Lookism, or ranking an individual based on attractiveness, is a prevalent employment prejudice. Research has shown that looks influence salaries, career growth and even hiring (Warhurst, van den Broek, Hall, & Nickson, 2009). Because it is difficult to prove, there is no legislation that specifically addresses lookism. The current economy gives employers a vast selection of job applicants and candidates for open positions and “beauty premiums” (individuals considered above average with pretty faces) may have a better chance at being hired. According to a Newsweek national survey (2010) of 202 human resource staff which revealed that corporate hiring managers indicated appearances are critical – managers rank employee looks as the third most important feature, even above formal education. Economists have disclose statistics that “handsome men earn 5% more money on average than less good looking men while more attractive women earn 4% more than less good-looking women (Bernett, 2010, p.1). Furthermore, 13% of women and 10% of men would go as far as cosmetic surgery to excel at work if it meant it is career advancement.

Maintaining a prescribed appearance is necessary in an appearance focused society; it is not optional anymore. What are the costs of beauty and how can individuals in diverse economic positions keep up with these costs? What magnitude of debt do men and women incur to maintain a competitive appearance?


Bennett, J. (2010). The Beauty Advantage: How Looks Affect Your Work, your Career, Your Life. Newsweek. Retrieved from http://www.newsweek.com/beauty-advantage-how-looks-affect-your-work-your-career-your-life-74313

Warhurst, C., van den Broek, D., Hall, R. & Nickson, D. (2009). Lookism: The New Frontier of Employment Discrimination? Journal of Industrial Relations; 51; 131.