Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

As a study says attractive workers earn more money… Does ‘pretty privilege’ get you to the top? 


Clare Foges (pictured) says ‘winning the genetic lottery means the odds are already heavily in your favor’


By Clare Foges

If I went to a political networking event in my twenties, I’d make sure all the bases were covered.

Am I well informed? bill. Had I read the newspapers? bill. Was I fake tan, blow-dried, with false eyelashes so thick and luscious that, in the event of a storm, small animals could shelter beneath them? Check, check, check.

Although I wasn’t a Helen of Troy, in my twenties – with sincere thanks to Estee Lauder, Max Factor and friends – I was able to turn away the strange head. And of course I took advantage of that.

It worked in Westminster and was surrounded by politicians in gray suits, which made it look attractive. Sit in the central lobby of the Houses of Parliament for about an hour and you’ll see plenty of beautiful young women in high heels clicking past, their forms zipped into counterfeit Roland Mouret dresses, their eyes on the prize of a plum special advisor role.

These aren’t bimbos – far from it. They are smart girls who know that looking beautiful is a privilege. It opens doors, lubricates wheels and warms both men and women to you.

I know what I’m talking about because I’ve seen both sides of the beautiful wooden gate.

In my teens, I was the ultimate regular Jane, with glasses so thick my eyes grew smaller than peppercorns. Looking back from the mirror was a cross between Danger Mouse’s swotty sidekick Penfold and a potato. Then came a lot of makeup, hair dye, and contact lenses—and new vigor. It wasn’t just men who reacted differently to me, but also to other women.

Good looks are the great unrecognized superpower.

Sometimes I read a rags-to-riches story of a beautiful young woman who claims she stood up “against all odds” and I’ll scoff – because winning the genetic lottery means the odds are already stacked heavily in your favor . Beautiful women are seen as smarter, healthier, more competent – even moral, to the extent that beautiful privileges are likely to be felt in our legal system.

Good looks are the great unrecognized superpower

I have read several times about attractive young women committing serious crimes and receiving much lighter sentences than we would expect from a man found guilty of the same crime.

There’s a reason the global beauty industry is worth £370 billion. All those mascaras, facials, and creams are our attempt to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to love, success, and professional status.

Long before Cleopatra ringed in her eyes, beauty was a privilege. It may be unfair, but we don’t instruct people not to use their brains or sports talents or other genetic gifts. If women have ‘it’, who can blame them for using it to their advantage?

Janet Street-Porter (pictured) says 'women who use their looks to get ahead only get so far'

Janet Street-Porter (pictured) says ‘women who use their looks to get ahead only get so far’


By Janet Street-Porter

You’ve heard of sexism, racism, and ageism, but what about “lookism” — the subconscious habit many employers have of choosing people who are attractive, even if they may not be the best person for the job?

Handsome people aren’t just lucky, they are born with an unfair advantage because the rest of us are conditioned from birth to judge a person by his packaging.

Numerous academic studies show that attractive people have more self-confidence and better social skills, making them more employable. But – speaking like a former boss – does that make them a better bet than their less attractive peers to rise through the ranks?

I do not think so. I want colleagues to be smart, intelligent, resourceful, kind and funny. I don’t care what they look like.

And it seems I’m not the only one. While studies show that good-looking men can earn 13 percent more than less attractive guys, beautiful women, on the other hand, don’t fare as well, as they often rely on a high-earning partner to increase their income.

Beautiful people are often drawn to a career or work environment that allows them to exploit their appearance – social media, the beauty industry, modeling, acting and television. There they compete with other ‘perfect’ people.

Women who use looks to get ahead only go so far

But in the real world outside of these professions, when good-looking people fail, they tend to be treated harder than their peers. We secretly think “they had it coming” as a bit of a punishment for making the rest of us feel inept.

In any company, teams need a good mix, with very different personalities. Some people are good at details, others at brainstorming and developing ideas. Some want to stay in the background and hate the spotlight.

I’ve found – through decades of recruiting in television and print media – that assembling the group that will be loyal and turn your ideas into reality requires a vast array of skills.

The ability to look great in a swimsuit or attract millions of followers on TikTok is not one of them.

I’m not conventionally attractive and got where I am because of my brain. The women who use their looks to get ahead will only go so far. I don’t blame them, but I don’t have time for the naive bosses who fall for their charms.

They will find that brains and empathy beat the superficial charm of good looks in the long run.


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