In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, Daniel S. Hamermesh – economics professor and author of “Beauty Pays” – explores the advantages of being attractive, as well as the downsides to being, well, less attractive. While discrimination based purely on a person’s physical appearance is shallow, the ugly truth remains that good-looking people earn more and are generally treated better than their less attractive counterparts. As Hamermesh points out, perceived beauty is just as crucial to men as it is women, and can affect a person’s potential income, ability to find an attractive and high-earning spouse, and secure a well-paying job.
The reality is that most people prefer to do business with and interact among good-looking people – whether it’s a salesperson, an attorney, a doctor, or a teller at your local bank. While we all profess our aversion to any sort of prejudice based on looks, studies have unequivocally proven that we favor attractiveness, in our roles as both employees and employers. In 1994, Dr. Hamermesh and Dr. Jeff Biddle evaluated government surveys in both Canada and the United States. The surveys asked questions about occupation, income and background, and applied ratings for interviewee attractiveness as follows: 1-homely; 2- below average; 3-average; 4-above average; and 5-handsome or beautiful. The results demonstrated a significant penalty for bad looks among men, with those who rated as “homely” or “below average” earning 9% percent less than average. Males who were considered handsome or above average, on the other hand, pulled in 5% more than average, and women experienced similar penalties, but not to the degree of men.
According to the article, one study found that a U.S. worker who was rated in the bottom one-seventh in looks, earned up to 15 percent less a year compared to another employee who was deemed attractive. This percentage adds up to a lifetime difference of $230,000 – no small chunk of change.
With all the perks of being good-looking, more people may be considering the benefits of cosmetic surgery to boost their careers and enhance their lives in general. Hamermesh takes it a step further and suggests that a more drastic solution may be required: legal safeguards for the unattractive to prevent discriminatory treatment as we do for racial minorities or those with handicaps. In essence, the author is proposing an affirmative-action program for the ugly.
In light of the indisputable evidence that we have more opportunity in life if we are labeled attractive, it’s relatively easy – and accepted – to buy those “good” looks. Plastic surgery among both men and women is becoming increasingly popular, and many people are looking at surgical intervention as a sort of lifelong investment. When society is hard-wired to treat beautiful people better, why wouldn’t more folks consider the benefits of cosmetic surgery?
A leading Manhattan plastic surgeon, Dr. Thomas Loeb is regularly featured on the “best doctors” lists in NYC, and is a frequent guest on national television programs. His expertise runs the gamut from facelifts and rhinoplasty to non-invasive facial rejuvenation. For more information about cosmetic surgery procedures and how they may benefit you, please contact the Fifth Avenue office of Dr. Thomas Loeb to schedule your private consultation. Call 212-327-3700.