I'd rather be born beautiful and poor. If you are beautiful, there is a good chance you'll find someone rich to take care of you or otherwise use your beauty to make money. Then you'll be beautiful AND rich. Once you're ugly, you'll always be ugly.
Rich and ugly, no contest. Beauty is, in our culture, as much about attitude, grooming, and accoutrements as anything else, and money can buy those things. Money also buys power - I would rather have my own power than be dependent on a man for it.
Consider this: Bill Gates is probably one of the least physically attractive men in America. It doesn't seem to have slowed him down much.
"I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better." - Bea Kaufman
Being a longtime teacher, it's a no brainer: Rich and ugly would suit me just fine, since the affordability of plastic surgery is an option. Money can't buy happiness, but it can create financial security for the family and provide the option for an Ivy League education for the children and grandchildren.
Definitely poor and beautiful, especially in America. Playing off the same stereotypes, I think women have an advantage in almost every professional field if they are physically attractive. And maybe because of the fairy tale that is ingrained in every child (but especially young girls), there exists the notion that poor but beautiful girls can be resucued by handsome, rich men. I realize the feminist movement would probably kill for me for embracing such a notion, but I don't think it is necessarily that far from reality for many people.
Money can buy a lot in this world, and I really don't care much about beautiful or ugly because it is so in the eye of the beholder. Being poor financially can be a real interesting thing. I have travelled to some of the poorest pockets of the world, and poor does not equate to unhappiness, in fact, many have found what the rich don't ever find, contentment.
This is a difficult question to pose to middle class people. We all strive for rich and beautiful and toil our years away striving for both. A better question might be to ask at what level of beauty or financial success will you find happiness. The capitalist in us is never satisfied.
I choose poor.
Rich and ugly. Particularly since I'm a man. Women (stereotype, I know) seem to be less hung up on looks than men. So I could probably still find someone who would love me. Then I could be rich and have love. What more could you want?
Rich and ugly, assuming that I could stay rich and also assuming that if I were born handsome and poor I would remain poor. Handsome and beautiful people will eventually become much, much less handsome and beautiful, but if one is born rich and can stay rich, one has a great advantage in life (and can also pay for plastic surgery). :-)
Well, I've never been ugly or poor. But, then again, I've never really been beautiful or rich either. Genuine poverty is something more than lack of money though. As Missy575 says, 3rd world rural peasants are not 'living in poverty' in the same way as people living in the slums of Calcutta or Detroit.
But, I would love to have been a truly stuningly beautiful woman, the world just seems to bow down and worship them and give them anything they want. I don't know any man, no matter how rational and intelligent, that isn't struck senseless by a T.S.B.W.
If I were a T.S.B.W. I would marry a senile old billionaire, "What does Honey-bunny want a silly old pre-nup for? Bunnykins wuvs you." Then bump the randy old goat off and, hey presto, beautiful AND rich.
There is nothing in this world more likely to put a man off his backswing than a truly beautiful women.