Excerpt: 'You: Being Beautiful'

The logic behind all these myths argues that external beauty is unimportant, most likely misleading, and at best relevant only until more useful information becomes available. But we have three words for these three clichés: wrong, wrong, wrong. Scientific study after study shows that these popular principles are more myth than reality.

In fact, research shows that human beings have evolved universal standards of beauty, both within and across cultures. Research also shows that attractive people are judged more positively than unattractive people—even when there's other information available about them. The data show that more attractive people are judged to be better liked, more competent, and more exciting (all by about a two-to-one margin). Research also indicates that external beauty is linked to personality and behavior.

Though there are biological and social influences on beauty, it does seem that being deemed attractive creates a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that reinforces and internalizes certain behaviors and self-concepts. And guess what? Most of these crucial factors are ones you can change for the better.

In YOU: Being Beautiful, we're going to share with you the biology of beauty, as well as what you can do to be your most beautiful self by making choices and taking actions that will help you look the way you want, and most important, feel and be the way you want.

We're going to clarify what beauty really is—and give you the tools to become healthier and happier by paying a little more attention to it. How? We're going to chop up beauty into three distinct pieces—pieces that will give you a perspective that may change the way others view you and, ultimately, the way you view the world. These three hunks serve as the structural outline for this book.

Part 1:

Looking Beautiful: You don't have to be a screen star to know that outer beauty matters. Simply, appearance is the proxy—the instant message to others—for youth, fertility, and health. In this section, we'll explore some of the ways that you can improve your looks when it comes to such things as your skin, your hair, and your body shape. Most of all, these things are important because how you look partly helps determine how you feel.

Part 2:

Feeling Beautiful: There's no doubt in our minds that looking like diamonds doesn't mean squat if you feel like a wooden nickel. You can have the best hair, skin, and butt this side of Kalamazoo, but if you lack energy or your knees creak or you're sadder than a leashed kitty, then all the outward magnetism you may have will be obscured—and fade fast. Here we'll take a look at the big things that can keep you from feeling beautiful—things like fatigue and chronic pain and destructive attitudes—so you can help turn the blues into, well, hot pinks or purples.

Part 3:

Being Beautiful: Though you may assume that we'd be imposing morality in a section about "being beautiful," we're not really talking about behaviors here. We're not here to tell you what's right and wrong but to explain how to take your life one step deeper—to find a more authentic and happier you in your life and relationships—and how to use different strategies to do so.

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