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Older and wiser ... and prettier too?

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who thinks they’re the fairest of them all? The answer may surprise you.

According to a new Gallup poll, America’s seniors are the most confident about their looks. Sixty-six percent of Americans ages 65 and older “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they always feel good about their physical appearance. Only 61 percent of Americans ages 18-34, and a mere 54 percent of middle-aged Americans, said the same.

The study was conducted on a five-point scale, and participants were asked to respond with a number 1 to 5 in regards to this statement: You always feel good about your physical appearance.

While seniors were the standout group of confidence, Gallup also found that men are more likely to say they feel good about their looks. The percent of men that said they were happy with their appearance was consistently higher than the number of women who agreed, though the dip during middle age still occurred for men.

Overall, around 58 percent of Americans said they always feel good about their looks, responding with a four or a five on the scale. 27 percent said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement, and only 15 percent responded with a 1 or a 2.

So which ethnicity is the most confident in their looks? Blacks, Hispanics and Asians of all ages were more likely to feel confident in their looks when compared to whites, with blacks coming in with the most confidence. Caucasians are the only group who had a significant dip in middle age; the other ethnicities stay consistent from 18 on and rise significantly in confidence at age 65.

This desire to be perceived as attractive isn’t ill-founded. Studies have shown that attractive people have better results in social and business situations. This concern about looks fuels a huge part of the United States economy — from clothing to makeup, hair care to weight control and of course, plastic surgery. With a little less than half of Americans saying they don’t feel confident in their physical appearance, it’s no wonder this section of the economy is consistently growing.

This study didn’t measure the actual physical appeal of a person, so there’s no telling how accurate American’s confidence is in their looks compared to reality. It has been found though, that a different set of social expectations and standards comes as we age, so it’s not surprising that older generations feel more confident.

Maybe this will be a relief to the younger members of society: They can look forward to feeling beautiful when they’re just a little bit older.



Madeleine Richards can be reached on Twitter at @MRoseRichards or through email at mrose.richards@gmail.com.

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