Beauty Pays – Why Attractive People are More Successful


Beauty Pays –
Why Attractive People are More Successful
By Daniel S. Hamermesh
Princeton University Press – £12.50/$17.95

Beauty may well be in the eye of the beholder, but in this day and rather vacuous, ageist age of transparency, it does seem to tower above all else.

Almost every film, every music video, every advertisement, every car endorsement, even every section of the recent Tour de France; is celebrated with a cacophony of young, nubile totty, thrusting their rather salacious wares into the eye of the camera, as well as that of their own bank balance.

Could this partially be because, as Daniel S. Hamermesh writes in Beauty Pays – Why Attractive People Are More Successful: ‘’We are conditioned to believe that youth and beauty go together, since that belief encourages mating at a time when fecundity is near its maximum’’?

Or, could this essentially be because sex – regardless of how flippant, transient or subliminal – sells?

Within these 180 pages, Hamermesh endeavours to investigate these very issues, and while his findings are somewhat initially dry, they are also enticing, provocative and at times, encouraging.

I say encouraging as a result of the following: ‘’[…] in dating and marriage looks do matter initially. As The Beatles sang, ‘’Would you believe in a love at first sight? Yes I’m certain that it happens all the time’’ (‘With a Little Help From My Friends’). But most bad-looking people have other characteristics that can give them a romantic advantage that, with careful nurturing, can help remove the initial disadvantages that their physiognomies inflict on them. One could make the same arguments about credit and other markets. In the end, bad looks hurt us and will continue to hurt us. Looks are fate; but so are many other things. But bad looks are not a crucial disadvantage, not something that our own actions cannot at least partly overcome, and not something whose burden should be so overwhelming as to crush our spirit.’’

Suffice to say, the latter remark is mighty easier said than fundamentally understood, let alone done – especially among today’s young.

That said, there are a number of valid and interesting points made throughout these nine chapters, which in all, make for an interesting, albeit somewhat socially scientific read.

David Marx


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