What studies show about the relationship between beauty and the job market – 03/19/2023 – Market

What studies show about the relationship between beauty and the job market – 03/19/2023 – Market

Marike, a South African model from Cape Town, poses at a photo shoot for an advertising campaign in London.

“Appearance is a very important factor in my field,” he says.

She chats to the BBC’s Business Daily radio show in a London cafe to talk about her work, which is heavily linked to her image.

Lunch arrives. He eats scrambled eggs and mashed avocado.

“You must look like the photos in your portfolio. You must take care of your image. If you are not good with yourself and maintain a healthy diet as well as an active lifestyle, your career is ruined”, she says.

Recent research indicates that life can be less harsh and more profitable for more attractive people.

According to labor market economist Daniel Hamermesh, these people earn on average $237,000 (R$1.2 million) more over a lifetime than equally qualified but less attractive people in the United States.

They are also more likely to be promoted at work, negotiate better loans, and attract more qualified and good-looking partners.

Free products and experiences

Recently, women have gained more advantages by posting photos on social networks.

“It’s amazing how nice people can be when they find you attractive.”

“I realized that I got hired for every job I applied to when I was a student, even though I didn’t have the necessary skills.”

“I’m also not charged for drinks or desserts at restaurants.”

All these statements were collected by Business Daily from several women.

And ironically, the very platforms used to expose and denounce the reality of this phenomenon are also largely responsible for legitimizing it.

Marike sees Instagram as an important social network for this to continue to happen.

“Companies invite you to free experiences and, in exchange, you sell the brand’s products. Just be an influencer for these brands, showing them on your account. You can drink and eat for free”, says the model.

“Having pretty girls enjoying the experience makes restaurants look good,” she adds.

But is it fair that someone is benefited only by their appearance or by characteristics that date from birth?

Marike argues that if you’re good-looking and manage to stay in shape, you should just enjoy it, especially to save money.

A career on Instagram

There are few better ways to identify the power of beauty than by observing an influencer, at least according to social media expert Hannah van de Peer.

“On Twitter, you don’t have to be visually appealing. What matters are your words, your political and cultural awareness. But you can have thousands of followers and reach and still need a full-time job to live,” says Van de Peer.

“On Instagram you can get paid and support a career promoting products or documenting your daily life with just your beauty. Brands and organizations will want to work with you. Reality TV will reach out to invite you to participate or host the show . You can make millions,” he adds.


Like it or not, the preference for pretty faces affects many areas of the economy and the job market.

In fact, it goes beyond the boundaries of Hollywood, social networks, commercials or other professional areas that involve the public’s attention.

“Even in universities, which don’t depend on attractive people, appearance matters. In economics, there are some recent studies that show that an attractive person earns more, gets better grades and gets better jobs,” says Hamermesh, professor of economics at the University of Texas, in the United States.

The specialist has been studying the effects of beauty on the economy for decades.

Hamermesh, who calculated that attractive people earn $237,000 (R$1.2 million) more over a lifetime than others, based it on an average wage of $20 (R$105) an hour.

Applying the logic used by him to the salaries of financial market managers and bankers, the difference will probably be even greater.

And there is also gender imbalance.

According to Hamermesh, handsome men earn more on a percentage basis than attractive women — and less attractive men earn less than less attractive women, on average.

His calculations are based on US data.

Although beauty and interest are subjective factors, influenced by other qualities such as intelligence, the expert argues that the effects of beauty in sectors such as the job market do not depend on this and that, at first sight, people are quite consistent when qualifying someone as attractive or not.

Hamermesh explains that this pattern dates back 200, 300 years — and that it’s a perception that continues to exist in some developing countries.

“Better looking means you’re healthier. And if you’re healthy in these societies, it means you’re good at reproducing. That’s not true in most western countries and industrialized societies today, but I, as a teacher, should win the same if I have the same skills as another more attractive teacher… but physical appearance is something that still matters”, explains the academic.

And the weight?

In addition to beauty, discrimination based on weight is also a reality in the job market.

This could be seen especially during the pandemic.

Many have struggled to shed the extra pounds they’ve gained working from home during quarantine.

Even the press even encouraged weight loss before returning to face-to-face work.

“Fat people are more likely to earn less than average-weight employees. This is linked to their perceived worth,” says Canadian author Emily Lauren Dick.

“Just look at how they are portrayed on television and in movies. People considered ugly and fat are seen as inferior: less intelligent, less likeable. This can lead to unfair treatment, bullying and harassment”, he says.

It is estimated that 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend US$ 33 billion (R$ 174 billion) a year on products that promise to help you lose weight, according to the Boston Medical Center, in the United States.

“Three-year-olds are having self-esteem issues. Society invests heavily in body ideals because meeting beauty standards guarantees benefits. We all want to be accepted and lead a happy life. Companies have made money on our insecurities,” says Lauren Dick.

unconscious bias

This reality contributes to an unconscious or implicit bias that favors the most attractive people.

And this can be harmful for the employee, impacting selection processes and promotions.

In a recent UK study by Sheffield Hallam University, employers were given identical resumes. First with pictures of fat people and then with pictures of thin people.

The researchers identified a clear selection bias in favor of thin people.

Such a scenario undermines diversity and inclusion in the labor market and raises questions about what companies can do to act against fatphobia.

Lauren Dick suggests changing some rules to ensure all body types are accepted.

Among them, conducting only audio interviews or introducing awareness courses for employees.

More and more people are speaking out against this preference for attractive people, and a change is starting to be noticed.

Marike, the South African model, says she needs to prove more and more that she is much more than a “pretty face”.

“Contractors are more interested in people or models who have a story and who do more than just walk the runway. Personality has become very important, and I think that’s really cool,” she says.

The preference for beauty has affected many for generations, but through representation in media and advertisements, it is possible to help dismantle this type of prejudice and create better opportunities for all.

This text was originally published here.

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