FRESH HELL: Know thyself: How hot are you really?

I don’t know what sparked celebrity doppelgänger week on Facebook, but I loved it. I had to keep enlarging people’s pictures to make sure they hadn’t suddenly gotten a lot more attractive.

It’s hilarious that everyone’s idea of a doppelgänger is someone who has the same complexion, but is a few points more attractive on a 10-point scale. I’m not immune to this phenomenon. A friend recently showed me a picture of some little-known actress and crowed “Twins!” I immediately started pointing out our differences instead of seeing the obvious similarities. This was largely because the actress was a decent “six” and I like to think that I’m a Spinal Tap-style “11.” Yes, this makes me insufferably vain, but it also leads me to an interesting thought: no one can see themselves objectively.

Doppelgängers are a great example of how no one has any idea what they are really like, both in looks and in personality. At this point in our lives, we are mixtures of mysterious bad habits, prejudices, and various hairstyles. Our looks and our personalities are mutable and in flux, so it’s not surprising that they’re hard to get a grip on. Obviously, people with eating or body dysmorphic disorders are extreme and terrifying examples, but everyone has a touch of funhouse mirror in their self-conception.

Surely some of the warped ideas about how we look comes from the media and its incessant hum of “thinner, fitter, smoother, younger.” On a smaller scale, though, McGill’s a scary measuring stick for girls and an okay one for boys. On average, girls are pretty high “sevens” and guys are decent “sixes.” A peer group this hot totally skews self-perception. Context matters, too – for example, outside of McGill your Coupe Bizzare haircut may drop you down a few points.

While it’s relatively easy to get people to deem you “hot or not,” it’s much harder to have them gauge your temperament (positive traits are notoriously biased towards attractive people, as social scientists will tell you). At least some of our delusions about our personalities must come from our coping mechanisms. For example, I know a couple of people who, after having been mocked or reprimanded many times for their fatness, meanness, or loudness, decided to champion that trait in an anti-authoritarian assertion of their individuality. This only compounds a bad trait. If other people comment on your flaws enough for you to have to defend them so flamboyantly, you may want to rethink how you’re acting. I guarantee no one wants to have an unapologetically fat, mean, and loud friend give a toast at their wedding. (Particularly if they think they’re funny, as they so often do.)

So, basically, I’m copping the Greeks: it pays to know thyself. It’s hard to do, but the initial steps are easy. Acknowledge your flaws instead of championing them, and knock yourself up a point – the McGill milieu is way more fly than the real world.

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