According to researcher Dr. Sandie Taylor, “People who are physically attractive are assumed to be clever, successful and have more friends – it is tragic in a way.”
(The following excerpt from Hot For Convict: Is This A Mug Shot Or A Head Shot? by Jen Kim recently appeared on psychology today.com. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
Is this hunky guy a Calvin Klein model or a convicted felon?
If you guessed the latter, you’d be correct – but it isn’t preventing Jeremy Meeks, 30, from becoming a bona fide internet celebrity. His “handsome” mug shot went viral when it was posted on the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook page earlier this month. The photo boasts more than 93,000 likes and 25,000 comments – many of them peppered with heart emoticons and declarations of love. His crowdfunding page “Free Jeremy Meeks” has raised almost $4,000.
This very public outpouring of support suggests very few are bothered by Jeremy’s alleged crimes, which include a gang affiliation and connection to several shootings and robberies in the area. Records indicate he had also previously served two years in prison for grand theft.
In fact, Jeremy’s own fan page (yes, he has one!) on Facebook now has more than 143,000 likes. It’s brimming with his photos (both real and photoshopped) as well as inspirational quotes like, “If your heart was a prison, I would like to be sentenced for life.”
Research suggests Jeremy’s unusual situation is explained by the “halo effect” of attractiveness, which is our tendency to unconsciously assign attractive people with “favorable traits as talent, kindness, honesty and intelligence.” The halo effect is why we are attracted to Brad Pitt. It’s why we gravitate toward pretty, shiny objects – instead of ugly ones. It’s an inherent superficiality that we aren’t even aware we’re guilty of.
And aren’t we normally drawn to charming people? Don’t we want them to like us? Of course, we wouldn’t dream of putting them behind bars.
And it turns out we don’t.
Studies that have found that ugly defendants are more likely to be found guilty than their good-looking ones in court.
Attractive children get punished less than their less-attractive counterparts.
Teachers think good-looking children are more intelligent than their more average classmates. This unfair treatment leads kids to “have less belief in themselves, less confidence, they receive less attention…as a consequence…they achieve less.”
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that “ugly people are more often tempted – or perhaps pushed – into a life of crime than people who are physically attractive.”
When I was in third grade, we all tormented this odd-looking kid named Jared. He ate pencils in class, which was usually what we made fun of him for. But, maybe, he ate pencils, because we made fun of him. Ugh. I hate myself, sometimes.
So what will be the verdict for handsome bubble member Jeremy Meeks? Will his infamous mug shot land him in prison or with a modeling contract? The public and his adoring fans seem to hope for the latter. What do you think?