When I was younger, my parents and I used to play a particularly morbid game called “How Much?” The game consisted of one of us coming up with a somewhat random and totally morally ambiguous task — i.e.: “How much would it take for you to put a chicken bone in the collection plate at church?” — and try to figure out the least amount of money that it would take for one of us to do it.
Why was it morbid? Well, the game operates under the assumption that everybody has a price, regardless of how moral or righteous you claim to be. Maybe you wouldn’t run a block around your house butt-naked for free or throw a head of lettuce at a school crossing guard for a 20, but what if someone offered you $1,000? No? How about $50,000? Exactly.
Adding to the morbidity quotient was the fact that this game was usually played while on the way to one of my Pittsburgh Diocese grade school football games. It was quite difficult looking Father Joesph in the eye 15 minutes after admitting to my parents that I’d consider hitting him with a milk-filled water balloon for $3,700.
Anyway, I was reminded of this game while talking to a friend yesterday afternoon. He mentioned that he came across a pretty attractive woman while scrolling through the “People You May Know” sidebar on his Facebook page, and he remembered that his very first thought when seeing her was “Damn. She must have a really easy life.”
I ignored the man code violation (Seriously? You see a hot chick and your first thought is “Damn, she probably never has to sweat”???), and we started a conversation about whether unattractive people should have affirmative action. I assumed that he was bringing this topic up because he’d read my piece about, um, whether “ugly” people should have affirmative action, but I soon found out that he hadn’t — an awkward moment reminding me that I’m not quite as big of a deal as I like to think I am.
Anyway, my ego recovered in time to debate whether we both believed that the more attractive a person is, the better their lives tend to be (we do), if attractive women lead the “easiest” lives (they do), and if there’s an actual tangible price on beauty (there is) — a discussion leading to an inevitable question:
“Since there are obvious long-term social, emotional, financial, and even physiological benefits to being attractive, would you pay to be more attractive?”
Basically, if you were somehow given the ability to pay money to be 25% cuter or four inches taller or four inches longer or to reshape the head you’ve always been self-conscious about or possess that hour glass frame you’ve always coveted, would you do it?
And, if so, how much would this service be worth to you?
Now, I realize that many of you will scoff at those questions, and that’s understandable. You’re happy with the hand God gave you and you’d do nothing to change it, you love yourself totally, flaws and all, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
If you feel that way, I’ll choose to believe you, and I’ll also choose to believe you’re not one of the hundreds of millions of people in this country who spend billions of dollars a year on artificial aesthetic enhancements — shoes with lifts, makeup, heels, weave, foobs, etc.
If you’re not one of those people, I’m curious: Knowing that a 15% bump in attractiveness might also give you a 15% bump in happiness and success, would you make that investment? If so, how much would you be willing to spend? I mean, if the difference between being a 5 and an 8.5 might be $800,000 in lifetime earnings, that service has to be worth at least $100,000, right?
***An extended version of “Herman Cain: Uncle Ruckus or the Baddest Motherf***er Alive?” has been published at The Good Men Project this week. Check it out of you get a chance***