The Good Looking Advantage at Work

Image: Bob RosnerStudies show that good looking people have an easier time at work.

I still laugh when I remember the Daily Show’s segment on John Roberts Supreme Court hearings, entitled, “Judge Cutie” (with the same logo as Judge Judy). And that wasn’t the only press coverage that included a reference to the fact that Roberts was good looking.

And here I thought that the only candidates for high office who were selected on the “babe” factor were John Edwards, Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin. Before you jump to the conclusion that this workplace blog has been hijacked by a political commentary, studies show that good looks don’t only resonate in Vice Presidents and Supreme Court Justices; they also carry a great deal of weight back at work.

According to an article in the USA Today (a newspaper, by the way, well known for its appearance) male CEO’s were, on average, 3 inches taller than the average man. Another study found that an increase in a woman’s body mass resulted in a decrease in her family income and job prestige. And finally more than 20% of very overweight employees have low morale, double the average for employees with healthy weights.

Will the tyranny of the pretty ever end? The good looking people called the shots in high school and it looks like they’re still calling ‘em all these years later.

I decided that rather than complaining and criticizing people who are good looking, I would interview a bunch of attractive people to get their take on this issue (it’s a tough job and I decided to make this sacrifice for you, dear reader). What I learned was fascinating. Every good looking person I talked to admitted that there were many times in their lives that they had stuff handed to them. But they also described times where their ideas weren’t taken seriously or where there was retribution simply because of their looks.

These conversations were a revelation to this average-looking blogster. I knew from personal experience that not-pretty people suffered because of their appearance. I was fascinated to discover that pretty people also experience rejection for—yes, you guessed it—their looks.

So I’m making a plea. Let’s all move past high school and start to judge people for the content of their character and for the quality of their ideas. People Magazine’s best looking people issue may be a fun read—but it’s an ugly way to do business.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa is a 3L at Syracuse University College of Law. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism. With her legal research and writing for Workplace Fairness, she strives to equip people with the information they need to be their own best advocate.