Is your appearance your most important attribute?

Nicholas Wong Hei, 17 Sing Yin Secondary School

Absolutely. I'm sure if I looked like Brad Pitt, more students, especially girls, would be interested in this column.

Appearance is the most direct way of attracting people. First impressions are important.

Some people say that knowledge equals power, but one look at what's on offer on TV says otherwise. There are quite a few science quizzes on TV, but they are basic and made on a limited budget. Now think about beauty contests and fashion programmes. They are expensive, glamorous and much more popular.

More people are interested in looking at a beautiful face than knowing what's inside that person's mind.

Cosmetic surgery is one of the fastest growing businesses in the world. This shows how much people care about their appearance.

All these examples may sound superficial, but there is another aspect to how you look.

Appearance is the symbol of identity. Our chief executive and government staff look smart in their suits. Their appearance shows the public that they are managers and administrators.

Would you believe the words of a professor who dresses like a punk? Appearance, to a certain extent, affects your credibility. How often do you stop and listen to someone dressed in shabby clothes?

Would you believe in Albert Einstein if presented the theory of relativity to you dressed as a clown?

Phoenix Lee Ching-kwan, 18 Tin Ka Ping Secondary School

No. While looking good gives you more opportunities and gives a good first impression, in the end, you are still judged on your ability.

How you look is important. When we are young, we are taught that being tidy and clean helps us make more friends. No one likes people in shabby clothes and with messy hair. When we get into secondary school, appearance is counted as part of conduct.

But, this doesn't mean that appearance is everything. If an apple looks good outside but is rotten inside, you will still throw it away.

Some people might say that appearance is essential when applying for a job. True, looking professional is the first step to success in an interview. But we all know this is not enough.

Your boss won't hire you simply because of your Armani suit. I believe that ability and character determine a person's success. It's easy to look good by dressing up, but you can never pretend to be capable.

Even show business, which supposedly worships beauty, regards talent as the most important element an artist should have.

If an actor or actress wants to survive in the industry, he or she must have something outstanding. Pretty faces help assist their careers, but they're definitely not the key of success.

A good appearance may pave the way to success, but competence determines a person's achievements.