There are probably very few people in the world who have not heard of Susan Boyle, a lady from Scotland, whose video now has been seen by multiplied millions of people around the world. I am included in that number. susan-boyle-pic-smSomeone directed my attention to the work, and I cannot tell you how many times I have watched it since the first.  It is riveting…jaw-dropping. I could not find a site that allows embedding, but please click on this link and watch an incredible showing of talent. Then come back here and let’s talk about something.

After watching this video, especially the reaction of the judges and some of the audience before she sang, it struck me how peculiar it is that the expectation of her talent and performance seemed to be strongly influenced by her appearance. How has come to our minds the concept that extraordinary talent and ability will always be housed in a body beautiful, or in a suave and debonair demeanor? (A personal disclaimer: Probably because I am 70 years old and because I lean toward conservative dress myself, I did not find her appearance particularly unusual or unsavory, nor do I think it odd that rare talent rests in such a person.) Such thinking puzzles me. The mindset of the judges seemed to reveal thoughts that talent is connected with beauty, or at least with fashionable clothing, youthful appearance, modern hair styling and thinned eyebrows. Note eye-rolling and smirkiness before they heard her sing.

My favorite part of the video is when, mere seconds into her performance, the audience as one, rises to its feet, cheering and clapping, and the judges’ faces morph from sarcasm to shock to recognition and, finally, admiration. They at last understand they are in the presence of genius, of Susan Boyle who is gifted with an incredible, magnificent voice.

My case here is not that Susan Boyle was rejected because of her appearance; quite the opposite is true, for once the audience and the judges heard her soaring voice, the way she looked and dressed and acted were secondary. My question is: Why, at the first, is talent thought to be connected to beauty and to a certain hair or clothing style?

Appearance does matter, I know that, and quite honestly I, like many people, am attracted to beauty. When I see a strikingly beautiful child or adult, I sometimes stare (try to do it discreetly), and often I analyze my own thoughts: What is it about a slight difference in the curve of a face or the lay of eyes or the nose shape on a person that causes us to declare beauty? So I understand the appreciation of beauty–in people and in nature. What I do not get is how it can be thought that talent or ability is connected to the visual appearance of persons, and why merely looking at them, I would express sarcasm or skepticism concerning their abilities.

Taking the issue of appearance a bit further, though this is much different, is the story of Connie Culp who in recent days has come forward Face Transplantto reveal that she is the person who has had a complete face transplant. I’ve brought pictures and links to the full story and think you will find this intriguing.

I’m interested in your opinions about this subject. How important is appearance to you? Be honest. Would you be more attracted to Connie as she appeared before her gruesome injury? In all honesty, I believe I would be, but I don’t think I would expect her to be more or less talented depending on which face she presented. Appearances are definitely important. I look at the multiple images of Connie and she does not look to be the same person. But she is. (Although surely this experience has changed her in many ways.) Her basic personality, intellect, gifts and abilities are still the same. When she speaks, her sense of humor and delightful nature still shines.

Recipient of First-Ever Full Face Transplant Speaks

CLEVELAND (AP) – Five years ago, a shotgun blast left a ghastly hole where the middle of her face had been. Five months ago, she received a new face from a dead woman. Connie Culp stepped forward Tuesday to show off the results of the nation’s first face transplant, and her new look was a far cry from the puckered, noseless sight that made children run away in horror.Culp’s expressions are still a culp1bit wooden, but she can talk, smile, smell and taste her food again. Her speech is at times a little tough to understand. Her face is bloated and squarish, and her skin droops in big folds that doctors plan to pare away as her circulation improves and her nerves grow, animating her new muscles.

But Culp had nothing but praise for those who made her new face possible.

“I guess I’m the one you came to see today,” the 46-year-old Ohio woman said at a news conference at the Cleveland Clinic, where the groundbreaking operation was performed. But “I think it’s more important that you focus on the donor family that made it so I could have this person’s face.”

Up until Tuesday, Culp’s identity and how she came to be disfigured were a secret.

Culp’s husband, Thomas, shot her in 2004, then turned the gun on himself. He went to prison for seven years. His wife was left clinging to life. The blast shattered her nose, cheeks, the roof of her mouth and an eye. Hundreds of fragments of shotgun pellet and bone splinters were embedded in her face. She needed a tube into her windpipe to breathe. Only her upper eyelids, forehead, lower lip and chin were left.

Source: Breitbart.com

8 thoughts on “Look

  1. Refired Parson

    …..fantastically talented….wonderfully good looking….tremendously charming…. W H E W… WHAT HAPPENDED TO THE REST OF US, KK?


  2. Jana McVay

    Reading Janelle’s response, I immediately thought of a song I just recently have had the pleasure of being introduced. It is from the musical “South Pacific.” The title? “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”

    The song is a tongue in cheek look at how we gain our “perceptions” of people different from ourselves. We are taught our prejudices when we are young by our parents and other influential people in our lives. Sadly, we struggle to overcome those perceptions/prejudices as adults.

    The U.S. prides itself on individuality, yet you have shown that uniqueness/differences still are governed by our rule of beauty first before ability. One of the non-verbal communication elements is Clothing/Appearance. We judge people initially on how pretty, skinny, or well-dressed they are at first glance. If we are not aware of this, that first impression can make the difference between a relationship with an interesting person or lack of relationship with a lackluster, boring individual.

    Our society seems to feed off of other people’s humiliation in front of the camera’s of American Idol and other reality shows. The worse someone is, while they seem to believe they truly have ability, the better. The more foolish someone acts, the funner it is to mock them and get a good laugh from their antics. No wonder we have so many depressed people in the world…they have been mocked and belittled to the point that they have no self-worth anymore.


  3. Kris Keyes

    The Paul Potts one was good….the Susan Boyle one was fantastic….it seemed a triumph for just down to earth folks….although her voice is anything but down to earth….just goes to show that there are hidden talents everywhere.

    Of course as for me I am fantastically talented and wonderfully good looking too…not to mention tremendously charming, and so on, etc, etc…

    Dont let Refired Parson comment on this please….:-)


  4. I heard about a study done with 2 year olds. They were put in a room with attractive and not so attractive people, even the 2 year olds gravitated to the beautiful people….strange huh?

    Made me think about our Lord He had no form or comliness….He wasnt good looking, in fact He made a point to renounce carnal human fleshly beauty. He spent His life teaching us that the things we elevate are not important. Looks, materialism….

    One more thought on American Idol/BGT, there is something disturbing about watching people with NO talent make fools of themselves and then to call it entertainment? How does that show edify? I mean I watched and enjoyed Paul Potts and Susan Boyles on You Tube but it is sad to see that the highest rated show on TV is basically about laughing and mocking people who dont know they arent talented.

    Since I’m not a regular TV watcher, I am not as familiar with these “idol” programs as are many other people, although of course I have heard about them, and the YouTube link I created here was taken from one of those shows. I did not know that the “the highest rated show on TV is basically about laughing and mocking people who dont know they arent talented.” That is very sad.


  5. I wish I was a psychologist, because I might have a better response to this post. I think that we’re “taught” through social behaviors that beauty is linked with success, and also that something that is considered not as pretty (or very ugly) is to be ignored because we have a fear of becoming that ourselves. I really don’t know if that makes sense, but in college we were taught about “learned behaviors” and this is one of them.
    Babies don’t have that learned behavior yet, and Jesus never discriminated like that. Sometimes I think we all face a challenge of acting like a person is perfectly great and normal when inside we’re slightly repulsed–even though we have great compassion!
    As for Susan Boyle, I think she’s in an entirely different category. I don’t think she’s ugly or her outfit was horrible either; it’s just more in her attitude I think. She’s not an invalid in anyway, she was spunky on stage and didn’t really let her nervousness show too much.
    This attitude, coupled with the fact that she didn’t seem to put much stock in appearance, is unusual for television people. Susan obviously dressed nice, but she didn’t run out and get a makeover before coming on the program, and that’s probably rare.
    If you get a chance, you should watch the American one on Paul Potts. Every time I watch it, it brings tears to my eyes. Same thing: the judges have a very skeptical reaction when he walks on the stage, frightened. Then he opens his operatic voice up and the place explodes. The humble attitude, the “regular guy” persona, all of that make you think he hasn’t any special talent. Strange, isn’t it? (By the way, Paul Potts and Susan Boyle are scheduled to go on tour together!)

    Thanks for your response, Janell, and your recommendation. I’ll check YouTube for Paul Potts.


  6. The main thing I wondered when I saw these same pictures last night was this: Why did her hair look full and styled before the disfigurement and now???

    It looks like she hasn’t washed it for four years. Her nose got shot off, but shampoo still existed. Why not use some then make the comparison?

    Like the before and after shots that make it look as though the product being sold will perform miracles, these picture have more than one variable. They are not a fair comparison.

    I feel like they play with my emotions.

    Please note: This is my reaction to her “looks.” I am thrilled that a woman, disfigured though no fault of her own, is able to have surgery that will give her a bit of normalcy. Having a face is important.


  7. We all are equally guilty of that, first impression. Having spent my life in either sales or management it has been pounded into me, “The first five seconds is where you win or lose!” So, the first look, your suit, you hair, your smile and that all important handshake. Do I agree with these philosophies now? I like you have aged a little. NO! Yet, I have caught myself in that trap more times than I like. There is an interesting book on the market titled, “Blink,” great read on the power of the first impression. The author covers everything from food packaging to war games to the police. They have a web site that is a very interesting game to play on the first impression.


    Hi, Mervi. I agree with you about the book Blink. Well worth the read.


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