Dear Aspie: Are Pretty Aspies More Socially Accepted?

Dear Aspie:
?Are NTs [Neurologically Typical poeple] more likely to accept an aspie if he or she is “fit”: i.e., good looking, good dress sense, six-pack, big breasts, etc??


Read on for GroovyDruid’s response!
Dear Aspie:
?Are NTs [Neurologically Typical poeple] more likely to accept an aspie if he or she is “fit”: i.e., good looking, good dress sense, six-pack, big breasts, etc??



But the social benefits of dressing with fashion and having an aesthetic body go only so far. Other factors affect your acceptance and desirability in society much more than looks, especially for men.

A simple demonstration: think of Stephen Hawking, the world-renowned physicist. He has the degenerative disease ALS, is wheelchair bound, and has been hardly able to move for years, and looks like Gollum. Nevertheless, he is married, has children, and I guarantee you there are many women who would marry him and have his children. Strange? Only on the surface. Dr Hawking has a trait that trumps all his handicaps: a place in communication.

Communication determines one?s social desirability. A fit body and nice clothes communicate a few facets of a person?s totality, but their effect is very limited and works more as an aid to other communication than an end in themselves. Merely attractive people often find that they get fast service at restaurants and lots of sidelong glances in public. But without other, deeper communication, attractive people often wind up getting used and disregarded. You might have heard the sarcastic saying, ?It ain?t easy being pretty?? Well, there?s a gritty kernel of truth to it, as much as we envy the people who are fortunate enough to have an aesthetic form.

Communication means much more than conversation skills and a nice hand in letter writing. Communication enters into the entire field of human activity and has layers upon layers of complexity, some of which we have yet to fully understand. A person who is a good communicator may not say anything at all. Such a person may only be communicated through or pull together the people who need to communicate. In fact, if you look at the most highly paid and most powerful people in the world, they fall into this category. Bill Gates doesn?t write software. He uses his reputation?a communication device?to put consumers in contact with the people who write the software. He also communicates between the companies who make all the different programs and makes sure they all communicate using the same standard: Microsoft Windows. (The federal anti-trust enforcers got rather upset with him about this.)

Good actors do much the same thing, and they deserve special mention because they are thought of as sexy and desirable. People make the mistake of thinking that actors get their jobs because of their fantastic looks and nothing else. This is nonsense. Actors facilitate a staggering amount of communication. How? The film studio has a huge project with an expensive director, an expensive script, tens of millions of dollars worth of sets, and investors waiting to be satisfied. There?s one problem: how do they communicate this great, expensive story to the public? They must go through actors, the communicators chosen by the collective consciousness of a society. An actor?s name communicates to filmgoers that a story is worthwhile and should be seen, and the actor?s performance communicates the story to the aesthetic senses of the audience. Not only that, but a well-known actor in a film facilitates communication among the filmgoers themselves: ?Did you see that new film, the one with Johnny Depp?? ?You mean The Libertine? Yeah! It was weird blah blah blah.? Actors cause, facilitate, give, and receive more communication than just about anyone else in our society, and for that reason?not their looks or their clothes?they are named ?sexiest man/woman alive? and drooled over incessantly. Looks help, but looks comprise the tip of the iceberg, that little part of the gigantic mass that is visible.

This should make our earlier discussion of Dr Hawking more intelligible. He facilitates worldwide communication of physics?partly because of his disability. His name attached to his university, his own lectures, and the attention aimed at him all go together to make a swirling mass of communication with him at the eye of the storm. Thus, he is socially acceptable and desirable.

Aspies seem to have spotty success in precisely this area of broadly defined communication, and it damages their social acceptance and desirability. An aspie can make himself understood in speech or writing quite well usually. But when it comes to the facilitation of communication and becoming a point of communication for his small group or the society at large, an aspie often finds himself in the dark. Human society communicates with itself on what seems to be almost paranormal levels, and aspies don?t seem to tap into these ?channels? as well as most NTs. (For an excellent scientific discussion of these phenomena, read The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.)

A few exceptions jump out. Despite not having a publicly declared diagnosis, Bill Gates almost certainly falls somewhere on the autism spectrum. Dan Aykroyd, the world-famous actor, publicly declared an AS diagnosis not too long ago, as well as Craig Nicholls, lead singer of The Vines. Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent, also has AS. Apparently, aspies can move in the realm of important communication, but it?s unusual.

Common sense dictates that I recommend you keep fit. All our knowledge points to regular exercise being superb for the mind and body. If you want to improve your dress appearance but don?t feel you have good taste, I recommend getting an NT friend?preferably a woman?to go shopping with you and help you choose what looks good. Buy several variations on one look, and you?re all set. (For me, it happened to be collared men?s shirts, blue jeans, and indoor soccer shoes.) And with fitness as well as dress, I would say, don?t fret over the results too much. Do exercise that feels right to you, and wear clothes that feel comfortable. Work on your communication skills as you can. That study, more than anything, will improve your social acceptance and desirability.

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