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We Think We're Pretty Hot Stuff

February 25, 2001|CRAIG STOLTZ | WASHINGTON POST

In findings likely to baffle only fashion advertisers and casting directors of lousy TVshows, most Americans believe their physical attractiveness peaks around age 38. This is according to a recent survey of the American public conducted on behalf of AARP by the Roper Organization. The survey was of the population at large, not just older people.

In other results, perhaps suggesting a Lake Wobegon mentality or maybe just grade inflation, the same respondents say their own looks are above average, pegging themselves at an average of 6.4 on a 10-point scale. Ninety-two percent of women and 94% of men say they are "somewhat" or "completely" satisfied with their appearance for their age.

The survey, which asked the same questions of the general public and, separately, of those who had had cosmetic surgery, reveals that those who have had lifts, tucks, implants and so on do not feel themselves better-looking than the rest of the population, even after their procedures. But more than the general public, people in this group tend to believe that physical beauty, not inner beauty, matters in the real world.

The general public is no more high-minded. It tends to think that those who have cosmetic surgery are rich, insecure and vain or materialistic.

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