Friday, April 07, 2006

Beauty is only pocket-deep

Ok, ok, ok, I admit that the Hooter-girl on the motorcycle is not me. I am WAAAYYY more bodacious than that... well, at least I have tighter abs. But on the topic of looks, here are a couple of things that caught my eye over the last few days that happen to relate to beauty and money.

NY Times article in the City section 4/2/06: Golden Girls

"When I moved here after college... I didn't realize that along with rent, phone and utilities, I'd have this huge expense for hair."

This article looks at the unique breed they identify as "New York Blondes," many of whom pay hundreds of dollars a month to keep their tresses the color of champagne, chardonnay, maize, or butter. Some stylists charge $500 or more for highlights, and the "really chic" customers are in the salon every 2 weeks. Some of the women interviewed see their beauty expenses as "not only worth it, [but] necessary." Those who work in fashion, media, high-end real estate, etc. say they are expected to look good to be successful, and blonde hair is seen as a symbol of power and status. "The New York Blonde embodies a lot of the values of our materialistic society. She is thinner, blonder, richer than the rest of us, and she has better shoes. Hair that gorgeous is hard to attain. She creates in the viewer a sense of lack, a message that says, 'I have more than you.' This is power."

NY Times article in the Business section 4/6/06: Beauty and the Fattened Wallet
"Employers (wrongly) expect good-looking workers to perform better than their less-attractive counterparts..."

I think most people would intuitively say that it's true that beautiful people are likely to make more money. Some economists from Wesleyan University did a really interesting study about whether that was really the case, and why. They discovered that in controlled tests involving solving mazes, prospective employers were more likely to want to hire attractive people, not because they were actually any better at their tasks, but because they were thought to be more productive and more confident in themselves. "Being beautiful seems to be strongly associated with self-confidence, a trait that is apparently attractive to employers." The weird thing is that employers thought the beautiful people were more productive even when they didn't see what they looked like-- their confidence came through even when the only interaction was a telephone interview. The other fascinating conclusion of the study is that people have higher expectations of beautiful people and are more disappointed when beautiful people let them down. As the writer of the article says, "the rest of us can take solace in the fact that it is easier for us to meet expectations." The rest of YOU, that is. I'm a Hooters hottie myself.


Unknown said...

How would you like to be in the control group for the Wesleyan study?

Madame X said...

Yeah, really! Did people have to respond to an ad that said "seeking ugly men and women of all ages" or something like that??

Anonymous said...

For the REST of us, you will have to do a follow up article on the financial benefit calculations of the necessary cosmetic surgeries needed to MAKE us beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Blondes have more fun... blah, blah, blah, blah, blaaaaaah....

I'm a gay Asian (Gay-sian... get it?) guy with brown skin and black hair and nearly debt free... I'm having more fun than any blonde spending hundreds of dollars a month maintaining her locks.


mapgirl said...

I have to say, since I'm Asian, it's nice not having to get expensive highlights to make my hair look good. I just work on keeping it shiny and sleek with drugstore products. Though this morning I did fantasize that I worked at a company that let me dye my hair in crazy colors.