Affirmative Action For Ugly People?

nerdIs being hideous a disability? Severe unattractiveness may be the final frontier in regards to discrimination based on physical characteristics. In the New York Times, economist Daniel S. Hamermesh makes the case for affirmative action for the ugly:

The effects are not small: one study showed that an American worker who was among the bottom one-seventh in looks, as assessed by randomly chosen observers, earned 10 to 15 percent less per year than a similar worker whose looks were assessed in the top one-third — a lifetime difference, in a typical case, of about $230,000.

In addition to whatever personal pleasure it gives you, being attractive also helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse (and one who looks better, too!) and get better deals on mortgages. Each of these facts has been demonstrated over the past 20 years by many economists and other researchers.

Why this disparate treatment of looks in so many areas of life? It’s a matter of simple prejudice. Most of us, regardless of our professed attitudes, prefer as customers to buy from better-looking salespeople, as jurors to listen to better-looking attorneys, as voters to be led by better-looking politicians, as students to learn from better-looking professors. This is not a matter of evil employers’ refusing to hire the ugly: in our roles as workers, customers and potential lovers we are all responsible for these effects.

A more radical solution may be needed: why not offer legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals?

We actually already do offer such protections in a few places, including in some jurisdictions in California, and in the District of Columbia, where discriminatory treatment based on looks in hiring, promotions, housing and other areas is prohibited. Ugliness could be protected generally in the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act. We could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly.

For purposes of administering a law, we surely could agree on who is truly ugly, perhaps the worst-looking 1 or 2 percent of the population. The difficulties in classification are little greater than those faced in deciding who qualifies for protection on grounds of disabilities that limit the activities of daily life, as shown by conflicting decisions in numerous legal cases involving obesity.

Economic arguments for protecting the ugly are as strong as those for protecting some groups currently covered by legislation. So why not go ahead and expand protection to the looks-challenged? There’s one legitimate concern. With increasingly tight limits on government resources, expanding rights to yet another protected group would reduce protection for groups that have commanded our legislative and other attention for over 50 years.

We face a trade-off: ignore a deserving group of citizens, or help them but limit help available for other groups. Even though I myself have demonstrated the disadvantages of ugliness in 20 years of research, I nonetheless would hate to see anything that might reduce assistance to groups now aided by protective legislation.

You might reasonably disagree and argue for protecting all deserving groups. Either way, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the United States heading toward this new legal frontier.

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  • chubby

    A complete equality has to go all the way, a most ignored and important issue, not just pertaining to us as a species, but also individually…

    • justagirl

      your chubby ass just sunk right to the bottom didn’t it.  … oh wait.  doh!

  • chubby

    A complete equality has to go all the way, a most ignored and important issue, not just pertaining to us as a species, but also individually…

  • Hadrian999

    as a fugly man I find this absurd

    • bobbiethejean

      As a not-fugly person, I find you absurd. It’s a logical argument and all you can say is you find it absurd?

      • Hadrian999

        the escalation of what constitutes a handicap is absurd, what’s next stupid people, boring people, people without a sense of humor, people who wear white after labor day. the way things are going HR people are going to be forced hire completely random people to avoid offending some group.

        • Tuna Ghost

          I see your point, I really do, but if there is large-scale discrimination against fugly people (I’m not convinced that there is, the study has a lot of holes in in) something really ought to be done.  

        • Yomomma

          Next you’ll be handicapped for being black or jewish.. and get hiring…wait a minute…

    • Tuna Ghost

      Whatever the article says, the discrimination is likely focussed primarily on women rather than men.  

  • Hadrian999

    as a fugly man I find this absurd

  • Guest

    This is a serious issue. I was born with moles all over my face, and as the result I’ve been repeatedly rejected after interviewing for even minimum wage fast food work.

    Severely ugly people are the last minority that it’s socially acceptable to ostracize. I used to be bitter about my looks, but in recent years I started to feel like my facial deformity was a gift that allowed me to see the true nature of humanity. At this point, I could get them removed but I refuse to.

    • Azathoth

      >>Severely ugly people are the last minority that it’s socially acceptable to ostracize

      Don’t forget fat people. Unless you included them in your definition of “ugly”, as most people do.
      And yeah, sure, you can change fat. It doesn’t really justify all the hate though..

      • Tuna Ghost

        Ha!  I was about to mention fat people too.

  • fuzzgun

    This is a serious issue. I was born with moles all over my face, and as the result I’ve been repeatedly rejected after interviewing for even minimum wage fast food work.

    Severely ugly people are the last minority that it’s socially acceptable to ostracize. I used to be bitter about my looks, but in recent years I started to feel like my facial deformity was a gift that allowed me to see the true nature of humanity. At this point, I could get them removed but I refuse to.

  • Mark

    this is stupid.. people choose to be ugly by not taking care of themselves

    I think EVERYONE has the ability to be good looking by practicing good hygiene, having a style that works and suits them..

    There are some exceptions of course like the elephant man.. but other
    than that instead of whining and complaining that you are ugly, do
    something about it. spend some time getting ready in the morning,spend
    some money nice clothes avoid places like wal-mart.

    The reason why they don’t hire slobs is because if they are not going to
    put any effort to looking good then they are not going to put any
    effort into their job.

    • Dystopian

      You are plainly an idiot Mark,

    • knockoutmouse

      Yup, apathy and laziness affect bone structure, too. 

    • MoralDrift

      I hope you are being facetious….if not then you are a moron

    • Tuna Ghost

      Yeah, um, did you forget about birth defects?  Skin disease?  Glandular problems?  Not having enough money to pay for expensive cosmetic products?  

  • Mark

    this is stupid.. people choose to be ugly by not taking care of themselves

    I think EVERYONE has the ability to be good looking by practicing good hygiene, having a style that works and suits them..

    There are some exceptions of course like the elephant man.. but other
    than that instead of whining and complaining that you are ugly, do
    something about it. spend some time getting ready in the morning,spend
    some money nice clothes avoid places like wal-mart.

    The reason why they don’t hire slobs is because if they are not going to
    put any effort to looking good then they are not going to put any
    effort into their job.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Hey! its ugly people’s fault for not spending thousands of dollars on dangerous plastic surgeries to make themselves pretty.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

    Hey! its ugly people’s fault for not spending thousands of dollars on dangerous plastic surgeries to make themselves pretty.

  • Dystopian

    You are plainly an idiot Mark,

  • Anonymous

    Yup, apathy and laziness affect bone structure, too. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bobbie-Jean-Pentecost/100000391760333 Bobbie Jean Pentecost

    As a not-fugly person, I find you absurd. It’s a logical argument and all you can say is you find it absurd?

  • Anonymous

    I hope you are being facetious….if not then you are a moron

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always thought that in terms of discrimination in the workplace, one could be no worse off than being an ugly woman, in terms of hiring prospects, good assignments, and promotions. Mainly because of the reverse effect seen for attractive women, I would wager that when it is men making hiring/promotion/placement decisions, the relative attractiveness of male candidates is far less crucial than the relative attractiveness of female candidates. When you factor in the documented biases against women in general, you have a serious case for working to end discrimination against the “ugly”

  • MoralDrift

    I’ve always thought that in terms of discrimination in the workplace, one could be no worse off than being an ugly woman, in terms of hiring prospects, good assignments, and promotions. Mainly because of the reverse effect seen for attractive women, I would wager that when it is men making hiring/promotion/placement decisions, the relative attractiveness of male candidates is far less crucial than the relative attractiveness of female candidates. When you factor in the documented biases against women in general, you have a serious case for working to end discrimination against the “ugly”

  • Devil’s Advocate

    I dunno about this. Too many of the shit starters and dramas queens in the workplace are UGLY WOMEN. I have never gotten into it with an attractive female, just ugly women with chips on their shoulders and rolls on their sides.I don’t think it will slide. Ugly women on the job means workplace drama, which takes away from productivity. 

  • Devil’s Advocate

    I dunno about this. Too many of the shit starters and dramas queens in the workplace are UGLY WOMEN. I have never gotten into it with an attractive female, just ugly women with chips on their shoulders and rolls on their sides.I don’t think it will slide. Ugly women on the job means workplace drama, which takes away from productivity. 

    • Tuna Ghost

      I have never gotten into it with an attractive female, just ugly women with chips on their shoulders and rolls on their sides.

      And I’m certain, absolutely certain, it has nothing to do with how these women are treated by yourself and others.  I mean, the very notion is crazy.

      Totally.

      Totally crazy.  

      • Yu No Hu

        You’re on point, Tuna Ghost.  People like Devil’s Advocate are the ones with the real problem.  They were taught, from the time they could crawl, who’s pretty (translation–who’s “good”) and who’s ugly (“bad”).  Unfortunately, they carry that mindset into adulthood, 24/7/365. 

  • justagirl

    your chubby ass just sunk right to the bottom didn’t it.  … oh wait.  doh!

  • Hadrian999

    the escalation of what constitutes a handicap is absurd, what’s next stupid people, boring people, people without a sense of humor, people who wear white after labor day. the way things are going HR people are going to be forced hire completely random people to avoid offending some group.

  • twinkie the kid

    not sure if trolling…or just stupid.

  • twinkie the kid

    not sure if trolling…or just stupid.

  • Azathoth

    >>Severely ugly people are the last minority that it’s socially acceptable to ostracize

    Don’t forget fat people. Unless you included them in your definition of “ugly”, as most people do.
    And yeah, sure, you can change fat. It doesn’t really justify all the hate though..

  • Tuna Ghost

    Ha!  I was about to mention fat people too.

  • Tuna Ghost

    Yeah, um, did you forget about birth defects?  Skin disease?  Glandular problems?  Not having enough money to pay for expensive cosmetic products?  

  • Tuna Ghost

    I see your point, I really do, but if there is large-scale discrimination against fugly people (I’m not convinced that there is, the study has a lot of holes in in) something really ought to be done.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Here in South Korea, it is commonly understood that if you’re an unattractive woman then your job options will be severely limited.  There’s no laws on the books to protect against discrimination based on attractiveness.  It’s partly because of the culture, but the booming plastic surgery business no doubt has a hand in it.  Plastic surgery here is as common as braces in the west, it’s not uncommon for children to get surgery as presents for graduation or birthdays.  Some of my colleagues have told me about their students, some as young as 5, getting epithetic fold surgery to make their eyes look more western.  This and rhinoplasty are the most common surgeries, but it’s not strange for high school girls to have muscles surgically removed from their legs to make them skinnier.  I’ll come to work and see one of my students mincing around in obvious pain and then say “teacher, this was my birthday present!  My legs are so skinny and beautiful!” when I ask why they’re limping around.   

    I heard on NPR a few years ago that its a growing problem in places like Mexico, where job offers in the paper blatantly state that a pretty face is a requirement for being hired.  This is for jobs like working in reception, or secretary work, or basically any job where you’re the first face someone sees when business is about to get started.  I wouldn’t mind so much if this was required for men too, but the odds of that are slim to nil.  It’s targeted at women first and foremost, which is obviously not fair.  

    Fortunately for me, my ethnic heritage is largely slavic, which means high cheekbones, great hair and colorful eyes.  It also means unusually large and muscular thighs, but that’s easy enough to hide.  Plus I can squat thrust a honda, so y’know, there’s that too.  A gorgeous person whose knee-bend can generate 1,500 pounds of torque, who wouldn’t want to hire that?  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Here in South Korea, it is commonly understood that if you’re an unattractive woman then your job options will be severely limited.  There’s no laws on the books to protect against discrimination based on attractiveness.  It’s partly because of the culture, but the booming plastic surgery business no doubt has a hand in it.  Plastic surgery here is as common as braces in the west, it’s not uncommon for children to get surgery as presents for graduation or birthdays.  Some of my colleagues have told me about their students, some as young as 5, getting epithetic fold surgery to make their eyes look more western.  This and rhinoplasty are the most common surgeries, but it’s not strange for high school girls to have muscles surgically removed from their legs to make them skinnier.  I’ll come to work and see one of my students mincing around in obvious pain and then say “teacher, this was my birthday present!  My legs are so skinny and beautiful!” when I ask why they’re limping around.   

    I heard on NPR a few years ago that its a growing problem in places like Mexico, where job offers in the paper blatantly state that a pretty face is a requirement for being hired.  This is for jobs like working in reception, or secretary work, or basically any job where you’re the first face someone sees when business is about to get started.  I wouldn’t mind so much if this was required for men too, but the odds of that are slim to nil.  It’s targeted at women first and foremost, which is obviously not fair.  

    Fortunately for me, my ethnic heritage is largely slavic, which means high cheekbones, great hair and colorful eyes.  It also means unusually large and muscular thighs, but that’s easy enough to hide.  Plus I can squat thrust a honda, so y’know, there’s that too.  A gorgeous person whose knee-bend can generate 1,500 pounds of torque, who wouldn’t want to hire that?  

  • Tuna Ghost

    I have never gotten into it with an attractive female, just ugly women with chips on their shoulders and rolls on their sides.

    And I’m certain, absolutely certain, it has nothing to do with how these women are treated by yourself and others.  I mean, the very notion is crazy.

    Totally.

    Totally crazy.  

  • Tuna Ghost

    Whatever the article says, the discrimination is likely focussed primarily on women rather than men.  

  • Dukedevil914

    I would bet that the more indicative factor in the ugly people’s salaries is their confidence level. Here’s how it goes:

    Psychology has shown again and again that attractive people are more confident in their abilities, and are more outgoing, friendly, respected, etc. All of these traits are things that businesses care about, because they relate to your ability to make the business money. Thus, businesses would be willing to pay attractive people more because they are actually worth more business.

    Similarly, those feminists still decrying the “$0.75 for every $1 a man makes!” motto refuse to admit that virtually every economist knows that this is the result of lower confidence levels, as men tend to negotiate harder for higher salaries and raises.

    Is affirmative action appropriate if you can prove that those affected are worth substantially less money in salaries?

  • Dukedevil914

    I would bet that the more indicative factor in the ugly people’s salaries is their confidence level. Here’s how it goes:

    Psychology has shown again and again that attractive people are more confident in their abilities, and are more outgoing, friendly, respected, etc. All of these traits are things that businesses care about, because they relate to your ability to make the business money. Thus, businesses would be willing to pay attractive people more because they are actually worth more business.

    Similarly, those feminists still decrying the “$0.75 for every $1 a man makes!” motto refuse to admit that virtually every economist knows that this is the result of lower confidence levels, as men tend to negotiate harder for higher salaries and raises.

    Is affirmative action appropriate if you can prove that those affected are worth substantially less money in salaries?

  • Yomomma

    Next you’ll be handicapped for being black or jewish.. and get hiring…wait a minute…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1343055427 Furchen Iltis

    lol hilarious. i bet feminists came up with this one considering their looks are mostly not the best. thats why they got no man and became feminists in the first place ^^

  • Furchen Iltis

    lol hilarious. i bet feminists came up with this one considering their looks are mostly not the best. thats why they got no man and became feminists in the first place ^^

  • Yu No Hu

    You’re on point, Tuna Ghost.  People like Devil’s Advocate are the ones with the real problem.  They were taught, from the time they could crawl, who’s pretty (translation–who’s “good”) and who’s ugly (“bad”).  Unfortunately, they carry that mindset into adulthood, 24/7/365. 

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