Time Magazine has an article stating that the “difference between earnings between the typical good-looking worker and the below-average-looking worker over a lifetime is $230,000.”
David Hammerish has spent 20 years researching this and wrote about it in his new book, Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful. Evidently, 59% of men are average (I’m betting because the bar is lower) and 51% of women are average, while 27% of men are good-looking and 31% of women are good-looking, only 2% of men are strikingly handsome and 3% of women are strikingly beautiful. The majority of us agree on who is and who isn’t.
My bet is, the only people who really know this better than good looking people are average looking or below-average looking people.
Think about it: if Gloria Steinem were ugly would anyone really have paid attention? Probably not.
I’m pretty certain that I’ve gotten a few jobs because of my looks. And I’ve lost at least one because I had roots and wore the wrong clothes (yeah, that Texas socialite actually took me out back and told me my looks were unacceptable).
We talk the talk and tell our girls that beauty doesn’t matter, that looks aren’t what counts. But, from a very early age, they know we’re lying. When Ainsley was barely two, she had clearly defined ideas about what was beautiful and what was not. She knew it counted for a lot in this life. She cared very much about what kinds of clothes she wore. As she’s gotten older, it has only mattered more.
As parents, we know this is true and we care deeply about it. This is why we’ll spend hundreds every year on school clothes. This is why we’ll spend thousands on braces and retainers. Why we’ll spend money on cool haircuts and accessories. This is why many of us had hair wars with our mothers that left emotion battle scars, curling iron burns and hideous photographs of bad perms and ’80s bangs. This is why many of us have hair wars with our daughters that are sure to leave future emotional battle scars and burns on their ears from Chi’s. This is why black girls spend millions of dollars every year in relaxers and weaves (I just saw Chris Rock’s Good Hair, oh my). It’s why more than one parent I know has prayed their sons got the tall gene.
This is why I’m letting Ainsley whiten her teeth. She has “mottled teeth.” I Googled it. It’s a discoloration of teeth caused by fluoridation in the water when children are getting their adult teeth. When she was little, she had perfect pearly white teeth. They grew in yellowed in some areas and white in others. She noticed. How could she not? Other kids notice and comment on it. This does not sit well with her. How could it? I noticed, probably long before she did. I had already talked to the dentist about it. I had already decided we were doing something to fix it as soon as possible, well before she brought it up. But, when she brought it up, well, it was a no-brainer. Whitening strips it is. We’ll have them Zoom! whitened at the dentist if we have to. Cost be damned.
The only surprising part is that looks matter more for men than for women. Above average men earn 17% more than below average men, while above average women earn 12% more than below average women.
Hammerish says that plastic surgery won’t change your attractiveness rating, or your income. His advice: You get what your born with. Work with what you’ve got and focus on your other strengths. Oh, and he rates himself a 3.