Lose weight and look good and you may just earn more money.
Vanity and the search for physical perfection cuts across genders. In the past, I’d written about the business of beauty and the economics of cosmetics, where I talked a great deal about how much work women do to make themselves look more attractive. I wondered how much was too much. How much money would you spend to make yourself look good?
With only a teeny tiny bit of makeup and a simple blow dry, I can transform myself from looking scary to decent. So I don’t really spend very much on cosmetics or on primping. I’ve abandoned that vain self of mine long ago, thank goodness. By going simple, it’s really saved me a ton of money through the years.
Yet you can’t argue with our general desire to try to look as good as possible. This is something I’d encourage everyone to do, as we all owe ourselves the chance to appear decent and acceptable; reaching our potential in that regard is a good thing. But I do disagree with the overall message that society places upon us, that looks are really all important. I disagree because I see so many people really go overboard on this matter, and in my case, it hits close to home when I witness (from folks I know) the needless spending of dollars on outfits that never see the light of day (and remain tagged in closets), the stash of branded bags that only get used once in a blue moon or the collection of shoes that could put Imelda Marcos to shame. Oh and the bags need to match those shoes exactly.
How Money, Success and Physical Attractiveness Are Linked
It’s another story though, if you work in the image business and need to look fine and fashionable. Beauty sells and brings in the bucks, so it’s natural for people in certain fields to want to better themselves in this way, and to make the appropriate investment. As I’ve said in some earlier posts on this subject, I’m glad I’m not in such a field, so I don’t have to conform to this “nonsense”. In fact, having spent my career in a male-dominated field has caused me to do quite the opposite and to downplay the attractiveness factor, since beauty — in the world of engineering — is a mere distraction, while left brain talent is what’s revered.
But as many studies do attest, it’s a “beautiful world” so to speak. Here are some interesting facts about how money and physical attractiveness correlate. The following information and images used in this post come from these sources: China Daily, The Regional Economist, The Independent and Career Builder.
- Beautiful women have a better chance of getting jobs and tend to marry higher-earning men.
- Good-looking, slim, tall people tend to earn 5 percent more an hour than their less comely colleagues. After variables like education and experience are factored out, researchers said the “beauty premium” exists across all occupations, and that jobs requiring more interpersonal contact have higher percentages of above-average-looking employees. Researchers also discovered a “plainness penalty”, punishing below-average-looks with earnings of 9 percent less an hour. So a person with below-average looks tended to earn 9 percent less per hour, and an above-average person tended to earn 5 percent more per hour than an average-looking person. Ouch!
- The difference can amount to as much as 15% of salary between the best and worst looking. Economists James Andreoni and Ragan Petrie wrote, “We find a beauty premium even though beautiful people contribute, on average, no more or less than others. Attractive people make more money than middle attractive people, who in turn make more money than unattractive people.”
- People are more likely to buy items from physically attractive salespersons. When asked to describe people based simply on a photograph, study participants classified attractive people as sexually warm, responsive, sensitive, kind, interesting and strong.
- There’s an assumption that beautiful people are more cooperative and helpful. Attractive people make more money because they found it easier to generate co-operation among their co-workers. But when beautiful people aren’t pulling their weight, their looks count against them and it is the unattractive who come out winners.
- When someone is attractive, we assign many other positive attributes to him or her that have nothing to do with looks.
- Occupations that require more interpersonal contact have higher percentages of above-average- looking employees but the plainness penalty and the beauty premium exist across all occupations.
- From an economic perspective, higher productivity justifies higher income. So the relevant question is whether good looks lead to higher productivity. This is why looks are so important in TV news. A good-looking anchor attracts more viewers. And a bigger audience enables a TV station to charge higher rates. That is a productivity boost created by good looks, so a higher salary is fair.
- There’s a higher beauty premium among private sector lawyers than their government-supported counterparts since private attorneys need to attract and keep clients.
- The average CEO is approximately 3 inches taller than the average American man, who stands 5-foot-9. Further, 30 percent of the CEOs are at least 6-foot-2; the corresponding percentage for American adult men overall is only 3.9 percent.
- A study by the Industrial Society found employers tend to put beauty before brains when hiring staff. Many companies are now more interested in a recruit’s looks, speech, dress sense and personal hygiene than in how well they did at school or university.
Well that can explain why job discrimination is alive and well, at least in certain businesses! More fascinating information on wage discrimination due to appearance:
The wage differential discovered for obesity seems to be limited to white women, the study said, belying an unmeasured productivity explanation. Economists also found that women considered obese in terms of their body mass index (BMI) in both 1981 and 1988 earned 17 percent less than women within their recommended BMI range. And while weight seemed to dog women, short men get the short end of the stick. Economists found a “height premium” among white men, with a 1.8-percent increase in wages for every additional inch of height over the national median.
Ugh! I’ve heard about the power of the media and how it shapes the self-esteem and body image of our young people, but this unsettling reality stretches beyond the influence of fashion magazines or even vapid teen television shows and the like.
Investing In Your Looks: A Hardcore Example
Despite understanding these so-called rules of society, I was still stunned to find that people are prepared to pay up and invest so much into their appearance, to a point which I find utterly appalling. There’s just something deeply
creepy uncomfortable about thinking that there are guys out there who care to pump up their chests or emphasize their derrieres with synthetic material. I cringe at the thought of women doing this very thing, but to spend ridiculous amounts of money for this is just beyond me. With this being cosmetic or elective surgery, it’s all out-of-pocket.
Pec implant surgery starts at about $7,000. Beverly Hills surgeon Adrien Aiache, who performs about three dozen procedures per year, says he charges $9,000. The massage therapist, who asked not to be identified because he is sensitive about appearing overly vain, says he paid $12,000 and has no regrets. “No one’s ever said, not once, ‘Are those implants?’ ” he claims – including the men with whom he’s been intimate.
But even if plastic surgery is not covered by insurance, it could very well be considered a business expense, perhaps in some industries.
Simple Steps To Look Better and Enhance Your Outer Beauty
Instead of going for these radical beauty solutions, you can focus on simpler tips to elevate your looks, as suggested by marketing and brand guru, Catherine Kaputa. Reach success with these basic steps to improve your looks:
- Package yourself: clothes will not help you perform but will help how your performance is perceived.
- Emphasize features: be confident about your looks and build a strong image. Focus on the strong points of your appearance. I assume this means that if you’ve got a good body but an average face, the way you present your body should be optimized.
- Have a trademark: think Bono’s shades or Sir Robin Day’s bow ties. Stand out from the crowd. Ummm… I’m not quite sure about this tip; a suggestion like this can backfire if you do it wrong.
- Focus on “soft power”: use your values, style and point of view to attract others to you. Stand tall, and never slouch. I agree that posture adds to one’s confident appearance, and looking confident adds to attractiveness.
- Hone your speech: the ability to sell yourself and your ideas is critical. Being articulate adds to your attractiveness factor, well I guess because it helps you come across as “smart”. It’s a charisma booster, that’s for sure!
Competition makes us all do crazy things I guess — just think of all the people (many celebrities) who were already pretty to begin with, who have decided that they needed to continue hiking their beauty quotient and who have needlessly gone under the knife. Beauty begets money begets beauty — it’s all a vicious cycle, thanks to our image-conscious society, and right now, it’s something I’m not buying into.
Then again, I’m not yet 50. Ask me again what my opinion is when I get to that point.
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