Julie Chen’s announcement last week on The Talk that she had eyelid surgery to remove her “Asian eyes” was met with support by some and disdain by others. After discrimination in the workplace, when her News Director in Dayton Ohio told her “You will never be on this anchor desk because you’re Chinese,” she decided to undergo eyelid surgery. She was told her eyes were too small, too heavy, and made her look disinterested and bored.
Without a doubt, we are a visual society with an emphasis on looking young. Last year there were 14.6 cosmetic procedures performed nationally with breast augmentation, nose reshaping and eyelid surgery being in the top three. The rise of dermal fillers has also increased dramatically, as this can be a non-invasive way to get rid of wrinkles or frown lines that make people look older.
Can the way you look help you to land a better job? Is there workplace discrimination against those deemed less attractive? Without a doubt, the studies say yes.
Job Market Fuels Increase in Plastic Surgery
More and more men and women are undergoing plastic surgery to help them get ahead in their careers. In this highly competitive job market, it is not unusual to want to have an edge. And cosmetic surgery is not relegated to just Hollywood movie stars – everyone from teachers, students and moms – are undergoing makeovers, from eyelid surgery, facelifts and tummy tucks to rhinoplasty breast augmentations, and more.
Throughout the corporate world, there is an emphasis on image which goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence. And the facts support this. Studies have shown that people who are more attractive get better promotions and make three to four times more money than those considered less attractive. The book by Gordon Patzer, titled: Looks: Why They Matter More Than Ever Imagined confirms this. Female executives see plastic surgery as a means to climb the corporate ladder. One study in Holland, for example, showed that companies with better looking management consistently billed more hours at higher rates than companies with average looking management.
And this is not just about women. Men feel the pressure just as much. A recent article shows an 8% increase in men receiving Botox injections in the highly competitive financial world of Wall Street. Additionally, tall men make more than short men.
And as far as college graduates are concerned? Many are asking for plastic surgery as a graduation present, because good looking college graduates are more likely to be hired. Employees themselves tend to be willing to try harder for better-looking bosses. And attractive supervisors are perceived as more credible and more persuasive. Sadly, it seems that looks are more important than intelligence. According to research from Tiziana Casciaro, professor of management at the University of Toronto, it’s more valuable to be liked than to be competent.
Unfortunately, this discrimination starts when we are young. Mothers give better care to good-looking babies. Teachers do a better job of teaching good-looking students. It’s no wonder that, as people age, this prejudice carries through.
Looking Great on Facebook
Even the pressures of looking good on Facebook, Google and other social mediums are igniting an increase in plastic surgery. A recent poll from the American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) reports that social media activity may be driving an increase in plastic surgery requests. In fact, this study found that surgeons are seeing a 31% increase in plastic surgery requests as a result of how people wanted to be portrayed on social media.
Because social media is all about seeing and being seen, it makes sense that both employers and employees are turning to Facebook to check out candidates. Many employers Google a candidate before the first interview. And you never know when your picture is going to turn up on Instagram, You Tube, or Pinterest.
China Gets In On The Action
Looking good for work appearances is not confined to the United States. In a survey conducted by International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the United States came out on top as the country in which surgical and non-surgical procedures are conducted the most. This was followed by Brazil in second place, China in third, India in fourth, and Mexico in fifth.
Chinese politicians, who often appear on television, are having eyelid lifts, Botox treatments, and facial surgeries in record proportions. Why? They “need to portray a strong leadership and confidence.” Plastic surgery has grown to a multi-billion dollar-a-year industry in China and is climbing at a rate of 20% annually. And many Chinese are going to extremes and undergoing risky operations such as “leg stretching” surgery. In order to meet height requirements for jobs, men and women have paid tens of thousands of yuan to have their bones broken so that doctors could insert steel pins under the knees and above the ankles. At least we are not going this far in the United States!
It seems that Julie Chen is not alone.
It’s Not Just About Plastic Surgery
Although plastic surgery has become more affordable over the last 20 years, it is still out of the question for people in particular income levels. There are other ways to improve your appearance which show a link between attractiveness and career advancement.
- Exercise. Although plastic surgery can give a boost to your career and job hunting prospects, there are other ways to look younger and healthier. Exercise is necessary. In fact, 90% percent of CEOs work out three times a week because they know powerful people are almost always fit. Studies have shown that fat women earn less than skinny women. It pays to be fit not only for your appearance, but your health, as well. And it’s a factor in life that you can control.
- Bleach your teeth. Just as cosmetic surgery has increased, so too have the number of people getting their teeth straightened, capped and bleached. A great smile goes a long way. Employees with a bright, white smile are perceived as more open and engaging than their counterparts. Each year, Americans spend approximately $1.4 billion on tooth-whitening products — and that’s just over-the-counter solutions.
- Color your hair. There is no doubt that gray hair makes you look older.Consider covering up the gray with highlights or all over color.
Bottom Line: Appearance Counts
It seems that “lookism” is universal. Both males and females are undergoing plastic surgery because they fear job competition and being displaced by younger workers. To project an image of good health and success, one fifth of working women admit they’d consider plastic surgery to further their career.
Better-looking people earn more. It’s a sad fact, perhaps, but one that can’t be escaped. On the other hand, there are personal benefits plastic surgery can provide: you not only stand a better chance of getting the job you want and of earning a higher income, but a “new you” can also boost your self-confidence and revitalize your self-esteem. That, more than anything, makes the effort and the price way more than worthwhile.
Dr. Justin Yovino of Ideal Face and Body is a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon specializing in the most advanced surgical techniques in the field, including aesthetic, reconstructive, and hand surgery. He is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery, a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and a Certified Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Yovino has been published in respected peer-reviewed plastic surgery journals, has presented his clinical work at plastic surgery meetings, and is an expert plastic surgery contributor for realself.com.
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