Are attractive people given unfair advantages in your workplace?

Jonny Thakkar, a lecturer in philosophy and humanities at Princeton University, makes the case at Aeon magazine that ugly people are oppressed.

We don’t choose the configuration of our facial features any more than we choose our skin colour, yet people discriminate based on looks all the time. As the psychologist Comila Shahani-Denning put it, summarising research on the topic in Hofstra Horizons in 2003: ‘Attractiveness biases have been demonstrated in such different areas as teacher judgments of students, voter preferences for political candidates and jury judgments in simulated trials … attractiveness also influences interviewers’ judgments of job applicants.’ From the toddler gazing up at the adult to the adult gazing down at the toddler, we ruthlessly privilege the beautiful. The ugly get screwed.

Today’s Question: Are attractive people given unfair advantages in your workplace?

  • PaulJ

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder so it is only fair those who are seen as pleasant are treated more pleasantly (in other words, it is a two way street).
    But if you are really talking about ‘hot’. I find that we (sorry, I mean people in that category) are often shunned.

  • Jim G

    Yes, they have an advantage, and I’m not going to begrudge them for it. I still fondly remember when the attractive, smart coed I met 41 years ago at the University smiled at me. Tall people also have known work place advantages, and are proven earn more than their shorter peers over their careers. However, we shorter ones with average looks also have skills we can leverage to our advantage. The best advantage anyone can bring to social encounters is confidence. A sense of knowing and liking yourself is contagious, so don’t be afraid to spread it around.

  • Sue de Nim

    It takes a professional philosopher to make that case? Folklore and literature down through the centuries is replete with the theme of attractive people being overrated and unattractive people being underrated. Think of King Saul on the one hand, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame on the other. Think of the Ugly Duckling, Beauty and the Beast, and the Frog Prince. Think of the myths of the Siren and the Lorelei. This is something we’ve known basically forever, which is why we’ve found it necessary to tell cautionary tales to teach ourselves to look past surface appearances.

  • Yanotha Twangai

    Our instinctive prejudice in favor of attractive people is genetic. We’ve evolved through natural selection to have a sense of what’s attractive that roughly correlates with health and vigor, because choosing healthy, vigorous mates and allies tends to result in greater reproductive success. However, what is and what should be are two different things. It takes effort to rise above one’s base instinct to do what’s right, and the decision to look for “inward beauty” in others has to be conscious.

  • kevins

    Yes they are. Bummer for the rest of us.

  • Gary F

    Really? They just figured this out, huh??

    Are ugly people are the new victim class for big government social engineering types?

    What new Thought Crimes will be created by the Ministry Of Thruth for ugly people?

    • JQP

      Shades of Gary Allen.

      • Gary F


  • Pearly

    Im sure it happens but then you may be stuck with lesser quality help. If you are good looking and cant perform, I got no room for you in my shop.

  • JQP

    Jonny Thakkur is wading into the brackish mix of hardwired biological-survival instincts and softwired cutlural definitions.

    Oppression is willful. What he documents doesn’t broach that term. More like systemic lack of support.

  • Michele

    The advantages given are relative to the situation. I understand that not everyone hits the jackpot in the genetic lottery, but I have see the reverse of this situation where an attractive person is in fact not given the advantage. We all analyze someone’s appearance, but not all of us make decisions based on that analysis. If in fact that you are a victim of being denied an advantage because of your beauty or lack there of, then you can be proud of the hard work that you did all by yourself. Personally, I don’t like having an unfair advantage over anyone, but there are those of us that don’t mind.

  • davehoug

    Are attractive people given unfair advantages in your workplace? = = = NO ! ! They get advantage in EVERY situation, not just workplace. Pretty girl smiling at cop after speeding anyone 🙂