Sorry, you’re not attractive enough to be promoted.

Baristas. Flight attendants. Journalists. Receptionists. Lawyers. Sales people. Actors. Just a handful of jobs from the overwhealming number of industries that not-so-secretly hire and promote attractive people over plain-looking, overweight or ugly applicants. Our appearance is thwarting the importance of skill, aptitude and the consideration of who is truly harder working. In fact, appearance is emerging in legal disputes as a new kind of discrimination.

Lookism’, it is claimed, is the new racism, and should be banished from civilised societies. As if that’s going to happen. Really.

After several court actions in the United States, economist Daniel Hamermesh is suggesting that ugly people deserve legal protection from their own appearance, as he believes ugliness is no different from race or a disability.

‘My research shows being good-looking helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse and even get better deals on mortgages,’ he said.

‘Some people are born ugly and there’s not much they can do about it. You’re pretty much stuck with your looks.”

However, those with sex appeal and attractive looks – particularly women – find themselves being the centre of attention in the office limelight. Statistically they are promoted much faster and some far beyond their level of ability, while more capable employees, even after many years of loyalty and hard work, are overlooked or ignored: simply because they aren’t attractive people.

This is a theory shared by a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics, sociologist Catherine Hakim. Incredibly, she seeks to further the discrimination between attractive an unattractive by encouraging female employees to exploit their good looks – over their ability- to get further in their working life. She is the author of the new book Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital

Apparently, if women want to take on the male-dominated workplace, all they need to do is wield their sexual prowess, be aware of the male “sex deficit”, use their “erotic capital” and, voila! They can easily get what they want, as long as they realise that it’s their looks, beauty and sexuality that will get them there.

Would you promote me? Image Source: http://chappysthoughts.com/tag/the-office/

Erotic Capital

Against everything that a modern feminist would stand for, Hakim defines this as “a nebulous but crucial combination of beauty, sex appeal, skills of self-presentation and social skills“, which she reckons should be employed in the workplace to get what a woman wants.

She also argues that women have been ignoring their erotic capital for so long because of the patriarchal ideologies that have “systematically trivialised women’s erotic capital to discourage women from capitalising on it – at men’s expense”.

When Intentious covered this in depth back in August, writer Mary-Ellen argued,

“[this] is nothing less than the legalisation of prostitution and other ‘sex work’. Schopenhauer would undoubtedly applaud her but I do not.

… As far as Hakim is concerned, the people who tell young people (especially young women) that their beauty and sex appeal are of little importance are ugly, morally, if not physically.

Read more: http://intentious.com/2011/08/28/erotic-capital-a-sexual-free-market/#comment-749

On the side of the plain-lookers, economist Daniel Hamermesh concedes, ‘People who appear to be conventionally beautiful have fewer barriers to workplace success,’ and insists the number of lawsuits claiming “lookism” will only grow.

In a most recent case, Shirley Ivey, 61, is suing her former employer for ‘lookism’. Ivey, left her job after her supervisor told her that he would like her more if she was prettier.

More often than not it seems qualities outrank skill, intelligence or character pay off.

Here’s an example: Anna Kournikova is ranked 37th in women’s tennis, and has never won a major singles championship. So, why is it that Kournikova makes millions more dollars from endorsements than players ranked higher? You decide.

(Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/blogs/ask-sam/the-power-of-erotic-capital-20110907-1jx06.html)

Are lawsuits, therefore, fair: should “ugly” people or “plain Janes” be allowed to cry discrimination in a court of law for observing the success of attractive counterparts?
Is there someone in your workplace guilty of this?
Do you think you’ve been denied a job over someone prettier? Tell us below.

Worth a pay rise to keep her.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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8 Comments on “Sorry, you’re not attractive enough to be promoted.”

  1. September 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Hahaha, it would be a brave person to comment much on this.

    As an average looking man I can say that good-looking men get a much smoother ride through life than I. Rather, they get the interviews/dates/attention of other people more easily, however, once I’ve been let in and given a chance to show my stuff, I don’t feel threatened by them anymore. Looks may get you noticed, but if you haven’t got the goods you won’t keep that date/job/promotion/attention long.

    If they have both the looks and the goods, good on them I say. But I suspect the hierarchy goes more like this:

    1. Goods and looks.
    2. Goods, but no looks.
    3. Looks, but no goods.
    4. Neither looks nor goods.

  2. September 12, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    Attractiveness is just one aspect of a person as a whole, and each context needs to be given the right amount of weight in relation to other considerations like experience and ability. I would certainly be upset if I thought that someone had been promoted over me in my job, not because they were more capable, but because they were more attractive. Then again, in my job, looks don’t matter too much. In some jobs, they do.

    Take Anna Kournikova. Being attractive doesn’t make her a better tennis player. Her ranking in the tennis world is not based on her appearance. But being attractive DOES make her better than her colleagues when it comes to success in her other line of work – selling things to people using her image. Her particular combination of sporting talent, personality and attractiveness make her the “right” person for this job.

    In the majority of jobs, looks will have some bearing on your ability to perform in that role. People prefer to interact with attractive people, and even judge them to be more capable, trustworthy and intelligent than less attractive people – sad perhaps, but true. So your success in any job where you have face-to-face contact with your colleagues or clients is likely to be influenced somewhat by your physical appearance. If we make discrimination based on looks illegal, where does it end? A naturally stupid person can’t claim discrimination when they miss out on a promotion in favour of someone more intelligent. Boring, socially inept types are not expected to be given jobs as talk-show hosts and tour guides, even if their knowledge of the subject matter is superior. You won’t see me suing the Australian Institute of Sport because they put people with some athletic ability on the Olympic team instead of me! Let’s face it, if we couldn’t discriminate between people in some ways, we’d all be worse off.

    We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Some fortunate people seem to end up with looks, brains, personality and talent, and a few unfortunates have very little of any of these. We can’t help that. All we can do is focus on our strengths, and try to find a niche in society that makes the best use of what we have.

  3. Trina
    January 27, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I’m pretty but not pretty enough apparently and married. Since I’ve been at my job for the last 9 years two younger prettier “girls” have been promoted and moved to other departments, one of them was having an affair with my boss. And he recently told another very pretty 21 year old that “she is going places” despite their extreme lack of qualifications and awful grammer these women were promoted and I have been at the same level I was when I came in. My boss never looks me in the eye when he sees me in the hall or lunch room…go figure.

    • January 30, 2012 at 11:06 am #

      It’s very unfair isn’t it Trina! Thanks for sharing. Perhaps you can try and work your way up a level by holding your current workplace ransom in favour of a jump-ship new job offer? 😉 Flex those interview muscles

  4. Bongstar420
    October 18, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    People are pushovers!

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