The Beautiful Woman Syndrome

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The Beautiful Woman Syndrome (BWS) is a term coined by Pick-Up Artists (PUA; a male seduction community) for an undesirable condition that affects people with unusually good looks. The term was originally a parody and referred to women, but can to a lesser extent also apply to men with an above-average appearance. When applied to men it is called the Beautiful Man Syndrome.

Most people will have a close encounter with someone suffering from BWS. But most will not recognize the symptoms, nor will they usually care until they are personally hurt or offended by the BWS-er.

Characteristics of the Beautiful Woman/Man Syndrome include:

  • Little intellectual development and personality. Those suffering from the syndrome are used to getting by in life on their appearance alone. Because they were never pressed to develop personal qualities, conversation with a person suffering from BWS is uninspiring.
  • justin-timberlakeTreats people they perceive as less attractive as if they are inferior. Associates mainly or only with those they think are as attractive as them, or of the same social class.
  • Despite lack of development, an overestimation of personal qualities such as intelligence, charm, and friendliness.
  • Inability to appreciate good qualities in less attractive people; belief that the only admirable trait in a person is beauty (or money/social position).
  • Dislike of hard or dirty work. The BWS-er thinks they are above that: others should help them or give them what they want.
  • Little tolerance for disagreement. The BWS-er demands that others treat them admiringly because, well, they are gorgeous and clearly superior.

All good-looking people are not afflicted with BWS. However, most beautiful people are prone to acquiring the syndrome if given excessive attention and admiration on a regular basis.

If you come across a person suffering from BWS, the best action to take is to treat them like you would any other person. Do not stare, stumble over yourself trying to gain their attention, or compliment them. This behavior only adds to the BWS by confirming to the sufferer that they are indeed as outstanding as they believe. The syndrome can only be cured by the BWS-er realizing they are a mere mortal like everyone else.

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8 thoughts on “The Beautiful Woman Syndrome

  1. There seems to be some truth to this. It’s all a consequence of “beauty privilege” or whatever is called. These people (especially women- but with the rise of feminism, men too) are admired solely for their physical appearance. That makes them lazy. If you don’t need to work hard to get something, why would you? Would you even be able to understand what “working hard” means? <- This goes for any privileged group.

    That being said, BWS (fe)males don't really have to be THAT gorgeous. All it takes is others to see them that way. This is evident in movie stars: there are so many actresses (and actors) who are considered to be gorgeous, but I honestly don’t understand why, and I know I’m not alone in this. The latest example (for me) is Olivia Wilde. She’s a good looking woman, but she’s not THAT gorgeous- and people, male and female, praise her looks and call her “the most beautiful woman in the world”. True, beauty is subjective, and I don’t even know if this actress has BWS.

    All I’m saying is how you look is, paradoxically, not as important as you might think: all you need is to be promoted by people around you (or, in this case, by media) as “super-gorgeous”. In other words, other people create BWS, and not the person herself.

    However, I must note attractive people are sometimes judged unfairly and labeled BWS (in terms of personality) even if they’re not. Just because someone’s more beautiful, or successful, or has a better social or love life, doesn’t necessarily mean she has a BWS personality. Maybe you’re the one who envy her? Maybe you’re projecting your insecurities on her?

  2. Mira,

    “There seems to be some truth to this.”

    Indeed, indeed!

    “BWS (fe)males don’t really have to be THAT gorgeous. All it takes is others to see them that way.”

    Right. Of course, some will say: “If lots of people think it, it must be true” or “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: beholders determine who is beautiful”. Or some other such nonsense.

    “The latest example (for me) is Olivia Wilde.”

    She’s called “the most beautiful woman in the world”? I had no idea. I definitely don’t agree. She’s interesting-looking, for sure, but I wouldn’t say she’s the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.

    “all you need is to be promoted by people around you (or, in this case, by media) as “super-gorgeous.

    Exactly why people should not go overboard with complimenting a good-looking person. It’s what creates the condition in the first place.

    “However, I must note attractive people are sometimes judged unfairly and labeled BWS (in terms of personality) even if they’re not.”

    True. Some people assume all very beautiful people have BWS, but some good-looking people are remarkably down-to-earth and intelligent. In many of these cases, the beautiful person wasn’t always that way, but either grew into their looks and/or got a make-over which catapulted them to “hotness”.

  3. She’s called that? I had no idea.

    Yes. Just take a look at any “Tron: Legacy” discussion… Everybody talks about her (and how crappy the film was, lol) You found a perfect word: she is interesting, but I wouldn’t call her gorgeous (once again, way too strong jaw, which I don’t consider feminine). There are girls I know who look better than her: ordinary girls. It’s even worse for (white) blondes: they don’t even have to be conventionally cute or pretty to be considered gorgeous.

    And yes, the same can be said about men. There are so many actors and singers promoted as “hot” and I certainly don’t get their appeal. Media seems to like 1-2 types at the time, and only those who fit them are promoted as hot. The problem is, media has a huge influence on ordinary people and their standards. It’s not really about what type is considered beautiful, but the fact there is usually only ONE type.

    Exactly why people should not go overboard with complimenting a good-looking person. It’s what creates the condition in the first place.

    Of course. Nobody develops BWS, or its counterpart (low self-esteem) out of nowhere. For example, I had no idea my butt and hips were considered ugly and unattractive until people started pointing that at me, repeatedly, and it’s difficult to get rid of it. I guess the same goes in the opposite way- if you hear how gorgeous over and over again, it’s difficult for you to see yourself differently.

    In many of these cases, the beautiful person wasn’t always that way, but either grew into their looks and/or got a make-over which catapulted them to “hotness”.

    It does depend on a person. My husband, for example, is considered attractive, but he’s far away from BMS. He has spent his teenage years playing basketball (where you’re in constant male company) and later reading (where you’re all by yourself), and he was really shy (he still is). He didn’t grow up listening how gorgeous he is. (Plus, it’s always easier for a woman to get BWS, because it’s still expected men to be something more than just attractive, while for women, it’s enough). So shy, introverted individuals, who don’t socialize much don’t develop BWS because they don’t constantly listen how gorgeous they are.

  4. Mira,

    “It’s even worse for (white) blondes: they don’t even have to be conventionally cute or pretty to be considered gorgeous.”

    It’s quite peculiar. Just be born white and buy a bottle of bleach and presto! Your the hotness. I don’t know, I just find the “blonde effect” quite intriguing. No single trait seems to be as determinant of widespread “hot” status than blonde hair.

    …shy, introverted individuals, who don’t socialize much don’t develop BWS because they don’t constantly listen how gorgeous they are.”

    True. Good-looking introverted people are much less likely to be afflicted. But even they are prone, if they ever venture into the world (which even they have to, sometimes).

  5. No single trait seems to be as determinant of widespread “hot” status than blonde hair.

    Indeed, but I may add: only for women. Blonde men are not seen as hot as their female counterparts.

    There’s another trait I can think of (at least for whites): blue and green eyes. As far as I understand, the only reason they (this gene combination (mutation?) ) still exist is because humans wanted to reproduce with blue and green eyed individuals at great number, so they were able to pass these genes. Blue and green eyes are more sensitive to light, and there’s no evolutionary advantage in them- but they still exist just like male birds with bright feathers exist despite being a perfect prey: they are attractive and others want to mate with them, so they are able to pass on their genes.

    Good-looking introverted people are much less likely to be afflicted. But even they are prone, if they ever venture into the world (which even they have to, sometimes).

    I think most (I won’t say “all”, but definitely the great majority) of people are prone to this. It seems to be universal for humans. An anecdotal evidence: a friend of mine, who was considered unattractive, was praised because of her looks when she was in America. It did change her (not to the point of BWS, but it did change her). It changed her so much that she developed an eating disorder when she came back and people, once again, started seeing her as unattractive.

  6. Mira,

    “Indeed, but I may add: only for women. Blonde men are not seen as hot as their female counterparts.”

    Of course. Which is sad on one hand, but good on the other since it has kept hot blond guys from developing BMS. 😉

    “Blue and green eyes are more sensitive to light, and there’s no evolutionary advantage in them”

    Well according to some evolutionary biologists, since light eyes are associated with light skin, they developed in colder, darker places as a response to the need for vitamin D production.

    “I think most (I won’t say “all”, but definitely the great majority) of people are prone to this.”

    True, but the average person won’t hear about how beautiful they are, day in and day out.

  7. Of course. Which is sad on one hand, but good on the other since it has kept hot blond guys from developing BMS. 😉

    It definitely has its advantages (finding a handsome guy without BMS). 😀

    True, but the average person won’t hear about how beautiful they are, day in and day out.

    Yes, but what I’m saying is, we should all be aware it’s more universal than we might think. If you admit to yourself you’d get carried away if you were considered gorgeous, it’s less likely you’ll hate BWS individuals or see yourself as superior to them (remember, there’s a parallel syndrome but for intelligence- people who think they are the most intelligent and/educated people on the face of the Earth; and that the rest of the people are inferior to them).

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