A conference organized by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Human Appearance looks at "looks," and how appearance defines who we imagine ourselves to be and how others react to us.

Sean Connery as James Bond (AP)

Reporting by Stacey Burling of The Philadelphia Inquirer about a recent "Appearance and Identity" conference dovetails perfectly with my blog article yesterday that featured the makeover of a homeless Army veteran:

All of it, in one way or another, was about the relationship between who we are inside and how we look outside. Superficial as it may seem to care deeply about our looks, the discussions made it clear that our appearance is inextricably linked with who we imagine ourselves to be and with how others react to us. "We like to have good-looking people around us and we pay for it," said Daniel Hamermesh, a University of Texas professor who studies the economics of beauty. Better-looking people are paid more. They're more likely to win elections. They're even happier.

It may not be fair, but we seem to be wired to have these prejudices.

David Sarwer, a Penn psychologist, pulls it all together succinctly:

Beauty is not just a collection of physical attributes. It is also how we dress, how we carry ourselves, our soul and the spirit we project.

So true.

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