AirTalk for September 20, 2011

Pretty pays but does ugly deserve protected status?

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Daniel. S. Hamermesh

Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful

The better looking you are the more likely it is that you’ll move up at your job, the more money you’ll make and the more attractive and wealthy your spouse will be. A new book by economist Daniel Hamermesh makes the case that how a person looks greatly impacts every aspect of their lives and being beautiful gives people a leg up on the competition in everything from jobs to getting good terms on a loan application.

According to Hamermesh, pretty people have it so good that those who are not similarly blessed may need a little extra help leveling the playing field. In an op-ed in the New York Times last month Hamermesh put forth the theory that ugly people are essentially being discriminated against on the basis of their looks and therefore deserve protected status under the American With Disabilities Act. He even recommends affirmative action programs for the unattractive. Hamermesh insists that this would be easier to do than it appears. First it’s not as hard as you’d think to determine who is beautiful, even though most of us say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The truth us there are certain standards of beauty that are universal, and the same goes for ugliness. He also says that although people may not like the idea of admitting they’re ugly to get special treatment, they may change their minds when the see how economically beneficial it will be.

WEIGH IN:

Is being ugly such a liability that those that suffer from it need legal protection? How have your looks positively or negatively impacted your life?

Guest:

Daniel. S. Hamermesh, author of Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful, Professor of Economics at the University of Texas, Austin, contributor to Freakonomics blog at Freakonomics.com


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