad? Sure she might be ignorant of many things, but if she's a remotely pleasant person chances are she'll spend her life being worshipped, adored, happy. I know what the adored part is like and it's lovely of course; it's my intellect that gives me hell. The beautiful ditz won't know what she's missing out on in life, she simply won't know any better. However, a homely genius is going to painfully aware of what they lack and what it means for them. Who'll live, and die, happier?
Lovely-One Lovely-One 9 years
Both. But to actually answer, I'd say... Brilliant. Brilliant people are beautiful, because they are just so dang special! Beautiful people are attractive- but can they have an intellectual conversation...?
cbear cbear 9 years
I once knew a fantastically gorgeous, young, vibrant woman who was to put in nicely as dumb as a plank. It was fascinating to watch as people (mostly males) made allowances for her lack of knowledge, laughing at her ill-timed jokes and failed attempts at wit. My two cents: Dumb people don't know that they're dumb.
nikecold nikecold 9 years
I think I've got both, I'm not brilliant but I am pretty smart if I do say so myself. And I'm no miss Universe, but I'm above average. So on both counts I would way I'm bit above average but if I had to choose, even if it IS really painful to not feel beatiful I'd rather be smart than pretty. Besides everyone can look beautiful nowadays, you can buy boobs if you want them or a more prominent chin, but tell me where exactly can you buy intelligence? That being said I don't think I'd ever want to be painfully beautiful or extremely smart, no matter how great it is it always seems like its so much more difficult for people like that.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
You can always change your looks to become more attractive or play up your "flaws" to be quirky cute.
filmgirl81 filmgirl81 9 years
I think a thin average looking person with the right hair, make up , and clothes can look beautiful. But yeah, you can't fix dumb
caligirl101 caligirl101 9 years
so funny, I misspelled brilliant!
caligirl101 caligirl101 9 years
drrrr, briillant.
pharm_chick pharm_chick 9 years
when youre just pretty, theres always someone you think is prettier.. but when your the smartest, idk it gets you farther in life.. so def brains over looks.. not to say looks are any less though!!
gingernuts gingernuts 9 years
I'd rather be both -- the people would actually listen.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
I rather be cute but SMRT (like Homer J.). Brilliant to me always best.
juliarose23 juliarose23 9 years
yeah i think there are always ways to improve your looks, if you really really care. but intelligence is something you are born with, and comes naturally.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
rachi99, that was a great message. You have a wonderful attitude toward life!
trésjolie1 trésjolie1 9 years
Great comment, rachi99! I think we are all beautiful in our own right, and you will always find someone who will love you for who you are. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and a sharp intellect can be extremely attractive, as can a sharp sense of humor and so on. I can only choose for myself(hypothetically), but as I've stated above I think brains are more giving than beauty alone. Doesn't mean I don't like make up and fancy stuff, I just try to balance it off. Sometimes that can be hard in our society, but that is where the brain kicks in again!
aestrick aestrick 9 years
You can fix homely. Stupid, you're just stuck with that.
pinkmystic pinkmystic 9 years
beauty Life is easier that way...
BalsamicZero BalsamicZero 9 years
Missyd - I feel exactly the same.
buzi buzi 9 years
Just for the sake of making a point: Condoleeza Rice or Naomi Campbell? Let it marinate... Im just saying.
rachi99 rachi99 9 years
I am fat (and yes, I am working on it for my health, but I have always been heavy. Not grotesquely obese, but markedly overweight.) Therefore, many people (and let's be honest here, some of the ladies here in this community would be among them) dismiss me out of hand as being ugly. However, I am also bright. Growing up, I was "the smart one" and my sister was "the pretty one." (Never mind that my sister is a very intelligent individual.) I've never once seriously thought I'd give up my intellectual ability to be considered "prettier". "Well," you might think, "of COURSE the fat chick is going to say it's better to be whatever she is." In all fairness, I do enjoy makeup and jewelry, and I do try to do the best I can with what I have, so I am not claiming to be above caring about my own appearance. As for life being easier, that may very well be true - but I'm not convinced that life is supposed to be easy. For that matter, when you talk about the things that are really hard in life (loss, death, disease, etc), I think that BOTH attractiveness and intelligence are largely irrelevant. In terms of the day-to-day, though, I do not think that failing to meet arbitrary social standards of beauty has hurt me at all. I'm a respected and successful professional with multiple advanced degrees, I have wonderful friends and family, and I have an amazing husband. I'm not sure which part of that was "hard." I advocate embracing the gifts that we have, and developing the traits that are important to us, be it beauty, or brains, or both. Good people come in all kinds of different packages.
kerish kerish 9 years
well if am smart I will have a good job..wth a good job comes money...with that plastic surgery can be an option,a personal shopper etc......brain surgery doesnt correct dumbness....cant improve intelligence
ranksubjugation ranksubjugation 9 years
Here's a definition of homely. Based on that, I'd choose brilliant -- because then I'd probably have enough good ideas to improve my looks. If we're pitting UGLY against beautiful, though... sorry, I say beautiful. I'd probably get a good-looking mate and be too dumb to know how vacant we both were. Ignorance is bliss, etc. Dictionary: homely (hōm'lē) pronunciation Sponsored Links Richmond Hill Inn Asheville NC 4 Diamond Inn & Dining See our Internet packages adj., -li·er, -li·est. 1. Not attractive or good-looking: a homely child. 2. Lacking elegance or refinement: homely furniture. 3. Of a simple or unpretentious nature; plain: homely truths. 4. Characteristic of the home or of home life: homely skills.
krampalicious krampalicious 9 years
fortunately, i know i'm not gorgeous, but i am at least cute and damn smart to boot.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
It would be nice to not have to pick one or the other but I picked brillance. The annoying thing is though that it seems anything considered smart and kind of high brow is typically labeled pretentious even if it isn't at all. It's like if we have some obligation to pretend to be the everyman/everywoman who likes common things. I'm a Gemini I like knowing things and liking interesting things. Being common is over rated and it's sad that it almost seems that society thinks that's what I'm supposed to aspire to. The beauty thing is difficult though because some of the people other people consider gorgeous, I consider dull and some of the people who wouldn't be labeled at being very attractive, I find more appealing and interesting to look at. I don't like common generic "perfect" beauty." Imperfections" are more interesting.
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