Are Your Looks Grade A?

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By Jessica Bovee 

Looks matter. The media often covers the discrimination against race or gender, but attractiveness is rarely addressed. However, it’s a problem now, because the pretty people are benefiting. Not only are people holding the door for them, but now they are receiving the better grades and jobs.

Whether it’s at school or at work, people deemed more beautiful are getting the upper-hand in life simply based on their genetics. We may think teachers wouldn’t discriminate based on their students’ attractiveness, but one recently released study proves this unjust phenomenon.

Rey Hernandez-Julian and Christina Peters released an insightful study about student appearance and academic performance at the University of Denver in 2015, according to Anya Kamenetz from the Northwest Public Radio. The study showed that pretty girls are getting better grades, and get this, when the exact same students from the study took online classes, the pretty-benefits disappeared.

We may have known that good looks mattered, people care about the aesthetics, but we may have not known this could be affecting our GPA’s. College life is seen as a time  of personal growth and as a place where learning is highly valued. The results of this study make us question not just the educational system, but humanity all together. Knowing that there is a chance that I am being penalized or rewarded in an assignment based on my appearance is unsettling.

Belinda Luscombe from Time Magazine found that studies proved “attractive people also get more call-backs for jobs and are perceived as healthier and more trustworthy.” Attractiveness can not only help a person’s grades, but also their ability to get the job after they have dominated in the classroom. So what happens to the people deemed less attractive than those biologically-blessed?

Deborah Rhode from the Washington Post reminds us of just how important looks can be. In 2001, an aerobics instructor was denied a franchise because she was not as fit as they had wanted. While 240 pounds, she exercised 6 days a week and taught her own popular weekly classes, however, she didn’t fit the preconceived “image” the company had. Another woman from New Jersey was denied a larger uniform when her size 4 figure became a 6 after a thyroid condition set in. She was told that waitresses like her don’t go up in size, unless of course it’s for breast implants, in which case they are given paid medical leave and a better fitting uniform.

Men are affected by this discrimination as well. Joe Pinsker from the Atlantic covers the uneven salaries amongst men who are tall and those who are shorter. He tells us of one analysis that every extra inch in the study is an $800 increase in yearly earnings. We look up to tall people both literally and figuratively when it comes to the workplace. Employers naturally see a taller man as more of a leader, and so does everyone else.

Well, we realize there is a disadvantage. We are part of both a system and culture that favors our appearances as opposed to our abilities. We have this idea of how someone should look based on their weight, facial symmetry, height, or what have you. We know that the more attractive and fit men and women are in our magazines, but now they’re the ones going into law school too.

There may be something else these attractive individuals have that may be helping them in class and at work: self-confidence. These pretty individuals generally know they are pretty because of how they have been treated, and because of this they may exude a greater sense of achievement and worthiness in the classroom or in a job interview.

Birmingham Counseling Services outlines the importance of self-confidence, especially when it comes to our relationships with others. More confident people are more likely to enjoy stronger relationship bonds. Maybe that could extend to our teachers or employers. The article also outlines how this confidence can lead to more success, and how people can actually start looking at you as a role model. Your confidence has the potential to blind viewers and instead have your true self be what is accepted and admired.

Maybe owning your appearance won’t enhance your grade, but it could improve how people perceive you. Inner-confidence and acceptance of yourself could radiate beauty, regardless of the gap between your teeth or even if your eyes are too far apart. Own your scholastics, own your job, own yourself because you are beautiful and you do not need the world’s validation.

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