It’s not fair that God made some people incredibly beautiful, and others just average!

Here’s a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Kimberly:

How come some people are blessed with beauty, while others aren’t as beautiful aesthetically?

I guess I feel it’s unfair, how God made some people incredibly beautiful, while others are just average.

Okay, so I have a question for you, Kimberly:

Are you trying to get me into trouble with all the women and girls in the world?!?

But seriously . . . it’s a great question! At least, all the women I’ve mentioned it to so far think it is. And there are probably a lot of men who think the same thing, whether or not they’ll admit it.

Which woman will be more successful?

Which woman will be more successful?

Study after study shows that people who are beautiful are more successful financially, socially, intellectually, politically, and romantically than people who are not so beautiful. People who are beautiful also generally have a better self-image, and are more likely to approach everything they do with a belief that they will be successful. And though it certainly doesn’t guarantee success, the power of positive thinking does make people more likely to succeed.

So you may be surprised to hear that I agree with you. By almost any measure you care to make, it’s not fair that God made some people incredibly beautiful, and others just average.

Fairness comes only in the things that can’t be measured: spiritual things.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

First, let’s just admit that this is a real problem for many, many people, both women and men. Especially if you are a young woman just starting out in life, it can feel like your whole life depends on whether you were born with beautiful genomes, or whether your genetic roll of the dice came out snake eyes. And no matter who you are, your looks can have a major impact on your life.

This world isn’t fair

News flash! In this world, fairness is more the exception than the rule.

  • Some people are born rich, others are born poor.
  • Some people are born healthy, others are born with genetic diseases.
  • Some people have loving parents, others have abusive parents.
  • Some people have high intelligence, others have low intelligence.
  • Some are born with natural beauty, others are not so beautiful.

No matter how much we may attempt to bring fairness into human society, all around us we see unfairness, and even injustice. How is it fair that some people start out with all the advantages, while others have two strokes against them from the moment they’re born?

We can’t answer all of those questions right now. So let’s focus on the question at hand. To use Kimberly’s words, why are some people are blessed with beauty, while others aren’t as beautiful aesthetically?

There are many reasons given for this, such as:

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Everyone is beautiful in his or her own way.

Different societies have different standards of beauty. For example, present-day Western standards of beauty generally require women to be very slender. But Middle Eastern cultures are more likely to prize fleshy, full-bodied women. Given that standards of beauty vary, can we really say that one woman (or man) is beautiful, and another is not?

If everyone were beautiful, nobody would be beautiful.

The Women's Bath, by Albrecht Durer, 1496

The Women’s Bath, by Albrecht Durer, 1496

We see beauty more clearly in contrast to lesser beauty and to ugliness. In a crowd of not so beautiful people, those who are beautiful stand out, and we appreciate their beauty more. That’s why classic artwork sometimes shows a beautiful woman surrounded by women who are less beautiful and even ugly according to societal standards of beauty at the time. And in today’s popular movie industry, the leading female characters are likely to be the most beautiful women on the cast, and plain women are included in order to emphasize the beauty of the leading lady.

Beauty is skin deep. Inner beauty is what really counts.

You can’t judge a book by its cover. A person who is physically beautiful may be vain, selfish, egotistical, and generally ugly in character. The true measure of a woman (or man) is her character. In the end, people who are kind, loving, and thoughtful will be more loved and more fulfilled in life than those who are physically beautiful but spiritually repellent.

Yes, but what about fairness?

All of these are good and valid points. They offer perspectives that can help us to sort out issues of physical beauty, average looks, and ugliness in our minds.

But they still don’t address the issue of fairness.

How is it fair that beautiful people have so many advantages over those who are less beautiful, or are physically disfigured?

And even though societal standards of beauty may vary, the practical reality is that we live in particular societies that have particular standards of beauty. If we measure up to those standards of beauty, it gives us social, financial, political, and sexual advantages over those who don’t.

Besides, it’s a little too facile to say that beauty is just arbitrary. In fact, studies show that beauty is a general physical indicator of health, intelligence, and reproductive fitness. Beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder. It is also linked to real physical and mental advantages. (And incidentally, faces that are an average of many faces are considered more beautiful than those that are very different from the norm.)

Finally, though people who have good character but not physical attractiveness certainly can and do achieve success, they have to be more determined and work harder to achieve it. Meanwhile, those who are both beautiful and have strong character still have the advantage.

How is this fair?

And to take up Kimberly’s question, why did God make some people incredibly beautiful, while others are just average?

Physical fairness vs. spiritual fairness

Fairness is a human concept and a human virtue.

Throughout nature, there is no such thing as fairness. In nature, the young and strong prevail, while the old and weak die. In nature, physical beauty and power also give great advantages. The male peacock with the most beautiful feathers will get the females. And the healthiest and strongest male lion will get all of the available female lions, while lesser males must live as loners with no reproductive and genetic future.

Despite all the platitudes about how physical beauty doesn’t matter, the fact is that it does matter not only in the world of nature, but in the world of human culture, business, finance, and politics.

Which woman will be more successful?

Which woman will be more successful?

So let’s just admit that when it comes to our place in the material world and in human society here on earth, beauty does matter, and it’s not fair that some people have great physical beauty while others do not.

If your focus is on success in the material world, there is no fairness. If you’re beautiful, you have a big advantage. If you’re not, you’re going to have to work a lot harder—and even if you do, you’ll probably be less successful than if you were beautiful.

Fairness is a human concept because fairness is a spiritual concept, and it exists only in spiritual things, not material things.

Yes, it’s true that God created a world in which people who are incredibly beautiful have an advantage over those who are just average. We call that world the material world.

But God also created a world in which not only physical beauty, but material, social, financial, and political success do not give any advantages. In that world, even a naturally good, pleasant, and sociable character doesn’t give any advantages. We call that world the spiritual world.

Physical beauty gives no spiritual advantages

Materially, there is no fairness except whatever fairness we humans manage to impose on an unfair world.

But spiritually, those who are beautiful have no advantage at all over those who are not.

In fact, spiritually, physical beauty can even be a negative.

Women who are very beautiful often depend on their beauty for their livelihood.

  • Some use their beauty to catch a wealthy man who will support them.
  • Some use their beauty to launch a career in modeling or acting.
  • Some use their beauty to support themselves through stripping or pornography.
  • And of course, some use their beauty to secure advancement in business or politics.

To the extent that a woman’s livelihood depends upon her physical beauty, she must spend a great deal of time and money cultivating and preserving her beauty. In fact, it commonly becomes the primary focus of her life. She will spend hours and hours each day grooming herself and tending to her physical health, and will spend thousands of dollars on beauty products, beauty salons, and cosmetic surgery.

Certainly it is a good idea to tend to the health and fitness of our physical body. But people who possess great beauty can become so focused on their physical beauty that it pulls them away from any kind of spiritual, emotional, and intellectual development.

How can a woman (or a man, for that matter) develop as a person if nearly every waking moment is spent focused on her physical body and her physical beauty? Where is the time for reading and contemplation, for thought and intellectual development, for focusing on the human relationships and spiritual growth that truly matter, and that make us truly human and not just a highly successful species of animal?

Yes, as much as physical beauty provides an unfair advantage in the material and social world, it can easily become a huge distraction and disadvantage spiritually.

Spiritual fairness

Spiritually speaking, those who have physical beauty have no advantage at all over those who don’t. Spiritually, there is no unfairness. Because spiritually, what counts is developing a character that includes love, understanding, and a dedication to serving and caring for our fellow human beings.

Beauty is a God-given blessing. But only for those who are not focused on their beauty. People with great physical beauty can just as easily use it for selfish ends—to get money, power, sex, and success for themselves—as they can for selfless purposes, such as bringing enjoyment and happiness to others.

Spiritually speaking, beauty is a blessing for those who devote their lives to loving and serving their fellow human beings, but a curse for those who devote their lives—and their beauty—to their own wealth, power, and pleasure.

Spiritually speaking, people who are born with just average looks, or even with ugly and disfigured faces, are at no disadvantage compared to those who have great physical beauty. In fact, if those who suffer from physical disadvantages don’t become bitter and envious, their “average looks” can be a spiritual advantage to them. As they struggle to overcome their natural disadvantages, they can and commonly do develop a depth of character, love, and compassion for their fellow human beings that is often lacking in people who were born with all the material advantages of beauty, wealth, and power.

Spiritually speaking, God is 100% fair. Whatever our physical advantages and disadvantages may be, we can still choose to focus our life on love and understanding rather than on selfishness and bitterness.

This world is unfair. It favors the beautiful, the rich, and the powerful over the average, the poor, and the powerless.

But when we arrive at the doorstep of our eternal home in the spiritual world, none of that will matter.

God and the angels will not ask us how beautiful we were, how much money we made, how much power we had, or how good our sex was.

Instead, they will ask us what we did with our beauty or with our average looks. They will ask whether we developed the inner beauty that comes from love, compassion, understanding, concern, and practical service to our fellow human beings.

And you know what?

In the spiritual world, where we will live forever, our face and body will be beautiful, average, or ugly depending on whether we have become a beautiful, average, or ugly person in spirit through our life and our choices here on earth.

Which would you rather have:

  1. Physical beauty that lasts only a few decades? Or,
  2. Beauty in both body and spirit that lasts forever?

This article is a response to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.

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About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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190 comments on “It’s not fair that God made some people incredibly beautiful, and others just average!
  1. Lee Chandler says:

    Short sighted. It doesn’t stop at average, some people are UGLY and poor and dumb and
    uncoordinated etc. There maybe sitcoms about it but a real life like that is humiliating and
    frustrating etc. It is not funny. Look at the sermon on the mount, Christ is talking about our
    reaction to what happens to us, He doesn’t care how we suffer because of these things.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Lee,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. Yes, some people do get the short end of the stick. No doubt about it. And society can be very unkind to them. But even the “ugly, poor, dumb, and uncoordinated” have a choice about whether to become bitter and defeated due to their looks and circumstances or whether to make something of their life despite their circumstances.

  2. bravegirl72 says:

    Curious posts in general. Sexist, to be sure, to focus on any woman’s looks. This same view is almost never applied to men. No one has any control over how they are born in this life. Women who are born “beautiful” – and let us please admit this is all highly subjective from the start – are often subject to abuse from men and envy from women. “Beauty” is a double-edged sword. When we treat women like objects, we all fail. Better to focus on the sin in this world, the evil done to women and children, at the hands of vile men and women. How do we heal human sin and sickness? Most in my view stems from jealousy and envy, the same things “beautiful” women are subjected to, that the media manipulates daily. It manipulates the lust for “beauty” by pretending this is the most a woman can hope for, to be “beautiful”. To uphold “beauty” as a leveraging tool manipulated by “beautiful” women is to turn “beauty” into a desirable asset when it clearly comes equipped with thorns. What is beauty? Who is more “beautiful” than another? What makes her physically appealing? Why is this important? You more or less get it right, in this world, this trait can win women – and men – various things the world deems important. Clearly inner qualities such as you lay out are more important. Women are treated so badly still simply by the focus being on their outer and not inner appearance. Again nothing men are subjected to for the most part. Such emphasis can lead to objectification, abuse, and is certainly the basis for pornography. Let us all be careful of how we define outer beauty, what values we want society to deem important, and work on creating a world in which inner beauty, indeed, is what counts. This will never happen, but we can slowly change hearts and minds by being that standard ourselves. Physical beauty is only important to this world. And, most beautiful women – so-called – will pay for that beauty. I had a gorgeous friend who was harassed at work by a man and hated by her female co-workers. Is she lucky? Satan’s playground has a way of making people pay for how they are born, through no fault of their own. The above is solely my opinion.

  3. Tony says:

    Interesting article.
    If a person is born lets say quite physically unattractive not average but actually ugly then that person will have emotional and mental issues because of such a situation.
    This will thenmake it harder to be spiritually beautiful as they will be or could be emotionally or mentally crippled.
    If a person does not love and accept themselves they can not easily love others
    So inadvertently by god allowing physical unfairness the result IS spiritual unfairness
    I disagree with your conclusion on thos basis

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your thoughts.

      And yet . . . many people who are, by their society’s standards, quite physically unattractive live very good and satisfying lives. It is a choice to become bitter rather than making the best of our situation, whatever that situation might be. Different people have different struggles. For some it is physical, for others it is social, for others it is mental, for others it is emotional, and so on. Each one of us can make something good of our life if we make the choice to do so, and put our time and energy into bringing about that good each day.

  4. Go Figure says:

    Even God is very ugly, especially when he punishes the innocent.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Go Figure,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I know there are many, many religious people who believe that God punishes the guilty, and even many whose doctrines say that God punishes the innocent. Those people are completely wrong—as I say in many articles here. If you’re interested, I would be happy to continue the conversation with you, and refer you to some of those articles.

      For example, my most recent (long) article, “Response to a Calvinist Critique of my article ‘Faith Alone Does Not Sav,e’” attacks the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which says that God chose before Creation which people would go to eternal torment in hell. That is truly a cruel and insane belief!

  5. richard l says:

    People are’t always nice to ugly people we rush judge very fast, We’ve all don’t it.
    God made somethings beautiful a sun rise or a sun set we see beauty all the time.
    Feeling ugly is cold, it’s empty, it’s pain,it’s loss I live that everyday.
    I’ve prayed for God to fix me or just take me home, I’ve been here for 50 years and it hasn’t gotten better So I don’t think GOD is fare,.Having good health and a good mind and living a long life is nothing. Without love and some happiness. You can’t speak for god your not him.
    I just wish I never felt this way. It’s hard being positive when you feel you weren’t given a fare chance to live. I’d give up this whole life for one day of feeling Pretty or Handsome or Beautiful. JUST ONE DAY feeling ugly for a life time is no way to live….

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with your appearance. I hope this article gives you at least some help.

  6. richard l says:

    I wish you didn’t tell people about fairness and beauty and god in the same. Being the apple in God’s eyes doesn’t help how you see yourself. You can’t see God, You can’t feel God, we really do not know if God exist. We’d all like to think there’s a God. All I know life is not fair for some, that’s the truth. I don’t judge anyone believes. I do wish in fair play but we are so far away from that. I don’t feel attractive, never did it’s kept me away from a different life. whether it’s a dream life or a fantasy. I think at times I’d rather blame God or my self for my looks, Not tv, people or magazines. Not feeling comfortable in your own skin for 45 years stinks. There are a lot of people writing you about fairness and how God might of wronged them. I feel wronged by God and it’s not all about how I look. I apologize if I have offended you or anyone, but I’m looking for answers within myself. I know that church GOD and faith does truly help some but it’s not a fix all. God bless be kind to each other it’s hard out there.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for continuing the conversation. I wish there were some platitudes I could spout to make you feel better, but as I said in the article, the reality is that life on this earth is not fair. We have to play the hand we’re dealt, and some people are dealt a hand full of aces, while others get a few odd deuces.

      In the end, though, I still believe that your parting line, to “be kind to each other, it’s hard out there,” is what prevails. Many beautiful people are mean and nasty (others are very nice), and many ugly people are good and thoughtful (others are not). Which ones will, in the end, have a better life? The ones who are kind and thoughtful. Maybe not here on earth, but this life is only the beginning of a much longer existence. On that, see:
      Where is the Proof of the Afterlife?

      And even if there is no God or afterlife, isn’t it better to do what we can to make this world a better place, and leave it richer in human terms because we were here?

  7. richard l says:

    Yes the world has failed, god can fail us too, Some good people suffer, KIDS suffer, but churches make money people faith. Right or wrong….Put that book down and look at what your doing to really help suffering. Open your eyes and open your hearts God doesn’t need a temple, help people with all that money.

  8. RICH LEWIS says:

    When I was young I didn’t have a father, I had a brother commit suicide, I’ve been set on fire and them I had a finger ripped off my body. And always been ugly. GOD has failed me. I wish I was never born. If GOD loves us so much then why all this cruelty in this world, that doesn’t seam fair. If your a ugly man and short and not rich, you don’t much out of this world besides being laugh at. I’m to ugly for love and always been, The day my finger was ripped off I looked up and said REALLY GOD THE FIRE WASN’T ENOUGH YOU HAD TO TAKE MY FINGER, I was truly mad I hated god for the first time on his cruel acts I’ve seen and felt. Now I realize that I will never have anything good come my way. UGLY FOR LIFE GOD’S GIFT TO ME

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rich,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about all of your struggles with loss and physical disfigurement. As the above article says, it certainly does put you at a major disadvantage here on earth. But as the article also says, it doesn’t put you at any spiritual disadvantage. If you choose to do the best you can with the cards you have been dealt, then in eternity you will be better off than “beautiful people” who just coast along and do nothing particularly good with their lives.

      I would also point out that it was not God who burned you or ripped off your finger. That was (presumably) done to you by other human beings, or perhaps by machinery or an accident. However, I understand that you could be angry at God for allowing the world to be this way. To gain some understanding of this unfortunate reality, I recommend that you start with this article:

      If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?

      Meanwhile, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  9. Rob says:

    If GOD loved me than why did GOD only give me a ugly world. When your a guy and your short and ugly there is not much point in thinking you have much chance in having a normal life. Ask your wife or most women what they think. The word creep comes in all the time, you are judged on how you look whether you like it or not. A short man can be cute a short ugly man people don’t take serious. Why did GOD put me in this body did I do something wrong. The truth about being ugly it’s going to be lonely guy or girl. Confidence comes from success an a lack of success creates failure this is the life of someone born ugly. That’s what is not fair the extra negatives, life is hard enough for all of us.

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