Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ugly people make ugly wages?

Do good looking people enjoy more success in PR and Communications? This was a recent question posed in one of my online LinkedIn groups. While people have their own preferences when it comes to what they consider attractive, studies have shown that, in general, women and men are attracted to certain “things.” Women, on average, tend to be more attracted to men who have a relatively narrow waist, a V-shaped torso, and broad shoulders, are taller than they are, and display a high-degree of facial symmetry, and relatively masculine facial dimorphism (basically a face that visually differentiates from a woman).

Men, on average, tend to place a higher value on physical appearance in a partner than women do. Men, on average, tend to be more attracted to women who are shorter than they are, have a youthful appearance and exhibit features such as a symmetrical face, full breasts, full lips, and a low waist-hip ratio. So how does this affect your salary?

A July 2005 USA Today article by Stephanie Armour found that how you look is influential. “In a recent analysis, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reviewed various economic studies to find possible links between looks and wages. The study's conclusion: A worker with below-average looks tended to earn significantly less -- on average 9% less -- per hour than an above-average-looking employee. And those with above-average looks tended to earn 5% more than their average-looking colleagues.

courtesy of

 ‘If someone looks like Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts, and society values that, that attribute is built into wages,’ says Michael Owyang, an economist who worked on the analysis.”

Two people who will have no problem finding employment.

We all know that how we dress has an impact on how we are perceived – especially in a field such as media and public relations. PR gurus Jessica Kleiman and Meryl Weinsaft Cooper said it best in an article this month, “Public relations is an image business and how you look is as much your calling card as the one in your wallet.”

But we’re talking about a person’s features, not their clothes. Can your physical features hinder or propel your success? Dr. Gordon Patzer has been studying this for more than 30 years. It is what he calls the Physical Attractiveness Phenomenon, a concept devised of many years of scholarly scientific research.

“Physical Attractiveness Phenomenon can be reasonably summarized as a four step process whereby (1) appearance via physical attractiveness serves as an informational cue, (2) from which extensive information is inferred, (3) that triggers assumptions, expectations, attitudes, and behaviors, (4) causing pervasive, powerful effects/consequences that are generally beneficial for people whose appearance is higher in physical attractiveness and detrimental for people whose appearance is lower in physical attractiveness,” according to

To summarize some of the findings:

• Appearance is a compelling informational cue, from which extensive information is inferred, attitudes formed, and behaviors caused.

• Determinants of appearance are many and complicated: physical and non-physical, permanent and temporary, congenital from birth and developed throughout life.

• Dynamics of appearance are pervasive, powerful, and often unrecognized, unacknowledged, or denied.

• Consequences of appearance, especially as appearance is inseparable from or inextricably interrelated with physical attractiveness, are overwhelmingly in one direction.

Body Fat = Thin Pockets?

So what now? How do you proceed? First, to stay ahead of the game, I guess we would need to figure out if we’re attractive or not. So I went to the most credible online source on the issue there is …. I delved headfirst into the quiz, anxious to know the results. And then, the numbers were in …I scored a 68.75 %. In attractiveness terms, according to the experts, I am a 7 on a scale of 1-10, ten being the hottest. Some would say that isn’t bad for a chunky girl. But according to the UK’s Daily Mail, my career may be in jeopardy.

I have been a plus-sized woman most of my adult life.
“Overweight women, according to medical research, are far more likely to lose their jobs. They are also more likely to be a victim of crime - or a criminal. And as if all that wasn't enough, they are also more likely to be broke.” In Africa, however, (particularly in Mauritania) large women are held in high regard. It means they come from a wealthy family (can afford food) and are fit for marriage. In fact, some men actively go out seeking the curvaceous beauties.

So in a parallel universe, if I were living in Africa with a subscription to Schwan’s, I’d be beating men and employment opportunities back with a stick. If I resided in the UK, I’d be a broke criminal. (I am booking my airline ticket to Africa as as I write.)

When it comes to physical attractiveness and salaries, I believe confidence comes more in to play. On the social effects of physical attractiveness, Wikipedia suggests, “When a person is seen as attractive or unattractive, assumptions are brought into play. Across cultures, what is beautiful is assumed to be good. Attractive people are assumed to be more extroverted, popular, and happy. This could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy; from a young age, attractive people receive more attention that helps them develop these characteristics.”

A healthy dose of confidence can do wonders. When you feel good about yourself, you walk taller, laugh louder and are more comfortable in your skin. We all have aspects of ourselves that can cause some minor feeling of insecurity, but learning to generally appreciate who you are will yield positive results. Certified Personal and Professional Strategy Coach Jonathan Wells, agrees that confidence is important. “In reality, self-confidence is often a more important asset than skill, knowledge, or even experience … People have a natural tendency to trust you more when you seem confident. To the subconscious mind confidence equals competence. Does that seem unfair? Well ask yourself if you would hire someone who seemed unsure of their own abilities? If you needed surgery, would you use a doctor whose first impression left you wondering how he got his license to practice? It wouldn’t matter how impressive his credentials were, you would find someone else.

“Confidence creates trust, and everyone wants to be able to trust the people they do business with, become friends with and fall in love with. If you want to be trusted by others, you must first trust yourself.”

Think about it? Have you ever been around a person that just had that “it”? They weren’t necessarily drop-dead gorgeous or fit the “typical” ideals of beauty, but they had zeal, oomph, that wow factor? It’s because some people just ooze confidence and command our attention. So while I believe how you carry yourself will absolutely assist you in climbing up or falling down the success ladder, blaming it on your parent’s DNA is a little far-fetched.

We all need daily confidence boosters. We perform better when we feel better. Click here for 25 great tips. And ask yourself, what makes you feel confident?

1 comment:

  1. Definitely agree with what you stated. Your explanation was certainly the easiest to understand about "Ugly people make ugly wages?" Thanks and regards...