Why Good Looks Can Be a Curse

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Barbie Series: Neuroplastic Surgery: When Too Much Beauty Is Not Enough


To hear cosmetic surgeons in China and South Korea tell it, beauty is the key to securing a good job with high wages. Writing in The Daily Beast, however, Jessica Bennett from Newsweek notes that being beautiful does come with significant downsides for those looking to climb the corporate ladder.


We've already presented a more academic study out of Asia that questions the "beauty=wealth" premise from a purely economic standpoint.

Here's a second look from the United States from a more social perspective exploring why "good looks can be a curse," particularly for professional women aspiring to high-paying jobs.

According to one study from a dating site, men actually found women with minor "flaws" more attractive, ignoring the women widely considered to be the most attractive. At least to some men, it seems, a woman can be too pretty. It not just that "perfect" is not exciting; sometimes it's too intimidating.

Then there is the stereotype to deal with.

While Barbie ® may be a beauty standard, glamorous women face the burden of prejudice from both male and female peers, who often consider them inherently less competent, less talented, less loyal, more spoiled, and more superficial ("the bimbo effect").

"True lookers" are more likely to be categorized as fit to be good receptionists or secretaries (or, in the United States, politicians) but not tough enough for real leadership roles like CEO, director of finance, or research managers.

Lastly comes the truism that while "Looks may get you in the door, they won't keep you there," or at least not looks alone. According to the author, "corporate hiring managers told Newsweek that confidence and experience were still the most important assets."

APSG Comment: Especially in developing countries but really everywhere on earth, there is the unquestioned assumption (heavily reinforced by the beauty industry) that better looks are the key to landing a job and making tons of money. In reality, it may help with the former but probably not much with the latter.

Alas, brains still matter. Might this signal a demand for a brand new subspecialty catering to those who still want to believe that success can bought by going under the knife?

Don't be too surprised to see it soon: The Association of Neuroplastic Surgeons. (Okay, sorry.)

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Neuroplastic Surgery: Call for a New Cosmetic Specialty