Daniel Hamermesh sports a luscious and handsome beard, made grey with age, and a shiny dome that many men his age are accustomed to having due to the curse of balding. The 71-year-old American professor reckons that on an attractiveness scale of 1 to 5, he is firmly in the middle – 3. He’s the average grandfather Joe on the street, a face not built for second glances. Yet, Hamermesh is convinced of one fact of life – good-looking people are more successful in life.
Hamermesh has devoted most of his academic career studying the effects of beauty and published a book in 2011, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People are More Successful. According to Hamermesh’s research, in an entire lifetime, good-looking folks tend to earn 3 to 4 percent more than an average bloke. That might not seem like much but, over the course of your life, that attractive person will earn an additional $230,000. Even average Joes like Hamermesh will have, on average, $140,000 more in their bank accounts compared to an ugly employee.
To rub it in further, good-looking people are usually the first ones to be hired during a recession.
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In another study conducted by Timothy Judge, he found out that taller employees can expect to earn almost $800 more annually for every inch of height in disparity. When it comes to horizontal length, researchers from the George Washington University came to the conclusion that obese workers were paid less than those within the healthy weight range. Interestingly, the salary differential between fat women and fat men was rather significant – obese women were paid about $9,000 less than their normal-weight counterparts while obese men earned $5,000 less than their normal-weight compatriots.
“You would think that you could find examples of occupations where being unattractive wouldn’t hurt you at all but in every one I have looked at, being better-looking helps you. The only counter example I’ve seen is a study showing that if you commit armed robbery or theft, it pays to be uglier. The white-collar criminals are more successful if they are better-looking. But, for crimes involving force, I would rather be an ugly robber because I would scare the guys and they would give me the money faster,” says Hamermesh.
Fortunately, not all hope is lost for those who didn’t get lucky with the genetic roulette. Even though your facial features might not be the paragon of symmetry, you can still create an attractive impression with the clothes you wear and the physical activities you do outside of the office.
• Women who wear make-up are paid more
Not only do women who put on make-up earn more (30 percent more on average) but the people they interact with also rate them higher in competence and trustworthiness, based on a study done by Procter & Gamble, Harvard Medical School, Boston University and other institutes.
• People who work out regularly get paid more
That amount of money you paid for a gym membership? Consider it an investment that will reap you rewards at the workplace. Workers who exercise regularly earn 9 percent more than employees who consider getting off the couch as a workout.
• Plastic surgery is not the answer
In monetary terms, Hamermesh has done the math and the result is that the amount spent is not a good investment. Surgery pays back less than a dollar for every dollar spent.
Now is not the time to throw a pity party for one though. There are many successful people out there who aren’t exactly Greek gods. The key is to maximise your strengths and beautify the rest. Wear clothes that flatter you and consume food items that are good for your body, as it will show on your face and on your skin. Keep that heart rate up. Get a nice haircut. Groom yourself. After all, Hamermesh isn’t exactly the epitome of attractiveness but his beard and tie is definitely a thing of beauty.