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Beauty Is Best

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"Nobody cares about the talent. There's only one talent you care about, and that's the look talent. You don't give a shit if a girl can play a violin like the greatest violinist in the world. You want to know what does she look like."

A character, characters, or society that value someone's outward appearance of physical beauty over other attributes.

Say you have Alice. Alice is very pretty, but she's also adept at Waif-Fu, The Heart, and an Academic Athlete. Here there are a few ways this can go:

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  1. Alice acknowledges that she is talented in other areas, but focuses on her own beauty and considers it both her defining trait as well as the be-all, end-all.
  2. Alice would happily excel in any of her other talents, but the opinions of Betty and Charlie suggest that they believe honing her image (and she doesn't have to be pretty to start with) is the only route.
  3. Alice, Betty, Charlie, etc. all realise that even if they have other talents, their society notices beauty first and (often sadly) give up on their other aspirations.

In short, this trope is not characters preferring beautiful people, rather them having the opinion that out of all attributes, the one to value most is the concept of outer beauty.

If used in a major plot line, expect the characters who believe that Beauty Is Best to face An Aesop reminding them that it isn't.

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Characters in a society that believes this may be Alpha Bitches or Jerk Jocks and get away with it because they are The Beautiful Elite. Can crossover with Brainless Beauty when a character is Obfuscating Stupidity having taken this trope too far; most times a character will not quash their intelligence/athleticism/kindness, just overemphasise their appearance.

This trope has targets that are usually Always Female, but it is not unheard of for it to apply to boys and men, too. Though it may be the men who think that Beauty Is Best, don't hold your breath that their expectations should extend to men as well.

It is also sometimes invoked by video games, where it makes choosing your character as the pretty girl the game's Easy Mode.

In general, the stereotype of the Ojou plays this trope straight (sometimes with Noblewoman's Laugh included), as besides being rich and well-educated, having beauty serves as the final elite factor above all the rest of the people to give a kind of extra status. In Western media, the School Idol also usually plays this straight, being the High School all-rounder topped up with that extra bit of beauty.

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See also Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!. Contrast True Beauty Is on the Inside and Ability over Appearance. Compare Hired for Their Looks and All Guys Want Cheerleaders (which usually works on this principle). Naturally, this trope is one of the most Common Mary Sue Traits.

See I Just Want to Be Beautiful for examples of "unattractive" characters' storylines invoking this trope, and Looks Worth Killing For for the storyline's extreme.

Not related to Beauty Is Bad.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece: Within the tribe, the stronger a Kuja is, the more she's considered as beautiful, regardless of her looks. Boa Hancock, however, is not only the strongest woman of the Kuja, but also one of the two most beautiful women in the world. Hancock will always use her beauty to get away with things she doesn't want or seduce people to turn them into stone with her Devil Fruit abilities, which only work on people who love her. Her Catch Phrase is also "Why, you ask? Why, it is because I am beautiful". Luffy is the first one not to fall for her beauty, which she initially thought to be impossible.
  • Queen Nehellennia of Sailor Moon became the villain of the SuperS season by growing up with a Friendless Background but radiant beauty. As a result, she was convinced her beauty was the only thing she had of value, and went to desperate lengths to preserve it.

    Film 
  • The Innocents - many people manage to get away with taking advantage of Miss Giddens by flattering her beauty.
  • Sucker Punch's heroine Baby Doll is established as a loyal and fiercely protective guardian to her younger sister, as well as resourceful and imaginative. However, her youthful looks that make her resemble The Ingenue are a source of fetishization from a corrupt orderly in the mental hospital she's in. She has to exploit this - dancing sexily to distract lecherous men - in order to steal items she needs to be free.
  • Jessie of The Neon Demon lists through all the flaws and lack of skills she has to make it in life, but notes that she is pretty and "I can make money off pretty". Of course when she does make it as a supermodel, things go From Bad to Worse.

    Light Novel 

    Literature 

  • In A Song of Ice and Fire Sansa starts as this. She adores Joffrey, simply because he is very handsome (and a prince) and ignores him being very cruel, got her pet wolf killed and even tried to kill her sister. She also likes queen Cersei because of her beauty. She changes, however, throughout the series when she notices how beautiful people like Joffrey and Cersei keep hurting her, while ugly and disfigured people like Tyrion and Sandor Clegane try to protect her.
  • Princess Langwidere of Ev from Ozma of Oz (sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) is so narcisistic that she has a collection of 30 heads she can swap at will. Each of the heads is beautiful, with flawless skin and perfect hair, and Langwidere is so vain she spends hours on hours sitting in a mirrored chamber and admiring whatever head is on her shoulders at the moment - to the detriment of her duties as the default regent of Ev. After initially dismissing Dorothy as "boring and stupid," she offered to trade Dorothy's head for one of her own, and has the little girl imprisoned when she refuses.
    "Princess Langwidere looked at Dorothy and said, as if talking to herself: You are rather attractive, not at all beautiful you understand...but, you have a certain style of prettiness, that is different from that of any of my thirty heads. I believe I'll take your head, and give you number twenty-six for it!"
  • Pride and Prejudice:
    • It's said that Mrs Bennett was very pretty in her youth and Mr Bennett married her mostly for this reason - only to discover over the years that she was vapid, shallow, self-centered and insufferable. Her parent's unhappy marriage is one of the reasons Lizzie would prefer to Marry for Love.
    • Lizzie herself is often compared to her more beautiful older sister Jane, who is loved by all (this is partly because she's such a sweet person that people flock to her) and indeed the initial conflict between her and Mr Darcy comes when she overhears him calling her "not handsome enough to tempt me". The point of the story is that Lizzie is more flawed but overlooking flaws in the other person to see their virtues is the key to true love.
  • Hedy Lamarr - an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood - wrote about this in her autobiography. She was actually quite the genius - helping develop the technology that would eventually become cellphones and wifi. But it was World War II and she was instead used to sell war bonds, and spent most of her life having her beauty valued over her mind.
    "My face has been my misfortune."
  • Helen of I Know What You Did Last Summer recalls taking a look at herself in the mirror one day, analysing her flaws and seeing if she could work with them. She dieted to achieve a slimmer figure, used rinses to bring out the colour in her blonde hair and learned how to apply flattering make-up. She's then able to live by herself in a nice apartment at the age of nineteen because she wins a contest to become the local weather girl. She doesn't know if she's able to do anything else in life because she's only ever been valued for her beauty.
  • Mara Wilson in her autobiography has a section (titled The C Word) detailing how she noticed as she was getting older, she wasn't growing up to be beautiful enough to be a Hollywood actress. She admits that she's not bad looking but knows "an actress needs to be attractive to eight out of ten people", and for the longest time considers cosmetic surgery so she can play the Hollywood Homely best friend roles. Ultimately she decided to live with her natural appearance, which she then lists things she likes about.

    Live-Action TV 

  • The Big Bad of Season 2 of Agent Carter is Whitney Frost - a Child Prodigy from humble roots who had to rely on her looks to succeed and become a Hollywood star.
  • Game of Thrones has a plot point where Robb Stark is betrothed to a daughter of Walder Frey - who is known for having legendarily ugly children. While fighting in the war, he falls in love with a beautiful field nurse called Talisa, and breaks the marriage promise to marry Talisa instead. His attempt at making amends to Walder Frey leads to him, Talisa, his mother and their bannermen slaughtered in a trap. Walder Frey also takes the time to taunt Robb that he broke his promise for "big tits and a tight fit".
  • Glee:
    • Quinn is shown as very intelligent and athletic, as well as having great emotional depth and talent in gymnastics, dance, acting, and singing. But she just wants to be the prettiest girl there could ever be, and defines her worth this way (before Character Development hit, and it's justified in Season 2 when it's shown that as a child her sister was the pretty one and so got all their father's affection).
    • When given the opportunity, Rachel considers having a nose job because she is embarrassed by her Jewish nose (for a short while) but quickly learns that her talent outshines her schnoz.

    Music 

  • The HKT48 song "Einstein yori Dianna Agron" (Albert Einstein < Dianna Agron), which is a song about how they'd rather focus on being a beauty (Agron) than a genius (Einstein).
    "More than Einstein, Dianna Agron matters/ More than test marks, I care about the size of my eyes"

    Mythology and Religion 

  • Paris picks Aphrodite (love and beauty) over Athena (wisdom) and Hera (power). However, he actually chooses her because she tells him she can get his true love to fall for him, but everyone thinks it's for her beauty.

    Theatre 

  • In Evgeny Schwartz's play The Emperor's New Clothes, the hero tries to prevent a princess he loves from being married to the titular emperor. So, he and his friend create an impression she is actually of low birth (the emperor is A Nazi by Any Other Name, talking alot about race and nobility), teach her to curse... but once she appears in front of the man, he pays no attention to her cursing and merely shouts "I've heard nothing! I've only seen! I'm going to marry her, even if the whole world is against it."

    Video Games 

  • Crusader Kings is an RPG/Strategy game hybrid in which you play as a series of medieval rulers. In the game if you play as a ruler who is Just, Kind and Diligent (some of the games most popular character traits) you are still not as well liked as if you play as a young queen who is simply Attractive.
  • The city of Fawn in Ultima VII Part II values the principle of Beauty instead of the traditional Britannian principle of Love.

    Western Animation 

  • The Richard Rich directed The Swan Princess animated feature in which Princess Odette creates an awkward situation by asking Prince Derek what he likes about her besides her beauty. He asks, "What else is there?" In fact, they had the film nearly finished before test audience pointed out that Derek didn't appear to have learned to look beyond beauty - so he declares to the apparently dying Odette "I love your kindness and courage".
  • Georgette the show poodle from Disney's Oliver & Company is totally absorbed in her appearance, justified in that she can rightfully boast being "six-time Grand National Champion!" As part of the rescue party aiming to recover Jenny from The Villain's clutches, she's mostly The Load.

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