The Modern Workplace: Beauty Bias Or 'Lookism' In The Office May Still Exist [Video]


Beauty bias is the discrimination toward physically unattractive people. This phenomenon can be witnessed in various social settings but is said to be more prevalent in the workplace.

It is classified differently from racial, cultural and sexual discrimination but these may play a part in beauty bias, which is also known as "lookism." It is more widespread and affects how some people are perceived. It also affects the opportunities they get in relationships or in jobs.

According to the official website of Stanford's The Clayman Institute for Gender Research, there is less likelihood for unattractive individuals to be hired and promoted. Moreover, they are assumed to be less good, kind or honest.

Beauty bias causes several individuals to experience stigma and discrimination. This leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating disorders, depression, risky dieting as well as choosing to go through unsafe cosmetic procedures.

Above the Law reported that a study by Professor Comila Shahani-Denning found that beauty bias is present in the area of employment decision making. Attractiveness has been revealed to influence an interviewer's judgment of job applicants.

Stanford law professor, Deborah Rhode, noted that majority of overweight people faced discrimination in the workplace. This applied to short men as well.

Psychology Today added that reverse beauty bias also affects attractive people, especially women, who applied for traditionally male jobs. These are jobs that do not necessarily emphasize appearance or interpersonal contact such as switchboard operators or tow-truck drivers.

Both male and female employers opted for less attractive women for these jobs. Rice University's Ken Podratz said that this could be because physical attractiveness is correlated with perceived femininity in women.

Beauty bias is a difficult issue to address and correct mainly because a lot of people still feel uncomfortable talking about ugliness or being fat. Furthermore, there are only a few places that implement laws to protect against appearance discrimination: Michigan; the District of Columbia; Santa Cruz, California; Madison, Wisconsin; Urbana, Ilinois; Howard County, Maryland; and San Francisco, among others.

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