Controversy Surrounding the "Beauty Premium"

Buttock and Breast Augmentation (NYC), Park Plaza Plastic Surgery New York (NY)

In mid-July Newsweek columnist Jessica Bennett re-ignited a long-simmering controversy about the impact of appearance on jobs, careers, and income. In combination with the column, the magazine published the results of its own survey of corporate hiring managers and members of the general public about the issue. The survey showed that fifty-seven percent of hiring managers believed qualified but unattractive candidates were likely to have a harder time getting a job. More than half of them also advocated that a candidate should spend as much time and money on making sure they look attractive as on perfecting a resume. Women, especially, were advised by 61% of managers to show off their figure at work. Overall, the hiring managers ranked looks as the third most important attribute, under experience and confidence. According to one New York recruiter, "It's better to be average and good-looking than brilliant and unattractive."

An economist has concluded that there is both a beauty premium and a dowdy deficit, and that these are both more significant for men than for women. Good-looking women made 3.9 % more than average-looking women, while unattractive women made 5.5 % less. For men the premium and deficit were 5.4 and 8.9%, respectively. Putting these terms in money, it means that, on average a good-looking man will make $250,000 more than his least-attractive counterpart over the course of a career.

However, does this mean that men should get a nose job to help job prospects, or a woman get breast augmentation or liposuction to catch the eye of hiring managers? Not everyone thinks so. Some point to a study of women in Shanghai where the beauty premium for attractiveness was a full 10%. But the study also showed that for every $1 they received in pay bonus, they spent $7 on cosmetics and clothing. Obviously, this does not necessarily have any bearing on plastic surgery, and no study has yet charted the impact of cosmetic procedures on income.

One thing that this discussion generally neglects, and which I think tips the scale in favor of plastic surgery for many candidates: confidence. Confidence, as the second most important factor in hiring, can make a big difference in a person's professional life. If you have a physical characteristic that makes you feel less confident or has the ability to distract you in an interview, it can become a serious impediment to your ability to get a job or interact successfully with co-workers.

If you have a physical characteristic that makes it difficult for you to feel comfortable and confident in professional and personal situations, plastic surgery may be able to help. Please call or email today to schedule a consultation with New York plastic surgeon Dr. George Lefkovits to learn more.