Pretty People Get Better Careers: On Beauty and How it Matters at Work
Am I too fat for this job? That is a question that will quite obviously strike anyone who wished to walk the ramp and romance the camera. In a general context, however, the question will seem a little bit too out of the place. Surprisingly, it is not! You have to look the part that you are playing. And, look fit to play it too. Imagine a Chaplin looking like a Madonna – seems an image misfit. Doesn’t it?
In a news report published in the New York magazine, titled, “Obama in Need of Gender-Sensitivity Training”, President Obama has been quoted describing California Attorney General Kamala Harris “as by far, the best looking attorney general.” The statement is, to a large extent, indicative of the fact that women in power are often judged by their appearance. The attractiveness quotient sets some requirement for them to seem in power.
The Trade-Off between Beauty and Power
An undeniable truth that The Economist recently talked about in a news titled “The economics of good looks – The line of beauty” talks about various impacts of appealing appearance in important matters. The news points out, “Women have traditionally traded looks for economic support in marriage. A Chinese study confirms that the husbands of unappealing women earn about 10% less than those of their dishier counterparts. Attractive people also have an easier time getting a loan than plain folks, even as they are less likely to pay it back. They receive milder prison sentences and higher damages in simulated legal proceedings.”
Facets of Appearance
Having said that, here is a breather for the average-looking guy or girl seeking a corporate job – While looks matter, communication skills form 50% part of the package that companies are looking for. The rest of the package comprises dressing sense, body language, height and weight. While the former two are essentially a part of grooming, the latter two, are sometimes, beyond your control. However, it’s the latter two that are, unfortunately, yet entirely from a professional perspective, shown to be taken much more seriously.
While most women are judged if overweight, men are pinned down if they fall short of the standard 5 feet 11 inches. A Forbes survey highlights the fact that “Of those surveyed, 16% said it’s important for men to be tall, compared to just 6% for women.” This is but another form of gender bias, which differs only because it affects men instead of women, breaking the stereotype that gender bias affects only women.
The ongoing debate today is whether women should concentrate on wearing their lipstick right or on delivering results. If all their concentration goes into power dressing, where will they get time for proving their actual and intellectual power? What use will the power be if it’s just for show? And then, the male dominant society will blame the women for not being good enough. It’s a vicious circle from here onwards – the women will try to impress with appearance and fail to impress in results. Only if there is balance can there be success.