That’s because those who look better also tend to get paid better – especially women. Recent research from the University of Illinois found attractive women on average receive an 8% salary premium, while attractive men get 4% extra. (However, an unattractive man pays a high penalty: below-average looking men on average receive a 13% lower salary, while women who lost the genetic lottery get 4% less).
And the perception among American women seems to be that cosmetic surgery is indeed a way to get ahead. Research done by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons found:
- 13% of working-age women say they would consider having a cosmetic medical procedure specifically to make them more confident and competitive in the job market
- 3% have already had a cosmetic procedure purely to increase their perceived value in the workplace
- 73% believe appearance plays a part in winning a position or promotion
However, it’s important not to belittle the struggles of other kinds of minorities in light of this research, says UI sociologist Barbara Risman.
“Although looks are in part inherited,” she says, “babies who are eventually labeled unattractive children do not begin life with the same cumulative disadvantages of, say, African-Americans, who are disproportionately likely to grow up in impoverished communities with inferior schools.”
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Before you roll your eyes at women who get plastic surgery, consider this: research indicates that, assuming the surgery is good enough to really make them more attractive, it’s probably a worthwhile financial investment in the long run.