Do attractive people have an advantage in life?


Fact Box

  • The Choose Beautiful campaign surveyed over 6,000 women from around the world and found that 96% would not describe themselves as beautiful.
  • Lookism” is defined as, “prejudice or discrimination based on physical appearance and especially physical appearance believed to fall short of societal notions of beauty.”
  • According to a study done by labor economist, Daniel Hamermesh, beautiful people tend to be happier than their more unattractive peers. Handsome men are happier due to economic kickbacks like higher wages, while beautiful women “find joy just by looking in the mirror.”
  •  A recent Ideal Partner Survey revealed that, according to women, the most important physical attributes for a long-term partner are an attractive smile and attractive eyes.

Maha (No)

Contrary to popular belief, being attractive does not ensure success in life.

Attractive people may face hurdles in building their careers, starting from the recruitment process. A recent study showed that the “what is beautiful is good” bias was observable only when interviewers were of the opposite sex. Highly attractive candidates were discriminated against when interviewed by the same sex due to the social threats they pose to less-attractive coworkers.

Further, studies show attractive people are less likely to be hired in the service industry, as people perceive them as delivering low-quality customer service. Moreover, retailers such as Abercrombie & Fitch have changed their hiring practices after facing backlash for employing only physically attractive people. 

Even when employed, attractive women specifically tend to experience sexist prejudices, as beautiful women in leadership positions are perceived to be less honest and trustworthy than their peers. Some even consider them “more deserving of termination.” 

Aside from work, beautiful people may not fare well in their relationships and may face more difficulty while dating than their less attractive counterparts. In this case, too, attractive women get the shorter end of the stick, as men are less likely to message them on dating sites. 

While attractiveness bias does exist, it does not guarantee happiness or success in life. Therefore, it is more important to accept attractive people for who they are and not how they look. 

For those who wish to enjoy the positive social effects of beauty, Psychology Today recommends developing self-confidence and greater warmth. These add to a person’s charm and determine how the world reacts to them regardless of their level of physical attractiveness. 

Bre (Yes)

Despite the adage about beauty being in the 'eye of the beholder,' scientists know there are widely accepted features--agreed upon across age and culture--that are deemed physically attractive. Further, economists acknowledge that 'good-looking' people have greater chances of employment and higher earnings, making for greater professional success. Beautiful people also receive preferential treatment in loan negotiations and approvals, and tend to have more educated and attractive spouses. Good looks even provide electoral candidates with a significant edge.

Attractive people are perceived to be 'healthier, wealthier, and more sociable.' In adults and children alike, those who are good looking show more “positive traits,' such as how well-adjusted and popular they are, as well as displays of intelligence and competence. Further, research reveals that attractive adults are less lonely and anxious, have more experience with dating and sex, and even have superior overall physical health.

Numerous studies show how one's appearance has a significant impact on interactions, with better looks resulting in better treatment. This favoritism starts early: better-looking students tend to be perceived by teachers as smarter and more competent, and they subsequently receive better grades.

The justice system also reflects a bias toward the beautiful, with unattractive male criminal defendants being twice as likely to receive jail time than attractive offenders. In civil disputes, juries grant twice as much in damages awarded to plaintiffs whose looks outweigh defendants', and when defendants are better looking, compensation is halved. The discrepancy spans to litigators, with unattractive lawyers' earnings coming in 10-12% less than their attractive peers.

From job applications to the risk of being terminated--even performance and likability--attractive people have a clear advantage in many aspects of life.

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