Jane Curnow is slim, blonde and beautiful. To an outsider, she physically has it all. For her personally, it’s been a long road to self-confidence. Along the way, she’s found that being attractive can be pretty ugly.
“After my second marriage ended, I entered the single scene and quickly realized just how much attention men were giving me,” she said. “I’d get constant looks and comments and felt like men were undressing me with their eyes.
“Women were (and still are) jealous and resentful towards me but, at the time, I didn’t put it down to my looks and their own insecurities.”
While jealousy towards Curnow became the norm, she never expected it to extend to her friends.
“I’ve lost many friends and always thought it was my fault,” she said. “I didn’t attribute it to my looks until my 30s when so-called friends walked out on me in bars because of the male attention I received.”
At the age of 32 and after years of suffering, Curnow was diagnosed with depression.
By the age of 40 — still single and childless — she believed her life was over. It wasn’t until she recovered, that she realized how much her appearance had impacted on this mindset.
“On reflection, I realized the power of my appearance, but the resulting feelings were not of pride or happiness but of incredible pressure,” Curnow said.
“I asked myself; If I’m as good looking as everyone says, then why am I so unhappy? Why aren’t I living the dream?”
With friends, family and professionals telling her she was beautiful, Curnow became obsessed with maintaining her figure and looks to achieve happiness. She quickly learned that was not the answer.
“If you don’t love yourself without the body and looks, this doesn’t change when you do. In fact, it only highlights how much you hate the person inside,” Curnow said. “You end up attaching your self-worth to the outside which is the wrong way around.”
Working as a fitness model and lifestyle coach, she is now empowering other women to find and embrace their inner and outer beauty, in the way that she finally has.
Unlike MCurnow, author and confidence coach Katinda Ndola, 44, embraced her beauty from a young age. She described herself as a woman many women love to hate.
“I became aware of my looks in my teens and felt so confident that I went to modeling school,” she said. “Beauty is the bomb and, if you’re lucky enough to have it, it’s like winning the genetic lottery.”
Conversely, Ndola said her looks caused her to be cautious of people’s intentions when she first met them and she was aware that women felt threatened and men found her intimidating.
She was also conscious that people assumed her success was down to her looks, rather than talent. Despite this, Ndola refused to change and said she wouldn’t lower her standards for others.
“I’ve made myself happy with who I am and what I look like and if I change that in any way then I would just be unhappy,” she said.
Research has suggested how appearance positively impacted on success and happiness.
A series of experiments by the University of Michigan found that good looks equated to better pay and better social skills, as well as being perceived as more capable by employers.
Similarly, another study found that physically attractive people were perceived as more dominant, sexually warmer, mentally healthier and more intelligent than physically unattractive people.h this new crop of autumn fragrances
Yet, there was very little literature or research around the disadvantages of beauty, perpetuating the idea that all that glitters is indeed gold. Subsequently, our perception of people’s looks can be skewed.
“We’re very visual people and it only takes a few seconds for people to make their minds up about us,” health and wellbeing psychologist, Marny Lishman, said.
“When people automatically don’t like a person, based on their looks, it could be for a variety of reasons from feeling threatened or intimidated through to a bias acquired through their life.”
Lishman noted that both sexes could be judged on appearance. However, it was more strongly reflected in women in a negative way. For men, it tended to be more of an advantage personally and professionally.
“Attractive women can be discriminated against and disrespected at work. They might not be taken seriously or receive the recognition they deserve,” Lishman said.
“They can also become lonely as friends can sometimes get jealous, or potential friends may get too intimidated.”
Lishman said that, if you were in this situation, it was best to try not to take it personally when you’re discriminated against. Remember it’s often about the other person and their own ego, not you.
Similarly, she said that if you’re personally not feeling that you’re being treated well by others, then they’re not the right people for you.
“Find a new set of people that make you feel good and stick with them,” Lishman said. “Beauty is about feeling good about yourself on the inside, as well as the out.”