The Advantages of Beauty: How Far Can They Take You?

  • Posted on: Jul 23 2010
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Newsweek.com recently published a special report called “The Beauty Advantage” which discusses the pursuit of good looks
and how beauty can give you an edge in the workplace and in life.

While many of us believe that we judge people purely on their personality, character, or competence in the workplace, there may be other biases at work, the report suggests. “Looking good is no longer something we can ignore or dismiss as frivolous or vain,” argues reporter Jessica Bennet.

If society were not biased in favor of attractive people, would these statistics be true?

  • “A good-looking man will make some $250,000 more than his least-attractive counterpart, according to economist Daniel Hamermesh.”
  • “Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers told Newsweek that qualified but unattractive candidates are likely to have a harder time landing a job.”
  • “More than half of those hiring managers advised spending as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a résumé.”

There are plenty more unsettling statistics cited throughout the report.  What’s more interesting though are the biological and psychological explanations (call them theories if you wish) for our bias.  Is it our appreciation of the “ideal form” as Plato suggested?  Are we unconsciously surrounding ourselves with attractive people in order to produce healthy offspring?  It’s unlikely that a single answer can satisfy our curiosity on this topic.

For many people in our generation, it comes down to an individual choice: how far will you go in your pursuit of beauty?  In the continuum of choices you can make to change your appearance, it’s not always clear where to draw the line.  Many people are quite satisfied with little more than a stylish wardrobe or haircut, but not every person begins their pursuit with the same beauty advantage.

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