The Choice

Delta Winds cover 2001Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


The Choice

Becki Lynn Webber

Would you rather be physically attractive and dim-witted or intelligent and homely? Intelligence is being clever and resourceful. An intelligent person is able to identify and solve a problem and has the capability of understanding concepts. Physical attractiveness is being alluring, stunning, eye-catching, and physically fit. Perhaps being both bright and attractive would be great, but if forced to choose, I would rather be intelligent and homely.

Intelligence doesn't fade. Once a person learns something, it stays with him. If it doesn't, then he never really learned it in the first place. Take, for example, Albert Einstein who, at the age of 12, taught himself Euclidean geometry and then years later formulated his Theory of Relativity. As age set in he didn't lose his intelligence. Another well-known historical figure, Benjamin Franklin, started his career at the age of 26 by publishing Poor Richard's Almanac. He eventually discovered electricity and, at an advanced age, was one of the framers of our constitution. Intelligence is something that he continued to have. Neither of these men would have been considered "physically attractive," but both of them used their intelligence to improve society.

Physical attraction, on the other hand, does fade. As people grow older, age sets in. Wrinkles fill the face and hands, and weight is often gained. One such person who demonstrates this is Elizabeth Taylor. When she was young she was an incredible beauty. As age set in, however, she lost much of the glamor she possessed in her youth. She gained weight, lost her stunning black hair color, and developed wrinkles. Physical attraction, a superficial element to life that our society deems extremely important, ends up as just a memory.

Intelligence offers an individual a more meaningful and perhaps a more fulfilling life. When a person is working towards a goal, he has a sense of satisfaction when that goal is accomplished. In 1924, Albert Calmette and Camille Guerin, two French bacteriologists, developed the first vaccine for tuberculosis, which would later be fine-tuned to become the vaccine we know today. They knew that their discovery would benefit others in the future. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was another person who dedicated her life in hopes of helping future generations. She spent at least 50 years of her life fighting for women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery. Her hard work eventually led to passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, giving women the right to vote. Even though she was not alive to see it happen, she knew that her effort would assist women in the future. These people used their intelligence to improve society so that future generations could enjoy a better quality of life.

Physically attractive people cannot find the same satisfaction in work because often careers are based solely on good looks. For these people, employment is over once they grow old or gain weight. As an example, model Claudia Schiffer has used her looks as a way to get ahead in life. By doing so, she doesn't make any contributions to society that can benefit others in any significant way. Her occupation leaves no relevant mark on the world. A hundred years from now, no one will talk of her or know who she was. Her work does not help future generations. People only see her as a "pretty face;" they don't care if she is intelligent as long as she is physically attractive.

When models are rewarded for their looks, people receive the wrong message. Such emphasis on superficial appearance can hinder the individual and the society. People obsessed with their physiques often take extreme measures: girls can become anorexic and boys can take steroids, both of which can result in health problems and even death. Society promotes the wrong values with such attention to inevitably deteriorating physical beauty.

Intelligent and homely over beautiful and dim-witted is the best option unless one can have both. It is better that a person make invaluable contributions to society than look pretty on the cover of a magazine. After all, without those individuals who are willing to take a risk, to discover new technologies and concepts, where would we be today?