However, things changed when I moved to China. Chinese people tend to like tall, light skin, light hair, light eyes, big eyes guys (i.e.: me). I'm probably in the top 1% in China, if not more (I'm not bragging, ask any decent looking guy who's been there that matches the description). I believe my newly found handsomeness opened me up to multiple opportunities. Here's two examples (among many others).
One time, in Starbucks, a CEO from a Hong Kong private equity firm started talking to me. After some chat, he knew I was the ideal candidate for this big software project he had in mind. Anecdote: He was reckless enough to use my computer to login onto his business email account. Hell, he probably didn't even notice I was running Ubuntu.
Another time, I met a guy in a bar. He started serving me drinks as he noticed I was attracting pretty girls around the table. He told me that he owned multiple consumer electronics stores in China. A few days later, he was calling me to discuss the possibility of me opening up and managing a new store for him in Hong Kong.
I like to think that "knowing I was handsome" gave me a lot of confidence which is what really helped me out. But I'm having a hard time convincing myself...
One of the key few moments in my life was when an old Chinese woman who was a coworker of mine at the time told me: you are smart, know math, and are good looking; you shouldn't work here; you should work on Wall Street. I rarely before thought of myself a good looking, being thin, pale, light-haired and not conforming to the traditional wide-shoulder, tall-dark-and-handsome masculine ideal we have here in the West. For better or worse, her comment certainly increased my ambition...
I mean, what should they say? "Marry me, because then I can live in Meiguo." (for them it's not a big difference) Also I can't blame them to want to improve their living conditions. Their live really sucks and it seems (not sure, was there just for one year) that life really is harder for women there, then for men. Don't be naive. At least know what really makes you attractive, over there.
Also, your theory doesn't hold in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is richer than where I come from and poorer women have a vast pool of rich men to choose from.
I was born and raised in China, and I get way better reception when talking to women in China than I do in Canada or the States.
Coincidentally, I fit in the category of skinny, light skin and big eyes.
To make a long story short: I don't think "I get more girls in this country or in that." can be a good model to compare the beauty values of women or bosses, because other factors are more important.
I can attest to this as well. I lived in Korea for a good while, and let me tell you, it doesn't get any better than being a white blond, blue eyed male or female of any sort (as long as not gay or fat) in SE Asia, and from what I hear, basically every other part as well. We be some sexy, foreign beasts. And I, too, am just an otherwise average looking guy.
To go back to your point, the Western look definitely helps in China, regardless of beauty. Many businesses want to hire Westerners to project an international image. That being said, I think my luck had more to do with my perceived handsomeness than my Western look. I know, this doesn't sound terribly humble, but like I said, I'm not amazingly handsome by North American standards.
Also, to clarify, I'm not taking a moral/ethic position on the subject, just communicating my personal experience.
It's really messed up, not being able to have an objective appreciation of one's looks (even relative to the given culture.
If enough people ask if you're a model, or an actor, or mention to friends how good-looking your are I supposed theta should enough evidence that at least some people think you're good-looking. But being over-familiar with one's looks tends to make one skeptical, plus many cultures train people to not be vain, which often in practice becomes "think poorly of yourself."
Case in point: a few years ago, I noticed that my hair wasn't quite as thick and lush as it once was. I panicked, stupidly. Without performing adequate research, I began taking a medication that blocks the hormone DHT. Only later did I learn that this medication can subtly alter cognition by affecting the production of various neuro-steroids. Obviously, the value of my mind vastly outweighs that of my appearance, so I stopped taking the medication knowing that one day, I'd probably lose my hair because of it.
Despite the obviousness of the choice, it was ridiculously difficult to implement. The social imperative to be beautiful is powerful. Yet:
You aren't your hair. Or your face. Or your breasts.
It may very well be that attractive people have it easier than less attractive people. But that's a problem with human nature, not with those not blessed by beauty. Make reasonable steps to improve your appearance, then forget about it. Self confidence, humor, and a compassionate nature will always win the day with people who matter.
Ask yourself: is Steve Jobs as classically attractive as Brad Pitt? Who is more accomplished? Isaac Asimov? Donald Knuth?
Depends on how you rate accomplishment. Your average female certainly knows one of those people, perhaps two given recent news. But unless they are big into Sci-Fi or computer science, they have no idea who Asimov and Knuth are.
In the evolutionary struggle to breed, Brad Pitt is the winner here, by a long shot.
Asimov: 2 children
Knuth: 2 children
Jobs: 4 children
In the evolutionary struggle, I'd say all the fame and gorgeous abs haven't created Ramses-style success for Pitt. Academic reputation and billions of dollars do less for you than simply marrying a nice girl who likes babies would.
In reality, once you are able to reach a base level of intimacy and satisfaction in one (or multiple) sexual relationship(s), how others perceive your looks in general stops mattering almost completely, and the fortunate truth is that achieving this satisfied state doesn't really require being some sort of Casanova, just moderately socially active, comfortable with yourself, and willing to put yourself out there occasionally. It may be slightly easier to be happy in this aspect of life as a very attractive person, but in the whole scheme of what it takes to be fulfilled, it's a fairly small advantage really.
How you look signals what sorts of conversation are likely to be possible or interesting. e.g. if you really like knitting, go talk to the person wearing the nice custom sweater.
Yet, while you mention it, I think you do not emphasize enough the importance of chosing how you rate accomplishment. In terms of ability to attract a mate, there is no doubt Brad Pitt wins, by a long shot.
But change the question to who has had the biggest impact on humanity, and I suspect the answer shifts to Knuth. Ask who will have the largest overall impact on culture, and I think the answer becomes Asimov (I expect his fiction will be read long after Pitt's movies fade away and he has inspired a great deal cultural work for second order effects). Ask who has had the largest impact on daily American life in the present, and Jobs is clearly victorious.
It depends entirely on how you define accomplishment.
And how do you know that one baby (which can cumulatively produce millions more) is not a more "positive impact for humanity"?
And thus appearance is influenced by your worldview, moral choices, etc.
Some call it 'charisma', which sort of implies that it is a lottery win, like having good genes, but it really isn't.
— Roald Dahl (in The Twits)
But it is true (in my experience) that good looking people are a bit more self-absorbed than normal.
We're allowed to judge people on intellectual merit as well as physical fitness, so why not on looks? You can work as hard as you want in an academic area or in a sport, and chances are you'll still never be in the top 1%. Likewise, your looks are also rooted in your genetic luck.
Other than stigma, I really see very little difference between academic merit, physical merit, and looks.
(I usually use this argument to argue against wealth redistribution and progressive taxing, but I guess it works the other way around too ;) )
I don't know if anyone here has lost a significant amount of weight (50+ pounds) while they were still young, but they will confirm this effect. In fact, this effect is often so strong, that people who have lost weight often become very skeptical of people's motivations. People who had never noticed them are now suddenly nice and friendly. This starts to make you wonder if the interest of other people in you, is purely based on your looks or who you really are.
That doesn't seem to be true:
> Contrary to conventional wisdom, … the poor have never had a statistically significant higher prevalence of overweight status at any time in the last 35 years. Despite this empirical evidence, the view that the poor are less healthy in terms of excess accumulation of fat persists.
I think a far more interesting question is how to exploit this global and obviously negative fact.
1) Don't play the game, you don't want to bother being stuck in a peer group where this is standard operating procedure. The fact that it is so widespread is actually a bonus here because you can easily cut out association with a huge swathe of humanity purely because they are simple beasts hung up on their evolutionary drives.
2) Know that generally, others not playing the game are likely to be focused on other areas also. Take their lack of focus on their appearance as an indicator that this might be the case, try to see where they are actually focusing their attention.
3) If your discard evolutionary metrics for lifestyle, largely you get to make them for yourselves. This is an enormously freeing experience in and of itself and I can't recommend it highly enough. If there's one thing life has taught me it is that you do not have to accept the measures you are constantly barraged with as the only valid ones, and in fact if you don't, you will have less market competition in the areas which you end up focusing purely because humans generally don't do that.
That said, as a woman in tech, the concept of "erotic capital" resonates with me. I'm wildly ambivalent about it, though - the risk seems to outweigh any potential reward.
Well, it is also hard to quantify. How are you going to prove to a jury that you are plain and thus got turned down?
To assume it all happens consciously, and to consider legislation as the primary way of preventing discrimination, is a bit short-sighted in my opinion. Being aware of this concept is a first step, but efforts should be made to control for unconscious bias as well. Companies have an incentive to do this as they may be passing up better qualified candidates. Perhaps developing a way to implement blind performance reviews or conducting non-soft skills, technical interviews that test a person's cognitive ability behind a screen could be one way to curb the trend.
It comes with a disclaimer:
"Important disclaimer: In reporting to you results of any IAT that you take, we will mention possible interpretations that have a basis in research [...] If you are unprepared to encounter interpretations that you might find objectionable, please do not proceed further. [...]
I am aware of the possibility of encountering interpretations of my IAT performance with which I may not agree. Knowing this, I wish to proceed. [Click]"
I bet the beauty effect remains after controlling for IQ (controls like education are already doing that to a great degree because they correlate much more strongly with IQ than beauty).
Lately I have been trying to spot more of the soft factors that keep people coming into offices.
I think someone saw Gattaca and made a bet with a colleage to see if they could get something published based on the premise.