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Do we really discriminate against unattractiveness?

Short answer:

Yes. We’re human and biologically wired to look for beauty (in everything).

Long answer:

Being attractive is not necessarily based on your actual looks.

It means you are dressing well, taking care of your appearance and trying your best to look good, rather than giving up completely, wearing clothes too big with holes in them, and not bothering to take care of your appearance.

Ever hear of the French term jolie laide?

It means literally “pretty + ugly” (not “pretty ugly”, as you might think of it in English), and it refers to stereotypically ugly women who are considered pretty because they make an effort.

It’s a French idea that even “ugly” women can be considered beautiful with the right clothes, makeup, proper grooming, and most of all, a good personality with a smile.

The most iconic figure for the term jolie laide (not meant to be used derogatorily), is Diana Vreeland.


Diana Vreeland was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion magazines Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1965. (Via)

No one could truthfully say she is a beautiful woman with her more masculine features, but she is considered pretty because she knows how to dress and present herself at her very best.

In addition, being attractive can also work against you if you’re a woman, but not if you’re a man, mostly because women HR managers tend to penalize beautiful women for job roles out of jealousy, even if they are competent for the job.


“Investing in your appearance can grab you between 10-12 percent more than your dowdier colleagues for both men and women.”

This is what Catherine Hakim of Erotic Capital, calls the ‘beauty premium’ (a great read!!).

Another article from Washington Post stated that it was a salary bump of 22% more:

Their research suggested that grooming – practices such as applying makeup and styling hair and clothing — was actually what accounted for nearly all of the salary differences for women of varying attractiveness.

For men, grooming didn’t make as much of a difference.

I will point out that there is also the fact that when you’re beautiful or handsome, you probably already know it from an early enough age (at least, before you start your career). You know it enough to use it to your advantage, and as a result, you grow up more confident and perhaps more bold enough to ask for raises year-over-year.

Other less attractive folk may not grow up as confident in themselves, and are perhaps less likely to ask for said raises as a result. As I always say: It doesn’t hurt to ask!!!!

My face doesn’t matter in this case – you can see with some simple pieces, I am ‘well-dressed’ or well-groomed.


(Attractive by the conventional sense of ‘attractiveness’)

These are the markers of beauty in society for both men and women:

  • Straight, white teeth (although very white teeth scare me)
  • Clear, glowing skin with an even skin tone
  • Neat and clean nails — Nothing yellow, long, or with dirt underneath them
  • Lustrous well-kept hair — A modern updated haircut does wonders
  • A fit and healthy figure — gives your skin a healthy glow
  • Being tall (most advantageous for men)
  • Wearing clothes that fit and don’t have holes or stains on them and flatter you in the right colours, cuts and fits.- just having a clean outfit won’t cut it if you look terrible in it, and therefore, feel terrible as well (or people perceive you to not feel comfortable or not as groomed as you could be)
  • Your posture is straight and healthy — No hunching!!

Notice a theme here?

Beauty has everything to do with looking and being healthy and looking neat and clean.

Eat well. Exercise. Sleep your required 8 hours a day.

For men, the above applies as a good general rule, so don’t forget that eating fruits and vegetables can really improve your looks.

For women, it also includes a little makeup (not a lot!!).

Wearing a little makeup can go a long way to making women earn more money by looking more attractive and competent — a little eyeliner, concealer and perhaps some tinted lip balm and you are good to go.

And no, plastic surgery is not generally the answer. I personally won’t do anything surgical to my face, but I could explore non-invasive treatments like LED light facials.

The only part that is difficult, is how to dress properly for your body, and to look well-groomed. For that, I have a whole list of posts under my Style category for you to peruse.

There you go. Go forth and increase your earning power!


  • Liquid_Independence

    I wonder if jolie laide can be used for men as well, or if there’s an equivalent term to describe men. Metro perhaps? lol. A big part of looking good is taking proper care of ourselves, but some things like being tall are not as easy to control. I think for most of us it’s about doing what we can with the cards we’ve been dealt with to look our best. Some people are big boned, and gain weight without eating much, while others can get toned looking bodies with the same workout routine and diet. Everyone’s body is different, it’s not fair, but at least we know there are always ways we can improve our own looks 😀 Great post, and thanks for the mention.

  • PK

    I’ve played this game, haha.

    Here’s the million dollar question: how much of the outsized salary boost is due to attractiveness versus how much of the attractiveness is due to someone taking pride in their appearance (and their confidence paying dividends). Roughly, what causes what?

    • Mochi & Macarons

      That’s the part that can’t be explained. I think it’s a bit of both.

      Beauty does give you an edge for the job over other people (BF was a hiring manager before and was always pressured to hire cute girls so the office would look nicer, but he went for those who could do the job and didn’t care about their looks..).

      Personally, I think the confidence boost does more than looks itself.

  • Elle

    I thought I was the only one that found ultra white teeth unsettling.

  • MelD

    What a limited definition of attractiveness! It also sounds extremely north American, sadly. Perhaps this doesn’t reflect your own opinion?

    Personally, a humourous, friendly, pleasant, cheeky or inviting smile and a twinkle in the eye go much further towards feeling that someone is attractive than this list. Sure, being reasonably clean and neat is “nice” but can I not find someone attractive if their teeth, skin or figure aren’t perfect?! Goodness, poor acned teens… and I know a lot of beautiful old people with bent bodies, wrinkled skin, uneven teeth…
    And sure, being tall can be an advantage, though I have also found that my husband and BIL are often considered arrogant just because they are taller, which is not true of either of them. And I will never be able to alter the fact that I am only 5’2″ – the higher the heels I might try wearing, the more ridiculous I would look!!
    I would take all this with an extremely big pinch of salt ;o

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Agreed! I think it is very North American to think of the list as the be all and end all.
      Unfortunately it is something that is very true here. People look for white teeth and good skin which is why the beauty industry is worth billions.
      But it really adds up in a better salary.

      In Europe, BF has said over and over again that people are not as looks obsessed as here, and we both find it a bit scary at times, how far people will go.
      Which is also why I featured Vreeland as the example that it can be more than looks.

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