“I’m too ugly to get a job.”
—Daniel Gallagher, a Miami bank robber, after police captured him in 2003
Here’s a weird little article about a study that tracked 15,000 teenagers for four years, analyzing grades, income, and brushes with the law. The interviewers also rated the kids on their attractiveness, and when the numbers were crunched, the study found a correlation between being ugly and committing crimes.
The authors don’t miss the obvious point, though: “Other studies have shown that unattractive men and women are less likely to be hired, and that they earn less money, than the better-looking. Such inferior circumstances may steer some to crime, Mocan and Tekin suggest.”
Notice that the correlation wasn’t huge, but it was there. To state the obvious: not everyone who was rated unattractive was a crim, and a lot of the pretty kids had broken the law. But being ugly clearly leads to social stress, which can push human beings closer to anti-socal behavior. (Economic stress does, too. When unemployment goes up in a group, crime and divorce almost always go up.) This doesn’t excuse any individual’s behavior, but it does make this point:
There really is a social cost to the way we think about beauty, and to the way we treat each other based on looks.
It makes me feel like the Uglies universe really is a possibility. Maybe one day some society really will decide to get rid of the beauty problem once and for all.
(But in the meantime, it’s nice to know that TV and movies never lie.)