Beauty Discrimination

The Struggle is Real

Do you make less money than other people who do the same work as you? If so, then you may be a victim of beauty discrimination, which is a serious matter, and affects millions of ugly people around the world. According to an article from, “Handsome men earn, on average, 5 percent more than their less-attractive counterparts. Attractive women make 4 percent more. Over the course of a good-looking man’s career, he will earn roughly $250,000 more than a comparable, yet unattractive, employee.”

Wow! I know for a fact that I’m making below average wage in my field of work (media design) but I think that has everything to do with my limited work experience and not my level of attractiveness, at least I hope.


The reality of being judged

The article further explains “the less good-looking you are in America, the more likely you are to be poor, receive worse performance reviews at work, and get a longer prison sentences if you land in jail. And you’ll be going through it alone. Unattractive people are also statistically less likely to be married.”

Ouch, that’s pretty darn depressing. 🙁 Managers also put a heavy emphasis on looks. When asked to rank factors that come into play when evaluating a candidate, appearance was a higher priority than where an applicant went to college.


“This is the new reality of the job market,” explained one New York recruiter. “It’s better to be average and good-looking than brilliant and unattractive.”

Oh dear. Are we really that shallow? So much for inner beauty. *Sigh* I used to think spending money on plastic surgery, Botox, or other cosmetic procedures were just for losers who had low self esteem. But now I realize I had it all wrong before. From a financial point of view making yourself look more attractive is apparently one of the best investments you can make in your lifetime. If you’ve had cosmetic surgery before, what was your reason to do it?

Personally I think I’m a solid *above average* looking chap.  However, if I went in for some cosmetic dentistry and eyelid surgery, and maybe even a nose job, then I can potentially make a quarter million dollars more throughout my career. And I do have the required capital (~$30,000 at most) to pay for it all today, which is well worth the investment if the study is correct.


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Alex Yang (@yyangalex)
11/07/2012 5:06 am

i think i also read somewhere that statistically, taller people are more likely to become managers, executives, leaders, etc. and get paid more. in china some ppl even have bone surgery to become taller. its crazy!

11/08/2012 2:15 am

Bone surgery is pretty extreme. I wonder if Vincent knew what he was getting himself into when he agreed to go through the surgery to be as tall as Jerome (Gattaca reference) Doctors say height is not a problem for all short people but some suffer low self-esteem and this affects their life.

11/07/2012 5:13 am

I wrote about this a few years ago:

Four years ago, I spent $5,000 on a cosmetic procedure. I invested in my body and immediately saw a dramatic increase in my quality of life and general well-being.

I have no way of determining if I am making more money at my current job now than I would have with my old nose, but my confidence greatly improved which in turn usually is a factor for earning a higher wage.

It is disconcerting to me that there is still a stigma against plastic surgery. You really have the opinion that EVERYONE who gets a cosmetic procedure is shallow? The funny part of that is you wouldn’t even know if someone had a surgery (aside from something obvious like those triple E boobs) when they’re done well.

Last edited 3 years ago by Liquid Independence
11/08/2012 2:32 am
Reply to  Leslie

Glad you dropped by Leslie, thanks for sharing your experience. The confidence factor is the main reason I’m thinking about getting cosmetic surgery myself. I don’t think individuals are shallow for wanting to look their best :0) I’m just a little disappointed that the corporate world values beauty more than brains. The good thing is practices have gotten so much better over the years and the cost has come down, you don’t need tens of thousands of dollars on a simple cosmetic procedure anymore. I’m also considering medical tourism and see what my options are.

11/07/2012 5:40 am

It is sad but that is the law of the jungle too. If an animal is too weak, it can be abandoned to survive on its own. I read looks and light make up make a woman appear more professional. If you know that is the rule of the game, then clean up well for a job interview and negotiate your salary. It may not be entirely based on your competences but your confidence will play a lot anyway. Instead of cosmetic surgery, you can start with a sharp suit!

11/08/2012 2:36 am
Reply to  Pauline

I believe we learned in school that wolves show that kind of behavior. The weaker ones are abandoned from the pack, kind of sad. Good idea about getting a sharp suit :0) It’s also more affordable than cosmetic surgery.

John S @ Frugal Rules
11/07/2012 5:53 am

Sad thing is that we are that shallow and materialistic. What makes it worse is that if you’re not happy with how you look, there’s a surgery out there to help you look pretty much any way you want. That said, I would tend to agree with Pauline in that having this knowledge I am going to do what I can to look my best in job related situations.

11/08/2012 2:41 am

You bring up an interesting thought. Not sure if good looking people get paid more because employers automatically think they deserve more, or because they have the confidence that comes with good looks to negotiate a better paycheck.

11/07/2012 9:03 am

Interesting post. That would be quite a ROI on the initial capital. But you have to consider that there are dangers going under the knife as well, but I’m sure the listed procedures are pretty routine these days.

I’ve never really thought about getting procedures done, but you’ve definitely given me food for thought!

Oh, and boo on the pictures. 😛

11/08/2012 2:45 am
Reply to  Vicky

One of the risks I’m concerned about is how easily my skin scars. I had a small cut on my hands from years ago and you can still see where it happened today. But that return on income does look tempting :0)

11/07/2012 11:13 am

You know it’s true, it happens all the time. I find the taller men, good looking men get promoted over the not so attractive man, shorter guy. We see men and women all the time paying and doing whatever they can to look better not only for the opposite or same sex but to move up in this world. According to a family member who is beautiful, tall, educated and she says that any time she was interviewed by a female she never got the job. There was not one job where she was interviewed by a male that she was not hired. She’s dealt with it all her life. She says the women get inferior thinking you might steal their job,move up the ladder faster with promotions or that the men might pay attention or assist you more because they are attracted to you. Bla bla bla.. ya.. but it’s true.. Interesting post! Mr.CBB

11/08/2012 2:57 am

Doesn’t get any more honest than what you said, lol. I agree because I think the same way. When I see better looking guys than me at the bar or at work I can’t help but feel a little intimated by their presence. I just thought of a great theme for a movie. Imagine if all the attractive people in the world, like the 9s and 10s, had to pay a special beauty tax because it is assumed they don’t have to work as hard in life to achieve the same success as everyone else. Not practical in real life of course, but would be an interesting and fresh idea for Hollywood doncha think.

Mo' Money Mo' Houses (@momoneymohouses)

As much as I don’t like to think that I’m judged on my appearance at work or anywhere else, I know I am because we as humans sometimes can’t help it. It may be because we are a shallow society, but I honestly do think that your appearance really does portray what you want to project to the world. If you don’t wear makeup, don’t brush your hair, and wear plain clothes all the time, unfortunately you will people will perceive you in a particular way. If you wear makeup, style your hair, and dress up a bit, then you’ll be perceived in a totally different way. As much as I wish people would ignore all that stuff and just remember it’s what’s on the inside that counts, I still wear makeup, style my hair, and try to dress up a bit for work.

11/08/2012 3:11 am

It’s a reality I wish grownups would start to teach us about from a younger age instead of only telling us about how true beauty comes from the inside and don’t worry what other people say about our looks. Appearances are especially important for work if your job requires you to meet with potential clients or customers because you want to represent your company in the best way. Luckily at the same time, there are others jobs like mine where looking your best is not a high priority because we sit in front of computers all day and don’t interact with people from outside our office. Knowing that attractiveness factors into someone’s pay, I wonder if it’s possible now to look around the people we work with and guess how much money they’re making relative to each other with at least some (even slightly) degree of accuracy lol.

11/07/2012 5:46 pm

I don’t think it’s anyone trying to be “shallow and materialistic” (not sure how this is a materialism issue…) I really think it’s a subconscious accident. Even babies respond more positively to attractive people, we’re just wired this way. Attractiveness is associated with health: slim, athletic people with clear skin, shiny hair, and nice teeth will always come out above people that don’t have those attributes. It’s not fair, but it is fundamentally a biological consequence.

I don’t think it’s necessary to undergo cosmetic surgery or any other drastic measures to make yourself super attractive for the work place. I feel like putting some effort into your health & appearance will be enough to give you whatever edge is really available as far as salaries and promotions go, but maybe I’m wrong =\ … I like to think it’s enough so I don’t get too discouraged in my own career lol

11/08/2012 3:25 am
Reply to  Bridget

I agree it’s a biological instinct. Survival of the fittest is how people have evolved from hairy apes with short lifespans and no table manners to where we are today. Haha, I sort of meant materialistic like how some people value expensive inanimate objects like silicone/saline over personality and other intangibles. I admit it’s a bit of a stretch considering the main topic though. Cosmetic surgery can only change one’s outside appearance but living a more healthy lifestyle like you said, eating properly, and taking care of your body is more important at the end of the day.

11/08/2012 12:20 am

Time to attract more people by wearing the right clothes, make up (sorry guys), styling your hair, smelling nice if you’re average looking. For the below average looking people, you’re out of luck unless you wanna spend thousands on cosmetic surgery. You can still get sued…. for being “ugly” from before. Read this article about husband suing wife for being ugly. Court agreed and awarded him!

11/08/2012 3:34 am
Reply to  agentfang

That story makes me lose faith in humanity ;0( Imagine how the daughter will feel when she’s old enough to understand. Your daddy abandoned you because he thought you were too ugly T_T Not sure if I’m more disappointed about his actions of divorcing and suing, or his ex-wife’s decision of not telling him about her past surgeries.

11/08/2012 5:30 am

Lets step back here for a second – What defines handsome or attractive… And how does that apply to a job. Yes, presentablity and a certain persona might be important for certain frontline jobs, say sales or customer service jobs, but from a move up the ladder standpoint, i would think if one spends a little extra time on presentability it reflects on their character, no? Someone who is aware of how they present themselves would be someone you would want on your team, as they have an aire of perceived confidence, which is a salable attribute. Not withstanding, if two individuals had similar credentials, or experience, hands down i would pick the one who pocesses more confidence… I personally think it is more about the perception of handsome or attactivness as opposed to actuality. From the original article,”Newsweek found that more than half of the respondents recommended that prospective employees devote as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive””, which comes back to what i was talking about above, taking the time to making yourself look presentable, or attractive translates into demonstrating confidence and an understanding that this is a marketable quality, and hence an extra… Read more »

11/08/2012 4:14 pm
Reply to  Phil

Great insight. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so since it’s subjective, it can be influenced by the applications of psychology. Celebrities aren’t just glamorous because they hire dieticians, personal trainers, or spend all day at the gym, it’s also because they exude confidence and know how to present themselves in public ^_^ Making ourselves look more attractive for that competitive edge/marketable quality is a strong character trait. With that in mind, I think it can also be a slippery slope to some people who are easily influenced by vanity. It’s unfortunate but not uncommon to see someone turn from a charming, confident, and independent individual into a self-centered, egomaniacal jerk who’s constantly obsessed with how he looks and relies heavily on compliments from others to determine his own confidence level. I think people who are most successful in relationships, careers, and life in general, are the ones who know how to use an extra boost of confidence or perceived attractiveness, without losing sight of their humility and respect for others (☞゚ヮ゚)☞

11/08/2012 6:13 am

Oh, dear. That’s pretty bad. I do spend time in the morning to look presentable because frankly, I think it’s just unprofessional not to. I’m an attractive person but I may not always be. So .. for my wallet’s sake, I should probably try my best to maintain it.

11/08/2012 4:47 pm
Reply to  Daisy

For most jobs out there it’s important to look our best, especially for someone who works in either recruiting or human resources. I think it’s also respectful to spend some time grooming because it shows you are serious about your job. But for people who are naturally unattractive, like someone with a bad case of the lazy eye, or having a mole on their face, should these people bear the responsibility of having to undergo cosmetic surgery in order for companies to value them the same as other employees. From the comments so far the consensus is yes, albeit unfair. Things were much simpler in the medieval times huh :0) Today perceived appearances seem to be an ever increasing part of our society.

TB at BlueCollarWorkman
TB at BlueCollarWorkman
11/09/2012 7:10 am

“affects millions of ugly people every day” That made me laugh a little.

It sucks, but I”m not sure it’s a new thing. I bet $15 that “looks discrimination” has been going on forever. Doesnt’ make it okay, but I’m just sayin’

11/11/2012 7:03 am

Forever seems like a long time but I would agree with that because as someone else pointed out, it is just part of how nature works.

Marissa (@Thirtysixmonths)
11/09/2012 6:42 pm

I’ve read a few times and have to say that its pretty true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. On the flip side, people assume that just because you good looking you only got your position because of your looks.

11/11/2012 7:08 am

I hate it when that happens. I think it’s safe to say people got into whatever position they happen to be in partly because of their good or bad looks, but just because he’s handsome or she’s pretty doesn’t mean they’re not hard working people. They should still deserve credit where it’s due.

11/09/2012 7:25 pm

Your post made me smile. I’m certain it’s not your looks that are holding you down so forget the nose job. But in reality, no matter how much good business sense we have, it doesn’t remove the human being in many of us.

I’m not saying this as a form of approval; I’m simply bowing to the inevitable as we make many sub conscious decisions based on hormones. So if you’re a manager and selecting your next assistant, I think it speaks for itself. No good complaining really as it’s more powerful than business training.

Of course more are led by hormones than others, but were all prone. But it’s hardly going to justify the price of cosmetic improvements though.

Also what contributes to your attractiveness is your self confidence and drive.
This could be another factor as to why better looking people get ahead easier. Fact is, better looking people are more inclined to give off confidence which needless to say is a quality required by many employers and what people that want to do business with you want to see.

I have met people that don’t allow attractiveness to influence decisions, but I’ve met far more that do.

11/11/2012 7:15 am
Reply to  Ted

I am one of those people who will certainly allow attractiveness to influence my decisions. I surround myself with good looking people so I can feel like I’m also good looking enough to hang out with the attractive crowd. Having drive is important too, and I also noticed that attractive individuals give off more of that confident vibe.

Alex Yang (@yyangalex)
11/10/2012 4:30 pm

look on the bright side, be glad you dont work in China, where how far you move up is determined mostly by who you know, paying people off, and giving mutual benefits. at least in North America, talent and skill will go a long way. Even when considering how good you look / how tall you are, if you are immensely talented, it will outweigh those things. this is at least my experience from engineering side of things

11/11/2012 7:20 am

Yikes, that doesn’t sound like fun at all, unless you were born into a well connected family of course. Considering China has like 40 times more people than we do, I guess I’m pretty lucky to be living in Canada. At least over here people can overcome their physical shortfalls with brute skills and talents.

11/11/2012 6:34 am

Few things in general from studies I’ve read:

1. Beautiful women make men turn temporarily stupider. It’s been proven in some studies.

2. Women HR managers tend to penalize beautiful women for job roles, but like really attractive men.

3. Male HR managers, don’t have anything against attractive men.

4. Being “attractive” doesn’t mean you have no chance if you are average or “ugly”.

It means you are dressing well, taking care of your appearance and trying your best to look good, rather than giving up completely, wearing clothes too big with holes in them, and not bothering to take care of your appearance.

Even “ugly” women can be considered beautiful with the right clothes, makeup, proper grooming, and most of all, a good personality with a smile.

11/11/2012 7:40 am

Make men temporarily stupider? lol, I actually believe that because it’s happened to me before. One of the controversies that a previous commentator brought up is that there is still this stigma towards going under the knife. People generally agree that taking care of one’s appearance and trying one’s best to look good, is important. So can cosmetic surgery play a roll in our plan to look the best we can. In a way it’s kind of like make up, except it’s permanent, and instead of on our skin, the change is underneath our skin. Of course for most average looking people we can probably get away by just dressing well and keep a positive attitude.

07/27/2016 12:39 am

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