If you earn 10-15% less than someone who does the same job, you’re paying the price of being less attractive.
The average cost of being ugly is $230,000 out of your paycheck, over your working lifetime.
Deduct another significant chunk from your salary if you are obese, but only if you are female. Fat women earn about $14,000 less per year than their average-weight sisters, or about 12% if you are Caucasian and 7% if you are African-American. On the other hand, remarkably thin women earn $2,000 more each year than the average woman on the job.
While fat men get a pass, thin men pay a hefty price. Their salary averages $9,000 less per year than their average or big-boned brothers.
When you compare a man 6’ to one 5’5”, you are talking $5,525 in added income for the big guy. But it’s still a game of inches for a man 5’10” who earns $950 less in annual pay on average, versus the six-footer. Taller women make 5-8% more than average women, for every three extra inches they tower above the ordinary.
While most of these personal statistics are clear-cut: taller, fatter, blonde or bald for example – apparently, even ugly is pretty easy to agree on. Over half the people rated as ugly were given identical scores by more than half the respondents in a study cited by Daniel S. Hamermesh, a professor of economics at the University of Texas, Austin in his new book, Beauty Pays.
How you look directly affects the outcomes in your life. It’s a fact of life that people prefer to buy from better looking sales representatives. Jurors’ decisions favor good-looking attorneys. The electorate leans toward photogenic political leaders.
The reasons may come down to how you were handled from the get-go. Cute babies get more attention from their parents. Adorable toddlers are, well, adored. The legacy of attracting positive attention breeds a certain kind of social ease, a charm that lasts a lifetime. Being well loved may also prevent you from overeating or being careless about your grooming habits.
All these qualities lead to the real reason we like attractive people more: they are self-confident. We intuitively believe that if you like you, then we should like you, too!
How can you add “attractive” to your personal brand? It’s pretty simple. Change what you can control.
Posture matters. People who put their legs up on a desk or otherwise pose in an aggressive manner – chest puffed out or leaning forward – actually change their own neurochemistry. Such posing raises your testosterone by 20% and lowers your stress hormone by the same amount. That looks like self-confidence. Of course, you can’t walk around pretending you’re Superman all day, so actually being buff would cut down on the posing and the extra weight. Get to a gym.
Face the facts. Men with facial hair are viewed negatively by 60% of business people. About the same percentage of directors appreciated women wearing make-up. For either gender, an attractive face-framing haircut goes a long way. Get a makeover or at least, a good hair stylist. If you’re bald, think Bruce Willis or Samuel L. Jackson, not Clint Howard.
Of course, it’s not perfection but self-love and self-confidence that trump any cosmetic change – including plastic surgery according to current studies.
I recommend this exercise to my clients. Create a list of everything that makes you feel confident – the family and friends who adore you, the work that you excel at, and the skills, interests, qualities, beliefs and values you have that give you a sense of security, purpose and joy. Keep the list where you can see it, and add to it regularly. Fill a journal with notes of that appreciation.
That will buoy your self-confidence, which helps us appreciate you. After all, wealth is all about getting your assets to appreciate.
Nance Rosen is the author of Speak Up! & Succeed. She speaks to business audiences around the world and is a resource for press, including print, broadcast and online journalists and bloggers covering social media and careers. Read more at NanceRosenBlog. Twitter name: nancerosen