Quotations about   appearance

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At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
Notebook, last words (17 Apr 1949)
    (Source)

See Camus.
Added on 7-Aug-17 | Last updated 18-Sep-17
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She smoothed her hair back from her forehead and looked at herself in the mirror. She looked like she always looked. It was probably a truth about tragedy, she thought, while the tragedy is going on people look pretty much the way they looked when it wasn’t.

Robert B. Parker (1932-2010) American writer
Thin Air (1995)
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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Great robbers always resemble honest folk. Fellows who have rascally faces have only one course to take, and that is to remain honest; otherwise, they would be arrested off-hand.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days, ch. 6 (1873)
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Added on 23-Sep-16 | Last updated 23-Sep-16
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The good may prove to be a hidden form of evil. The evil may prove to be a new and not yet recognized form of the good.

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (1874-1948) Russian religious and political philosopher
The Destiny of Man, 2.4.1 (1931) [tr. Duddington (1955)]
Added on 29-Dec-15 | Last updated 29-Dec-15
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Good and bad men are each less so than they seem.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) English poet and critic
Table Talk, “19 April 1830” (1835)
Added on 22-Dec-15 | Last updated 22-Dec-15
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     “If they were ugly, Peter, would you care half so much?” asked Nightingale. “There are some hideous things out there that can talk and reason and I wonder if you would be quite so quick to rush to their defense.”
     “Maybe not,” I said. “But that just makes me shallow, it doesn’t make me wrong.”

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Moon Over Soho (2011)
Added on 9-Dec-15 | Last updated 9-Dec-15
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I have regard to appearance still. So am I no hero.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (6 Apr 1839)
Added on 4-Sep-15 | Last updated 4-Sep-15
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In short, we can judge by nothing but Appearances, and they are very apt to deceive us. Some put on a gay chearful Outside, and appear to the World perfectly at Ease, tho’ even then, some inward Sting, some secret Pain imbitters all their Joys, and makes the Balance even: Others appear continually dejected and full of Sorrow; but even Grief itself is sometimes pleasant, and Tears are not always without their Sweetness: Besides, Some take a Satisfaction in being thought unhappy, (as others take a Pride in being thought humble,) these will paint their Misfortunes to others in the strongest Colours, and leave no Means unus’d to make you think them thoroughly miserable; so great a Pleasure it is to them to be pitied; Others retain the Form and outside Shew of Sorrow, long after the Thing itself, with its Cause, is remov’d from the Mind; it is a Habit they have acquir’d and cannot leave.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
“A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity” (1725)
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Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Aug-15
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A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.

John Keats (1795-1821) English poet
“Endymion” Book 1, l. 1 (1818)
Added on 25-Feb-15 | Last updated 25-Feb-15
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Polished brass will pass upon more people than rough gold.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (6 Mar 1747)
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Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
1 Peter 3:3-4 [NIV]

Alt. trans.:

  • "Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." [KJV]
  • "You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God's sight." [TEV]
  • "Do not adorn yourselves outwardly by braiding your hair, and by wearing gold ornaments or fine clothing; rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight." [NRSV]
Added on 24-Dec-14 | Last updated 24-Dec-14
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Beauty is only skin-deep.

Thomas Adams (1583–1653) English Calvinist clergyman and preacher
The Blacke Devill or the Apostate (1615)
Added on 26-Nov-14 | Last updated 26-Nov-14
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Style has to do with the way in which ideas are believed and advocated rather than with the truth or falsity of their content.

Richard Hofstadter (1916-1970) American historian and intellectual
“The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” Herbert Spencer Lecture, Oxford (Nov 1963)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Harpers (Nov 1964). Often misattributed to Douglas Hofstadter.
Added on 7-Oct-14 | Last updated 7-Oct-14
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Good humor may be said to be one of the very best articles of dress one can wear in society.

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) English novelist
Sketches and Travels in London, “On Tailoring — and Toilets in General” (1856)
Added on 8-Aug-14 | Last updated 8-Aug-14
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The weirder you are going to behave, the more normal you should look. It works in reverse, too. When I see a kid with three or four rings in his nose, I know there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about that person.

P.J. O'Rourke (b. 1947) American humorist, editor
Give War a Chance (1992)
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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I have laughed in bitterness and agony of heart, at the contrast between what I seem and what I am!

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) American writer
The Scarlet Letter, ch. 17 (1850)
Added on 13-Jun-14 | Last updated 13-Jun-14
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For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) Italian politician, philosopher, political scientist
The Discourses, 1.25 (1517)
Added on 6-Jun-14 | Last updated 6-Jun-14
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Pay no attention to appearing. Being is alone important.

André Gide (1869-1951) French author, Nobel laureate
Journal, “Rule of Conduct” (Nov 1890)
Added on 30-May-14 | Last updated 30-May-14
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He may look like an idiot and talk like an idiot but don’t let that fool you. He really is an idiot.

Groucho Marx (1890-1977) American comedian [b. Julius Henry Marx]
(Attributed)
Added on 29-May-14 | Last updated 29-May-14
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Handsome is that handsome does.

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) English novelist, dramatist, satirist
A History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Book 4, ch. 12 (1749)
Added on 23-May-14 | Last updated 23-May-14
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Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
The Discourses (c. AD 101-108)
Added on 16-May-14 | Last updated 16-May-14
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[F]or cheerfulness and content are great beautifiers, and are famous preservers of youthful looks, depend upon it.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) English writer and social critic
Barnaby Rudge, ch. 82 (1841)
    (Source)

Often given as "Cheerfulness and contentment are great beautifiers and are famous preservers of youthful looks."
Added on 2-May-14 | Last updated 2-May-14
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I have yet to meet a man as fond of high moral conduct as he is of outward appearances.

Confucius (551-479 BC) Chinese philosopher [Ku'ng Ch'iu / King Qiu, Ku'ng Fu-tzu / Kong Fuzi]
(Attributed)

In The Best of Confucius [tr. James R. Ware (1950)].
Added on 18-Apr-14 | Last updated 18-Apr-14
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Behavior which appears superficially correct, but is intrinsically corrupt, always irritates those who see below the surface.

James Bryant Conant (1893-1978) American chemist, academic, diplomat
Baccalaureate Address, Harvard University (1934)
Added on 11-Apr-14 | Last updated 11-Apr-14
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There are some people who state that the exterior, sex, or physique of another person is indifferent to them, that they care only for the communion of mind with mind; but these people need not detain us. There are some statements that no one ever thinks of believing, however often they are made.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
The Defendant, “A Defence of Ugly Things” (1901)
Added on 4-Apr-14 | Last updated 4-Apr-14
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“I quite agree with you,” said the Duchess; “and the moral of that is — ‘Be what you would seem to be’ — or, if you’d like it put more simply — ‘Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.'”

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) English writer and mathematician [pseud. of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson]
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, “The Mock Turtle’s Story” (1865)
Added on 28-Mar-14 | Last updated 28-Mar-14
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The devil’s most devilish when respectable.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) English poet
“Aurora Leigh” (1857)
Added on 21-Mar-14 | Last updated 21-Mar-14
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Thousands upon thousands are yearly brought into a state of real poverty by their great anxiety not to be thought poor.

William Cobbett (1763-1835) English politician, agriculturist, journalist, pamphleteer
Advice to Young Men and (Incidentally) to Young Women, Letter 2, #58 (1829)
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Added on 4-Jan-13 | Last updated 6-Jul-17
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Whenever a man’s friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old.

Washington Irving (1783-1859) American author [pseud. for Geoffrey Crayon]
Bracebridge Hall, “Bachelors” (1822)

Sometimes attributed to Mark Twain.
Added on 12-Oct-11 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 52, epigraph (1897)
Added on 4-Feb-09 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion ….

Robert Burns (1759-1796) Scottish national poet
“To a Louse,” l.43-46 (1786)

The poem is reprinted in various forms and anglicizations of Burns' Scottish, e.g.,

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An foolish notion

O would some Power the gift to give us
To see ourselves as others see us!
It would from many a blunder free us,
And foolish notion:

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Aug-17
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HAMLET: Meet it as I should set it down
That one may smile and smile and still be a villain.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Hamlet, Act 1, sc. 5, l. 107 (1600)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Jan-14
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Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)

First found in Merle Johnson, More Maxims of Mark (1927), and generally considered authentic. More info here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts ….

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 2, sc. 6, l. 139 [Jaques] (1599)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-May-16
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