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Almost half of Brown students identify as more attractive than their peers

Brown Bears men's ice hockey team for the 1897-8 season

By Griffin Steele

“I think I am only able to say this about myself because of a significant amount of therapy,” one sophomore who took BOP’s December poll said.

Bored in class? Sometimes the solution is to play a game to distract yourself — my favorite is “Hot or Not.” And, on average, more Brown students seem to think that they should be placed in the “hot” category.

49% of students who responded to the Brown Opinion Project’s December 2022 poll indicated that they were slightly or significantly more attractive than their peers, compared to 37% who responded that they were less attractive.

Several students cited confidence as the source of their self-perceived attractiveness, but varied in their thoughts of exactly what kind of confidence was required.

One sophomore, responding that they were “significantly more attractive,” explained, “If you walk around thinking that you are more attractive than everyone else, people are going to think you are more attractive. It’s all about confidence. It’s kind of a ‘fake it till you make it’ [situation].”

Simply marking the box indicating attractiveness forced other students to stop and think.

Another sophomore said, “It was kind of hard how there was no middle option, because I don’t want to be self-deprecating, but I also wouldn’t want to say that I am more attractive.”

“I think even though people do not think this, they will say that they are less attractive than the average Brown population because it might be embarrassing to say that you are prettier than everyone else,” said another member of the class of 2025.

Sometimes, that confidence does not come without a little bit of work.

One sophomore who indicated that they thought they were “significantly more attractive than the average Brown student” said, “I think I am only able to say this about myself because of a significant amount of therapy.”

Other students had confidence to spare. “I am not just more attractive than most Brown students, but it is clear that I am more attractive than all of them. So I’d like this question to be altered in the future so that I can give a sufficient answer. Thank you,” said another sophomore.

A similarly confident sophomore said, “If you saw me walking by, a mysterious stranger, when you were a student touring Brown, I think I would make you want to come here.”

Indeed, attractiveness does play a significant role in the college selection journey, as evidenced by another sophomore. “Honestly, I did look at the class on Instagram, and I was like, people here are arguably more attractive. I was on campus and I felt like I could listen to Vampire Weekend … and it would make sense,” they said.

Perceptions of attractiveness varied between demographic groups.

“I feel like the men at Brown feel like they are significantly more attractive than everyone else at Brown, especially a white male. They are more confident,” said one junior.

She has a point. Tall men, those measuring in at 5’11” or above, indicated that they thought they were more attractive at higher rates than shorter men and women of any height. Ironically, 5’11” men saw themselves as the most attractive group on campus — 80% marking slightly or significantly more attractive — even more than the 6’ crowd, of which only 71% said the same.

Black and Asian students are less likely to perceive themselves as attractive, with 33% and 43% indicating attractiveness, respectively, compared to the campus-wide rate of 49% and the white-student rate of 53%. The same disparity is not seen in Middle Eastern / North African or Hispanic students.

Comparing oneself to others was often cited as a reason for feeling unattractive.

One sophomore said, “A lot of the time I see people who I consider to be more attractive than me, but I think we have a pretty attractive student body, and I think that is a good thing.”

Another sophomore said, “Being surrounded by people who have so often been considered a gold standard [academically] can kind of diminish your self-confidence.”

I think that feeling attractive might be more situational. Listening to hot people talk about their insecurities was concerning — if they were worried about their looks, how should I feel about my own? The situation was beginning to wear on my confidence before one sophomore’s comment brought me back from the brink:

“I think Brown is a pretty attractive campus, like right, I am in the midst of two very attractive people right now.”

Note: All quoted poll-takers remain anonymous to maintain the integrity of Brown Opinion Project surveys. Brown Opinion Project conducted its December 2022 poll on November 28th, November 29th, and December 1st, collecting 576 total responses from Brown undergraduate students. The margin of error is 4.11% with 95% confidence.


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