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Being Really, Really, Ridiculously Good Looking (priceonomics.com)
116 points by guimarin 1524 days ago | hide | past | web | 142 comments | favorite

Until this perception of attractive people being more trustworthy, smarter, etc. changes (it's probably not going to change), how do we incorporate this information into our lives and careers? My opinion: lose weight. Or rather, reduce your body fat percentage. It's not as hard as people make it out to be. Look at the hot or not composite index. Notice the correlation? The numbers are inversely correlated with their body fat percentage. If you are wearing great new clothes, are clean, are groomed, and are 30+ pounds overweight, you're going to look less attractive (and therefore less successful and trustworthy) to most people than someone who is wearing average clothes and is in decent shape. And I'm not talking about see-your-abs shape, though of course that's even better. I mean just getting to a healthy weight. It seems to me it's one thing that a lot of people with desk jobs overlook or fail to take seriously, that can mean a huge increase in quality of life in a lot of different ways.

Another way of incorporating this is with the classic "Never trust a man in a suit"

We know that we give extra weight to the arguments of good looking individuals. Guys in suits generally look better than guys in sweatpants. Therefore, if a guy in a suit tells you something, it's not really as good of an idea as you think it is. He's also not as competent or hard working as you think he is.

To combat this, you should try harder to find faults in the well dressed. Hence, never trust a man in a suit.

no, to combat this, you need to wear a nicer suit.

if you are in a room full of suits and you are wearing casual clothes, you better own the fucking company or nobody is going to listen to a damn thing you're saying. the suit makes others, and yourself more authoritative, even to yourself.

this is a highly social activity/phenomenon you're describing, you can't just power through and ignore it because you know how computers work.

I'm sorry. I guess that I didn't make myself clear. I meant that distrusting people in suits should be used along side wearing one. You're absolutely right that this is a universal social bias that you can't erase simply through an act of will. Everyone will judge you on your appearance and you need act accordingly. However, if you don't try to overcome your own bias, you're ignoring people for no good reason.

To put it differently, the first lesson you should learn from Monster Cable is that, with proper marketing, you can get people to pay $60 for a $1 cable. However, the second lesson you shouldn't buy Monster Cable.

Why are people in Silicon Valley so against suits? I like dressing up. I look damn good in a suit and I want to wear one every day.

Of course you do. And because our natural tendency is to think "you look damn good in a suit, you must be competent and valuable", we need to watch out for that effect in ourselves so we don't unwittingly bias ourselves into making bad decisions.

Y'know, as the article spent pages and pages explaining.

Suits tend to be uncomfortable (mainly, they're too hot to wear in the summer, don't fit well if your body size fluctuates), are fragile and easily get damaged or stained or rumpled (eg, you can't casually sit on the grass wearing one) and are expensive and annoying to clean (you can't just toss them in a washer/dryer).

So there's a bimodal equilibrium. If you don't own anything that's dry-clean-only or requires pressing, it is a real pain in the ass to deal with one or two items that are. Whereas I suppose if nearly everything you wear is dry-clean-only, you evolve a very different set of habits such that it doesn't seem like a big deal to take care of a suit.

If you only wear a suit once or twice a year, it's not worth getting it re-tailored to fit you well or getting one perfectly matched for the seasonal weather...so when you DO wear it, you're wearing something that doesn't fit well and is too cold or too hot, which makes you less inclined to wear one often.

What if you're short?

Maybe devote your political activities to pushing for a height tax...


But yeah, from an economically utilitarian perspective, you could solve this by differentially taxing the attractive.

Harrison Bergeron, anyone?

Great story, everyone should read it:


Also, film adaptation that was phenomenally well done: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tvqsv1pPSbg

Er, no. An economist would be horrified by Harrison Bergeron, as demonstrating the most damaging possible form of egalitarianism and nothing like the grandparent proposal; the point of a height tax is not to make tall people shorter - whatever good or purpose is being fulfilled by tall people is still fulfilled after the tax, and the tax serves the useful function of raising revenue while also not distorting any investments or consumptions or plans.


Though it bears pointing out that Mankiw was doing this as a parody of progressive taxation, not as a serious proposal.

If there's any kind of proposal or law that favors the rich, the super rich or the ultra rich, Greg Mankiw will be in favor of it.

He's a morally and intellectually bankrupt academic. He's currently defending Reinhart and Rogoff, for instance.

I'm not sure it's such a bad idea. It's a non-distorting tax and the unearned benefits of height seem clearly established. Why not?

Better idea: Lets tax everyone who gives tall people advantages. The tall person didn't choose to be tall. Their parents didn't have a say in the matter either. Shall we tax them for making a tall heir?

You know who had a say in tall people having "advantages"? Everyone who gives them said advantage. Tax them.

>You know who had a say in tall people having "advantages"? Everyone who gives them said advantage. Tax them.

Ok... so the next step is how do you measure in a consistent and non-gamifiable way who is giving these advantages?

If you can't answer that, it won't be a good tax.

With all respect, bad idea. The next logical step would be the ability to choose any arbitrary trait to punish for producing an unfair advantage, like being smart (an overrated trait in many circumstances).

Abraham Lincoln was both tall and smart -- such a program would have ruined him. :)

Also, ideas like this only add to the power of governments. I think most people will argue there should be a limit to governmental power. People differ on what that limit should be, but I think most would agree that taxing height or some other trait goes too far.

> being smart (an overrated trait in many circumstances).

I disagree, the advantages of being smart appear in an astounding number of contexts, from making a lot more money than everyone else to living longer to having better teeth etc (and yes, most of the many IQ correlations survive after conditioning on the obvious stuff).

The real issue here is that intelligence correlates with income to such a degree that progressive income taxation (very common) may already be playing this role.

We are in agreement, that was my whole point. =))

I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately we're in a country (assuming US) where everyone wants handouts and an even playing field, regardless of their lifestyle choices. People demand their offices install ramps for mobility scooters when they're morbidly obese and it's discriminatory not to oblige, but try arguing your work should open later because you drink too much every night. Overeating and copious alcohol consumption are one and the same, IMO.

It's also easy for others to assume everything they don't have was given to others or comes naturally. Out of shape people give me hell all the time for being in excellent physical condition, but they don't know about the 10 miles of running every day and 6 hours of training I put into wrestling for most of my life, or that I run and lift weights daily and watch what I eat. To them, they're not willing to work on their body to have what others have, but are willing to bitch about it. Granted some people are just born unattractive, but it's amazing what a little focus on your appearance can do to change how you look and are perceived. We can extrapolate unattractiveness out a little bit and look at appearance as well. Would you be fired from an office job for dressing like a bum, smelling like body odor, and looking disheveled all the time? Most likely. Is that discrimination? I would argue it's not.

"everyone wants handouts"

"an even playing field"

The argument there would appear to be that the people arguing for a level playing field want no one to get handouts (or, alternatively, for them to get compensatory handouts). Which, in a world with perfect knowledge and perfect implementation, I could probably get behind a government policy enforcing that. After all, a rich kid getting access to a million dollar trust fund is getting a handout just as much as the single mom picking up some food stamps. Or a person with a pretty face making more money than someone with a pock-marked face does simply by that fact.

Requiring perfect knowledge and perfect implementation are, of course, insurmountable caveats.

Of course. "Stop being fat, it's easy, look at me how fit I am" is pretty much the same "Stop being poor, it's easy, look at how rich I am."

Not being fat also involves lifestyle choices that are easier to make when you are rich. E.g. want to go workout but you live in a sucky climate? No problem, just drive on over to the gym! Want to live in a better climate where you can bike to work every day? Sure, just move to the bay area. Want to work out before lunch? You have a high value job, your employer will be flexible.

Then sometimes its just a matter of context. I've totally gained weight since the gym in my apartment complex suddenly shutdown, and the pollution has been so bad this winter (700+ 2.5PM) that my options for doing much anything active have been severely limited.

This is true.

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Control your eating. More Protein, more veggies. Eating in a way that is healthy and keeps your weight down is not expensive. A few bodyweight exercises can be done several times a week and take only a few minutes. It's possible to be in good shape and lean even if you are poor. If you want too.

Ok Governor Schwarzenegger, I think you are missing the point. There are three factors that determine your healthiness:

1. Willpower/discipline/ (i.e. if you want too!)

2. Habit (nurture)

3. Environment (income, climate, work schedule, nearby grocery stores)

Any deficiency in one factor must be made up by another. Yes, (1) is good enough if you have a lot of willpower/discipline to spare, but not all of us do. (2) is ideal, but maybe our parents didn't do such a great job. (3) allows perhaps allows you to overcome (1) and (2), but not always.

Close, but not quite. I'm more german than austrian.

Actually I'm doing my PHD on adherence to healthy habits and behavioural change (preventative medicine with a focus on exactly these things). ;) The whole willpower shtick is a bit overplayed based on the available evidence. The real (first) problem is often learned helplessness. And then a lack of knowledge on how to change things and which things are most important. Shaping your environment and changing your habits without using significant amounts of willpower. It's doable.

"Stop being fat, it's easy, look at me how fit I am"

Which is very, very, very true. I was 240 pounds, went down to 155 - and hell yah, I will repeat it back to you - "Stop being fat, it's easy, look at me how fit I am". Gym, sweat and cry as I did. The first thing you'll notice too is how much less self-pity you have. And that's manly too.

I was going to post that nobody who has actually been through it will tell you that it's easy. I guess I was wrong. I think you're probably missing the point.

I weighed slightly less than you (something like 105kg / 230lbs), dropped down to around 70kg (155lbs) mostly on diet changes, and am currently hovering around 75kg (165lbs) having been doing weight training for the last four months. Not done yet obviously (still some more body fat to get rid of), but I'm getting there.

It feels easy from here, certainly, because I'm used to it. Getting here required a lot of hard work (in my case, over a period of a couple of years), and a lot of persistence.

The problem is getting started - knowing what you need to do, getting on with it, and sticking to it. It's intimidating, and it requires quite a lot of commitment. The trick is that, once you've got going, it actually gets much easier. You just need to get going first.

I'll completely agree on this though: DO IT. Seriously, just do it. It's all going to be worth it in the end, because you'll feel so much better for it.

> Out of shape people give me hell all the time for being in excellent physical condition, but they don't know about the 10 miles of running every day

My major exertion this week was going to the doctor. I rode in a car, walked 20 ft, sat on a chair, talked, rode home, and had to go lie down and take medicine. As my doctor remarked, "You look grey." Because I have a chronic illness and nobody is sure what exactly it is or what to do about it. I've been like this off an on, without much rhyme or reason, since 2009 when I came down with mono for the second (yes second) time. I used to exercise every day, before I got sick. Now some days, if I do any kind of exercise -- for mere minutes! -- it'll knock me on my ass for days, a kind of exhaustion and pain and fatigue you can't understand unless you've experienced it. This they give the benign, cuddly title of "post-exertional malaise."

Luckily if somebody looks at me and thinks I'm fat because I'm lazy, I really couldn't give a shit, because having your vitality ripped from you at 26 really gives you perspective on stupid things like that guy's staring at my fat ass.

The irony, of course, is that you are guilty of what you claim others are guilty of… not having a clue as to the private lives or struggles of the people around you. Judging them based on appearance. Thinking you know them.

But if you, heaven forbid, develop a chronic illness and you're smart enough to do your own research, you'll find that millions of people all around you are suffering in silence. Of being told they simply must be lazy. Without a proper diagnosis or any kind of medical help.

Oh wait. I guess those are handouts?

I can relate.. I also have a chronic illness, with the gloriously vague name of fibromyalgia. I have had doctors tell me there was nothing wrong with me, accuse me of being a drug addict, lazy, etc etc. What fun. Have spent since 2008 doing my own research (with generous amounts of help from my wife and friends). I have discovered that I am in a club that I don't want to be in, the chronic pain and fatigue club.

I have to plan what days I exert myself on, because I know that the next few days will be spent in bed, unable to move. Gives me plenty of time to think, haha. "you should exercise more" is the least helpful advice, which I get all the time. People mean well, but they don't understand. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on when I do the same to others, when I mean well but don't understand.

Yes, I have fibromyalgia too. I consider it a non-diagnosis (like chronic fatigue syndrome, which may or may not be the same thing, but which I (also?) have). It doesn't tell you causes it or how to get better, or what it really is. So.

On most days, I'm much better than I described above. What really helped me is the protocol in the book _From Fatigued to Fantastic_. If you haven't read it, haven't tried his approach to fixing sleep and other imbalances, I CANNOT ENCOURAGE YOU MORE to check it out. The trazodone alone changed my life. Plus the magnesium, the B vitamin supplements, (sometimes) the adrenal supplements, heavily supplementing electrolytes with electrolyte pills (that's my addition)… these took me from being non-functional, unable to discuss facts or details or make decisions, or go further than the sofa, to being able to go out, see people, do things (with limits).

This week I've started naturthroid to support my normal-testing thyroid. So far it seems to be working. I have hope that it will stop the "crashing."

Hope you feel better.

You should put things back into context, because I don't think the parent poster targeted you specifically; most obese people aren't obese because of chronic illnesses but because of lifestyle choices (most of the time, having been fed and addicted to unhealthy food since childhood; thus the lifestyle choice might as well be blamed unto parenting shortcomings, which could be blamed their onto poverty and lack of sanitary regulation on food...).

Some of the most prominent researchers in the US believe that 40-60% of Americans suffer from hypothyroid, possibly in combination with syndrome x. Both of which cruelly cause weight gain AND reduce energy/ability to exercise. That percentage would have to include "most obese people" -- heck, most people, period!

The thing with these 2 issues (hypo/syndrome x) is they are both a cause and a symptom. You can't tell who did what to themselves tabula rasa, or what was done to them (as you point out) by genetics, by childhood, by an environment laden with adrenogenic/estrogenic chemicals, etc. A parent's poor diet changes the expression of genes which can have effects on their children; the additives in food today can have toxic consequences and the food is engineered to be addictive. Sure, personal responsibility. But most people aren't smart enough, or educated enough, or well-positioned enough to fight all the odds against them. And doctors, in my experience, are worse than useless.

Hm, I'm wondering: How does your diet look like? IIRC you already supplementing vitamin D.

Love your work (esp. Talks at Microconf) btw.

What I find interesting as well is that being attractive is not all roses, and sometimes it can work against you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, credited with the US Patent for frequency hopping, was met with disbelief simply because people thought she was too beautiful to create such a profound intellectual contribution.

Many actors/actresses find themselves unable to break out of certain roles that match their look and caricature. In day to day life, we make assumptions about a person's personality based on how they look. There's a lot of "work" we all need to do to break out of the societal mold that's shaping other people's perception of our personalities if left to first impressions.

Weirdly enough I did once have a woman find it difficult to believe I worked in IT because I was "too handsome for that". I've also seen comments on technical youtube videos that say stuff like "Dude has pale skin and a neckbeard, you know he's legit!"

I wonder if this is one of the reasons we don't have more women in IT, if there is a public perception of IT people = Ugly. The last thing many women want is to be associated with ugly.

This (not Lamarr specifically) was briefly mentioned in the article - the 'attractiveness benefit' is actually not awarded to women in traditionally male fields.

Everyone concerned with this problem might be interested in reading Ted Chiang's excellent science fiction story "Liking What You see": http://www.ibooksonline.com/88/Text/liking.html . It examines what would happen if everyone could choose to disable their natural reaction to beauty, and how that relates to morality.

Huge upvote to this. It's a really excellent story. In fact, Ted Chiang's short story collection is some of the best Science Fiction I've read in years. That story specifically is a great one (not the best), and I think of it every time this kind of article crops up.

"America has no law preventing companies from using attractiveness as a hiring criteria, regardless of whether the job is exotic dancer, salesman, or software engineer. It’s pretty much okay from a legal standpoint to discriminate based on looks in America."

This law wouldn't make much sense. We could as well make a law preventing companies from using intelligence as hiring criteria. Imagine a boring job in a factory, where having above average intelligence wouldn't make you more productive. Is it discriminating to hire someone only because the boss likes him because he's intelligent? And what about discrimination based on smell or sense of humour?

A guy I knew did too well on his aptitude test to become a tram driver here in Melbourne. The problem as seen by the recruiters is that in being too bright, he's likely to get bored sooner and leave. Sure, he himself might absolutely love the job and stay for decades, but the recruiters are playing the numbers game here - tram drivers are not a keystone position - and they find that there's more churn with really bright people.

That's a good point, and it's often quoted to explain the fact that Ph.D. graduates often make less money (or have higher unemployment rates) than professional degree holders in the same field. The assumption is that the Ph.D. holder will jump ship at the first offer of a job at his educational level, so he's less reliable as a long term employee.

There was a police department that rejected people with high IQs, and the discrimination case went to a high court.

I recently realized that this is embedded in our language. My 4-year was confused by the phrase "good-looking". She assumed that it meant people who look like they're good.

By four, she's already internalized that attractive people are good and unattractive (by local standards) are bad. Scary.

To me it sounds like she hear the term "good-looking" and interpreted as someone who looks like they're good. Not internalizing some societal idea about attractive people.

There are many defining visual characteristics that are anthropomorphically indicators of "good" or "bad" people, that don't necessarily have to do with attractiveness.

Evolution wise, this is because people like in others, what they wish they had for themselves. Likewise, people hate in others what they dislike about themselves. We celebrate the beautiful because we wish we too could be beautiful. We mock the ugly/short/gay/fat/skinny/weak because those are qualities that we ourselves do not wish to have. If all of society punishes those with these traits, people with these traits will be less likely to reproduce and pass these traits on to future generations. Nature is as always, brutal.

But because we humans have emotions we try to hide these discriminations and pretend we don't have them.

I always thought it was interesting how women with self-image issues are comforted on talk shows and told "honey you are beautiful just the way you are!" in one episode then "oh my God you look so much better!" after they get a makeover in the next episode. Not to mention the irony of women in the crowd (who will spend hundreds of hours each year putting on makeup, doing hair, bleaching, & plucking) clapping to the tune of "you're beautiful just the way you are".

My angry bitterness comes from the fact that my whole life I've been lied to. I was a cute kid but after puberty it all went downhill. I was the first to realize it. I was hoping the world around me would keep it's promise of treating me nicely because after all, "it's what's on the inside that counts". Yet, it was all a lie. I've had friends tell me I was ugly, I've had friends tell me they initially didn't want to be associated with me because I was ugly. I've had people in public say to me (as I'm walking by) "Damn dude, you're ugly". And if I choose to get cosmetic surgery some day, I'll have a whole new group of people calling me "shallow". Why? Because I want to look nice? God I'm just so sick of this bullshit. I don't hate myself, I hate the world that lied to me. People who say one thing, then do another.

The same people who call plastic surgery recipients as "shallow" are the same ones who lie to themselves and refuse to acknowledge how important it can be to look nice and feel good about yourself. How happy the millions of people who get surgery every year feel when they have a nose straightened out or a wrinkle removed or hollow cheeks filled.

People tend to believe lies that make them feel good rather than accepting truths that make them feel bad. I'm glad I live in 2013 when I can change the way I look so I can have a better life instead of lapping up all that "it's what's on the inside" bullshit so many people keep spreading so they can look empathetic and modest in front of others.

My Point: I'd like 3 things to change in our society:

1) No more lying. No more "We're all beautiful" rhetoric. No everyone is not beautiful. That's bullshit. Let's be honest. A few people are beautiful, most are average, many can be unattractive, and some are apparently repulsive enough to instill feelings of negativity in others. Beauty can also be subjective so there's a bit of give here and there.

2) To be more understanding towards people who are unattractive by removing the stigma that comes with being unattractive. Aka don't treat us differently. Example: All my friends are outcasts, people rejected by others because they were unattractive, too fat, too skinny, too black (Nigerian descent). Despite me admitting that many of my friends are unattractive themselves, I was still their friend. I was never embarrassed to be their friend or be seen with them.

3) To not look down on people who want to better themselves through cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery is still looked down upon by many people. If you take a leave of absence for 2 weeks and come back with a different face your co-workers will respond negatively. To redefine oneself is what makes humans human. Stop judging cosmetic surgery by looking at extreme examples like Dolly Parton, Joan Rivers, and Michael Jackson. Those are extreme edge cases. Walk into any plastic surgeons offices and ask for their before/after books. Most surgery is meant to leave the patient looking natural not unrecognizable.

For instance: http://www.drrichardjoseph.com/photos/jaw-surgery.php Are they shallow for looking better?


Okay, having just followed the link in your profile and looking at your picture, dude, trust me you're not ugly. I actually honestly think you're a handsome guy, judging purely by appearances.

But anyway. You know, I've noticed that people who fixate on appearances tend to be irrationally harsh. You'd be surprised how big a part confidence and charisma plays in the overall attraction people feel for one another. You don't need to spend any dollar on surgery, just work on your confidence, be cheerful, and learn to carry yourself well.

1st rule of being ugly: Every ugly person has at least 1 really good picture that hides all of their flaws or is easily photoshoppable to hide flaws. Use any combination of lighting, shadows, cropping, facial hair to get this effect.

2nd rule: Find that picture and use it for everything.

3rd rule: People will be confused when they see you in real life and realize you look different from your picture. They will be disappointed. So you have to work really hard to try to match whatever level of attractiveness you have in your picture. If you're a guy and you've never put on makeup, you may need to learn.

If you think this level or worrying is too much and obsessive, I'd like to ask you this. If the way people treat you changes depending on how you look when you leave the house, you too would "worry about it".

Again, I'm not devastated that I'm ugly. I'm devastated that people treat me differently because I'm ugly. Especially after all the "everyone's beautiful in their own way" rhetoric I've heard my whole life. There's lots of people who are super successful, rich, and happy with families and they're ugly. What angers me is being treated differently because of something that I cannot control.

If anyone in the street just straight up tells anyone they're "ugly", something is seriously fucked up about them.

Seriously, go to http://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/ and get some tips. Get a new haircut that suits you, maybe consider using some hair product, if you have acne issues or something see a dermatologist, get proper fitting clothes, etc. etc.

Seriously, go to /r/malefashionadvice and buy the uniform..

I'm not entirely sure that fitting t-shirt and fitting jeans are uniform, while non-fitting ones aren't.

it's up to you but with that many sentences and enumerated rules of response you might consider making your rebuttal by linking to what you would consider a more typical picture of you.

it's very hard to have this discussion when what we see is what you think of as a deceptively handsome picture. why not compare with a more typical one. we don't think what we have seen is deceptive we think it's just you.

we have no idea what your point is.

Fortunately you're a guy and can elicit the same positive reaction by being confident, funny and charming.

"If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything"

Old quote I got from a girl waaay back. I'd say it's pretty true and reflects the sentiment in your post.

Confident, funny, charming women don't elicit positive reactions from sane, well-adjusted males?

I'm a woman who would hardly be considered "traditionally attractive" and it's always worked for me. People's opinions of your looks change based on how they view your personality.

Couldn't agree more. Actual personality and personability go much further than looks. It's just important to have that confidence and ease about you. Which, granted, may be hard if one's grown up thinking they are ugly. But once you get the tricks of smiling, reading others, and conveying a positive personality, the world opens up. Big time.

The article covers this topic of confidence. It says that only 15 to 20% of the wage increase attractive people gain is because of confidence. The rest is due to bias from the person in charge of hiring.

You missed the part where he writes about suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Well I don't think he would just lie so maybe he's really short and flabby?

The question to ask is this: How much does beauty correlate with strength, health, intelligence, conscientiousness, honesty etc. If the correlation is high, then maybe judging others on beauty is something that can be justified under time and resource constraints everything else being the same...


Here the data were less clear, but several reviews of the literature have concluded that there is indeed a small, positive relationship between beauty and brains... In the U.K., for example, attractive children have an additional 12.4 points of IQ, on average. The relationship held even when he controlled for family background, race, and body size. From this, Kanazawa concluded that the famous halo effect is not a cognitive illusion, as so many academics had assumed, but rather an accurate reading of the world: We assume that beautiful people are smart, he argues, because they are.

The article does cover the fact that children who are more attractive are given more attention, and that teachers pay more attention to those children, which may very well explain the effect.

That does not say much. It raises more questions:

1. How much of intelligence is inherited? I am not up to date on this, but I remember that researchers don't have a consensus on this. Also, once you are an adult does G get fixed?

2. Teachers also pay more attention to intelligent, hardworking and industrious students.

Also, grown up intelligent people are usually better at taking care of themselves and end up looking better than others. Of course, this is just one factor.

Simply put, babies fixate on more symmetrical faces. It is not difficult to deduce that teachers would give more attention to more attractive students, all else being equal.

All of that may be true in various degress but damn... your biggest problems are/were clearly psychological. Keep practicing the art of not-giving-a-fuck and you'll keep getting better.

(From OP's About Page:) >The self hatred I had for myself, brought on by body dysmorphia, worsened so much that I refused to interact with anyone other than my roomate, never went anywhere without a hat, and only went grocery shopping at 4 AM (when there was the least amount of people at Walmart) because I was horrified that people would see my face and be disgusted by me.

>Evolution wise, this is because people like in others, what they wish they had for themselves.

That's doubtful. This is actually a far more general effect than the association between attractiveness and other positive attributes, known as the "affect heuristic". This is a shortcut that people automatically use to make judgments about things based on their overall impression of those things. It is responsible for a ton of glitches in people's perception.

For example, if you tell people that a nuclear reactor is particularly safe (in terms of meltdowns), they will tend to assume that it also generates less waste.

Look, so long as you have a full head of hair, the world and in particular women will consider you to be at least decent looking. My hair started to fall out when I was 22 and by 26 I was seriously balding. To make matters worse, I started to go grey and by 28 or so I was fully "distinguished" (aka old) looking.

So yeah, actually looking young goes a long way. Do not take your good fortune for granted. Like you said, you can change the other stuff you don't like.

I was very thin at 20 and completely bald by 22 (29 now and nothing has changed). I'd prefer to have hair, but it has never been an issue in my personal or business life. I was never turned down by a girl I seriously pursued. My wife thinks I look fine bald and she knew me before. She actually was interested in me originally because she said I had "cool" hair when she first saw me.

As my hair got thinner I began cutting it shorter and now buzz it as low as possible a couple times a week. I also grew a curly mustache a couple years ago so I had a little something to work with. I get compliments nearly everyday on it now.

Being bald young might have actually worked in my favor professionally as it made me look older than I was. I was young (early 20's) meeting with manufacturers in Europe to get contracts to import their products to the US. I think they would have been a bit worried if they knew they were dealing with a 21 year old. I looked like I was young 30's and I seemed like I knew what I was talking about so they didn't question it.

A full head of hair until 22? Man, you had it made. As an 18 year old with a severely receded hairline, I'd kill to be you.

Another aspect of the absurdity of how negatively we treat plastic surgery is how common and acceptable cosmetic braces are in America. The vast majority of teens getting braces isn't because they medically needed them, it's just to make their teeth more attractive.

I had - chose to have - braces in adulthood, and I was very, very aware of the fact that it was in essence a cosmetic surgery. It certainly made me less judgemental about other cosmetic procedures.

/r/malefashionadvice might help you out some. I've been lurking there for a while, and for so many people it's not that they're ugly -- they're just used to wearing ill-fitting clothes that do not suit their body and face type.

I also lurk there. I will say they're a little too picky sometimes on what is and is not acceptable fashion, but they're great for teaching what good-fitting clothing looks like, as well as matching up clothes to create a style. Especially for someone who is not overweight, clothes with a proper fit can make a dramatic, huge difference in appearance.

Every time I look at that subreddit, I feel like a slob for what I wear.

Agreed, fitting clothes make a huge difference. A good haircut also goes a hell of a long way, for boys and girls alike.

Also, get a good hair cut. Pop for an appointment where you consult with a high end stylist. A good stylist really does know what they're doing. After that, once the style has been determined, you can have a less expensive haircutter simply maintain that style.

Speaking of stereotyping, the idea of taking fashion advice from <i>reddit</i> cracks me up. I'm sure it's probably fine and has some good things, but... you know, reddit.

Damn dude, you're handsome. For real. Looking at your picture in the link you provide on your profile, you look absolutely fine. I'm not one of those people who is lying to you.

First of all you're feeding into your confirmation bias just like the article points out - if you think you're ugly, you're going to believe you're ugly and feed into that negative self image.

Second of all, and most importantly, there is much that can be done with regards to improving appearances. If you don't believe me - just search for "models with and without makeup" on Google. The fact is that even the stereotypically "beautiful" people put lots of effort into improving their appearance, and you can too. I mean, just looking at the picture from the article (http://media.tumblr.com/160024ee41f63d0a19636697b1f929fc/tum...), the person looks essentially the same, except 3 major things change throughout the "hot or not" ratings:

- thinning of the face

- hair color / condition

- skin tone / makeup

The 1-3.4 has duller hair, fatter face and almost no evidence of makeup in comparison to the 9-9.5 face. And the 9.5-10 actually looks paler than the 9-9.5 face, but that appears to be from enhanced lighting (model "glow") giving her a more professional look, not to mention obvious evidence of eye makeup from the blue around her eyes (in addition to the blue eye color) which doesn't exist on any of the other faces. So just like you mentioned about putting your best picture on your profile, there are clearly ways to make yourself significantly more attractive:

- Achieve a healthy weight (increased muscle mass, decreased fat)

- Dress in clothes that flatter you (form-fitting, colors that contrast and enhance skin tone)

- Spend a (healthy) amount of time in the sun to create appealing skin tone

- Put time and effort into grooming (healthy hair in a stylish haircut, no unkempt facial hair, clean and trimmed nails, treatment of pimples/blemishes and other assorted skin care)

Yes, it requires effort. Yes, it seems vain and pointless. And yes, deformaties and dramatic asymmetries cannot be masked by effort of appearance. But attraction and appearance are a game of our society and more often than not, attractiveness is something you're more in control of than most people realize; and people are too lazy / stubborn to accept that reality and work on it. Many people can't be bothered to wear quality clothes or hit the gym 3 times a week, and then blame society why they're deemed "ugly." But the fact is most people are pretty "average" in looks but some don't appear that way because they put in effort into their appearance, and it works!

As much as you're trying to convince yourself you're ugly, you're not (seriously), and you are more in control of raising your attractiveness than you claim. You can't tell me that you'd get less/the same amount of attention if you added 20 lbs of muscle to your frame, lost the facial hair and surfer haircut, and wore a well-fitting navy suit and white dress shirt. Effort put in will yield results.

Firstly, the article doesn't talk about confirmation bias. The fact remains that if you think you're pretty, but you're actually ugly, all of the effects that come from being perceived as ugly will still come into play, which the article goes into to great detail about.

Yes, feeling confident about yourself is helpful, but as the article said, "the increased confidence of attractive workers only explained 15% to 20% of the beauty premium."

The fact that women basically have to spend hours dealing with makeup only reinforces the OP's post. I don't see how that's a response to what he said.

If you look at the picture, the overall facial structure plays a great role in the transformation. Thinning of the face is not just about losing weight/fat. There is bone structure at play and there are other bodily tissues at play that you can't just remove with exercise.

Look. Your response seriously comes off as one of those banal "If you think you're ugly you are ugly. It's all about self-confidence. You can improve yourself if only you wore better clothes and better grooming and went to the gym." Etc etc. etc. Completely uninsightful and nothing the parent doesn't already know.

But does he apply it...

Male beauty is mostly about height which one has little control over. E.g. if op is 5 feet, follows all your advice and looks like Brad Pitt in Fight Club, he will still not be more beautiful than someone who is 6 feet and does not follow it.

A quibble: movie actors are often not tall, but the American ones are damn rarely not handsome. How tall is Tom Cruise?

Height is important, but so is having a lean and muscular figure. And the latter is something the person definitely has control over.

I've read his post twice now and I can't for the life of me find the link, could anyone post it?

It's not part of the post, it's the personal website of the person who wrote the parent comment:


Thanks for sharing your story both here and in your website, and I agree with much of what you say, particularly your 3 points.

As the article points out, judging people based on beauty is deeply ingrained in human nature, but I think we can all agree that it's a bad part of our human nature. It's also in our human nature to want to rape, steal, murder, etc. to get what we want, but we create laws and social structures to prevent those things and I'd like to think that we as a species are always trying to transcend these primitive urges and become a more sophisticated Vulcan-like human race that is "above" such things

Accordingly, I'm always perplexed as to why judging people based on their looks is still so widely accepted and tolerated in society. Companies aren't allowed to advertise a product by saying "So good you'd rape/kill/steal from your neighbor to get one" and yet they're allowed to promote the idea that becoming more beautiful makes you a better person. I think it's absurd and I think/hope that people 100 years from now will look back on our society and shake their heads in shame and/or amusement at all the shallow advertisements we allow on TV.

I refuse to accept that "That's just the way human beings are, man. We gotta reproduce." Forgive me for thinking that we could do much better as a society.

That's why I abhor companies like Zynga whose entire business model revolves around tapping into people's most basic, primitive instincts and making money off of it. I love video games with beautiful graphics, an epic story, and great gameplay, but Zynga games have none of those things. They are the equivalent of a crack dealer getting people hooked on low-quality games which add nothing to people's lives, and just because they grow quickly in a new space does not mean they should be lauded for doing so.

Last point - I don't like the argument that because babies and children also recognize similar standards of beauty that we should just accept that there's nothing we can do about it. Children also want to eat candy at every meal, steal stuff they want, and shit anywhere. Children need responsible adults to teach them that all those things are not good for themselves and society. And yet we fail to do the same for both children and adults when it comes to looks, which never fails to sadden me.


EDIT to add:

pg recently tweeted "Will ownership turn out to be largely a hack people resorted to before they had the infrastructure to manage sharing properly?"

I'd like to pose the same question - Will makeup and cosmetic surgery turn out to be largely a hack people resorted to before society got its shit together and collectively realized that we shouldn't be promoting beauty as a virtue?

Hmmm, I think that's an extreme opinion. I don't blame anyone for wanting beauty, it's gorgeous. Nor do I oppose evolution or natural selection. If the unhealthy and unattractive are not preffered, that's just nature. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be able to enjoy our time on this planet. I just wish people weren't so harsh. Same with gays, people may not accept them or want to be like them but they should still be treated equally.

It's funny how I'm getting emails from other fellow uglers who understand "the way things are". Yet there are others who just refuse to believe that being ugly has such an impact on one's life. It's kind of like being black on a white continent, or a woman in a man's world, or a homosexual in a heterosexual world, you won't understand the issues or struggles unless you yourself can experience them.

Your looks impact your whole life. Starting with middle school onward to collage and into your adult life. Ugly usually becomes your identity.

That is unlikely to happen, since it is a basic instinct to desire attractive people.

Well, at least until we have the technology to modify one's own psyche.

" America has no law preventing companies from using attractiveness as a hiring criteria, regardless of whether the job is exotic dancer, salesman, or software engineer. It’s pretty much okay from a legal standpoint to discriminate based on looks in America."

My problem with this is beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So having laws preventing companies hiring based on looks is ridiculous. I mean, how would you know what anyone thought during the hiring process? I doubt anyone would say "you're ugly as shit so we aren't hiring you".

Not to mention, what you consider "ugly" I might not.

It's only subjective to a point. There are many things that are almost uniformly considered attractive by the majority of the population.

There was an AMA from somebody who did research on this on reddit a while back.


It says in there that it's usually around 30-40% subjective.

I looked through that thread and what struck me was how small the body of research the guy draws from is. Maybe he is only citing a small sample of the research, but there seems to be a lot of conclusions drawn from very few studies. Especially on something as subjective and political as human attraction.

The top answer in the reddit thread discusses this (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1689917/pdf/1038...) study. It says that women prefer the odor of more attractive men. The conclusions from that study are based on the odors of 6(!) different men.

And the t-shirt the men wore to capture the odor are washed, frozen, and then heated in a bottle. The women then smell the bottle and make their judgement. The study doesn't bother to explain why these actions don't change the odor of the t-shirt (which they might not, but that doesn't seem obvious to me).

There are other problems with the study, but I'll stop there.

I understand that all fields of science have to start somewhere, but this seems closer to phrenology than particle physics.

>>>“In one study, men who saw a new-car ad that included a seductive young woman model rated the car as faster, more appealing, more expensive-looking, and better designed than did men who viewed the same ad without the model. Yet when asked later, the men refused to believe that the presence of the young woman had influenced their judgments.”

I've been wondering why in China launches of products are usually accompanied by young good-looking women holding the product.

EDIT to add: I also find it to be a very annoying practice.

Pascal: “Those who are accustomed to judge by feeling do not understand the process of reasoning, for they would understand at first sight, and are not used to seek for principles. And others, on the contrary, who are accustomed to reason from principles, do not at all understand matters of feeling, seeking principles, and being unable to see at a glance.”

If you're using that to defend exploiting women, forget it.

if you're paying the women, but taking the mens' money, who exactly is being exploited here?

Why only one?

Men's hormonal buttons are being pushed by images of hot women in order to empty their wallets, and you think it's the women who are being exploited. That's rich.

Argue with Gloria Steinem, who was once a Playboy bunny. http://www.gloriasteinem.com/updates/2011/8/22/i-was-a-playb...

Gloria Steinem's career arc has been from B-girl to intellectual pickpocket.

I'd like to see a study in other regions than North America. Does it apply elsewhere?

Readability note: Theres a really annoying iFrame in top right (join Tumblr), fixed position that makes it impossible to read the blog and follows you.

Screenshot: https://twitter.com/danielpalacio/status/327525758065070080/...

There's no way to close it. Is this something that Tumblr adds?

Rohin from Priceonomics here. Tumblr added this new button to our site this week I believe. We'll figure out some way to change / remove it; it's annoying.


I haven't seen one that large though. It usually looks like this: http://www.minusmanhattan.com/

Yikes! Sorry, this is bad user experience.

Update: Tumblr seems to load their own stylesheets for mobile devices. We'll find a fix for this.

As the article establishes, beauty in the traditional sense mostly means "average."

To some extent I think you can take more control over your appearance by searching for an identity that goes beyond traditional elements - taking an artistic approach to one's fashion, makeup, outlook, etc. Music subculture has done this numerous times since the 20th century, and more recently queer culture has been deconstructive of many of the traditional attitudes towards beauty. Those ideas are deliberately positioned against the mainstream, yet have an influence on it over time - you can get away with a far more outlandish appearance in a modern urban area now than 30 years ago.

As well, we're going to keep adding corrective measures over time.

So I see society heading towards a "meeting in the middle" in some respects - creating all permutations of attractiveness.

> beauty in the traditional sense mostly means "average."

I'd imagine that this is true for females, but that males would benefit from being above average in some ways (i.e. height).

like the porno for pyros song goes, "cursed to be born beautiful, poor and female, there's none that suffered more." there are definitely advantages to be born beautiful but there are also several disadvantages. its too bad the article didn't dwell on the negative effects as well.

Saying that it's tough being beautiful is one of those formulations along the lines of, "Oh, it's such a burden having all this wealth. How I envy the simple, carefree lives of the poor."

Imagine a world where professional sports teams recruit the least talented players, and companies seek out the bottom of the class engineers, while everyone cheers how outstandingly ugly the models are because advertisers only want the most ugly to represent them, above the noise of the least gifted warbler singing on the radio.

There are many ways to be outstanding, why should the pursuit of the outstanding in some areas be any less socially acceptable than in other areas?

Because a job where you sit in front of a computer all day doesn't require you to not have acne or be taller than 5'2 (if you're a guy) or whatever.

I'm sure there's some model with epicycles and epicycles of logic explaining how having prettier programmers (or whatever) make all the programmers they see over the water cooler more productive. But there'd have to be actual evidence of that.

With regard to the theory that attractive workers make other workers more productive, I do not know if that is true and I am not arguing it. And I also would not argue that sitting in front of a computer all day requires you to have acne or be less than 5'2".

If you had to hire one of two people, both equally qualified except that one was much more physically attractive, which would you hire ( in a vacuum where there is no legal oversight )?

We are encouraged to accommodate differences to such a degree that I am concerned that we reflexively penalize representatives of the ideal, in favor of representatives of ever greater divergence from the ideal, and to what purpose? If we cannot help being born who we are then some will just be more attractive than others. Rather than letting them coast through life on their looks, we should be encouraging them to develop their other abilities. Perfect facial symmetry for example may indicate a beautiful mind.

A reporter once asked the Italian giallo director Dario Argento why so many beautiful girls are murdered in his movies. He replied that the dictates of the giallo require that one or more persons die, and that the audience would rather watch beautiful girls being killed than ugly ones.

above the noise of the least gifted warbler singing on the radio.

So, Katy Perry exists in this alternate universe as well?

Yes, I agree that there is a serious problem with mass entertainment. I was making an example and wanted to include something from the arts. I have some experience with music entertainment and concede that the best are not necessarily represented among the most successful.

Is it just me or is the 7.5-7.9 the most attractive on that grid?

I thought that was interesting too. I think perhaps it's something to do with the nature of the averaging process, where a bunch of faces averaged look better than the individual faces up to the point of being "good" looking, but exceptionally good looking faces have more to lose than gain.

For example, I've read that for women, the more contrast the better (which is why makeup works) and it's likely you lose a lot of that in the averaging process.

I'm surprised there's no mention downsides to being an attractive man. I think they certainly exist, but perhaps the net is positive?

As far as I'm aware being an attractive male doesn't hinder your chances in the STEM fields as it maybe would a female.

I think it can work against you, people might not take you seriously as an engineer if you're too goodlooking or well built.

Don't know why you were downvoted. I've noticed this too. Someone who works out a lot (noticeably muscular) is stereotyped in academia or STEM professions.

I can understand there being an issue for being overly muscular, but I also don't think that being overly muscular equals being good looking. This is probably a very common mistake that men make when pursuing better looks.

> I also don't think that being overly muscular equals being good looking

I know. I didn't imply that.

I'm a pretty good looking man by conventional standards. In my n=1 experience the benefits far outweigh any downside. I actually can't think about any downside.

I know this sounds cocky, but I thought it might add to the discussion.

Being good looking is fucking awesome. So is being smart. Both are a combination of genetics and hard work.


You might be able to overcome that by investing in some jam-jar glasses and a thinkgeek t shirt. Bonus points for food or armpit stains.

Good looks during young age remove the incentive to communicate well, so when the looks inevitably expire one might end up not as well-adjusted as their average-looking peers.

Straight porn. They don't want attractive men, it makes male viewers feel inadequate.

Not that I'm the best to judge, but male porn actors seem to be mostly in pretty good shape.

these days they're all young and fit and well endowed. but the camera is never focused on them or their faces, like in the old days.

the ron jeremy days are long gone.

He was young and fit in the seventies. He's just stayed around in that business long after his expiration date.

I seem to recall that the original assumption in porn was that men would prefer unattractive men, but reality (as measured by sales) proved different.

If that was the case, why wouldn't they all have micopenises?

What downsides?

Well, cosx summed it up nicely [1].

I would add, in all seriousness, that it can make dealing with women a problem.

I think it's widely accepted that some men are apt do all kinds of foolish, prideful things in response to working with a woman they find attractive.

Some women are hardly different.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5610378

You might get deported like that Saudi guy for being too handsome.

You can also be targeted by other men (of a different race for example) that feel threatened by you - or women too, the bitter type, in all seriousness.

To make it easier for your probable world view: being a very good looking tall black man for example, won't necessarily have everyone open up to you with smiles on their faces (especially if you don't necessarily want to assimilate into their 'culture'/social structure).

Being a very good looking asian (yes they exist, haha) guy myself - I would say I have experienced many instances in my life where white men have attempted to sabotage me.

People like things that make them feel/seem more powerful, and hate things that tend to do the opposite.

Are you sure they attempted to sabotage you because they were threatened by your looks and not some other reason?

No guarantee's there, but I can say that it works both ways. Xenophobia and these sorts of biases exist and are normal parts of being a human being.

I would say, it's better to accept that these biases exist, so that you can take them into account when reasoning - rather than trying to delude yourself into thinking you are in entire control of all that is going on in your mind (and body).

I mean, what caused you to believe they were sabotaging you based on looks? I'm sure there are all kinds of odd reasons why somebody might do that, but it seems like an odd one to assume unless there's a reason for it.

it's not because you're an asian, it's because you're good looking.

the same thing happens to good looking white guys and good looking women (around other women) too.

you've never heard the term 'prettyboy'? it's used all the time to put down good looking men.

> You might get deported like that Saudi guy for being too handsome.

I still have not seen a credible source for that and basically think it's a PR stunt.

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