Who gets the job? The fairest of them all!

Published: January 26, 2013
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Good looks do make life simpler and popularity easier. PHOTO: FILE

Good looks do make life simpler and popularity easier. PHOTO: FILE

Good looks do make life simpler and popularity easier. PHOTO: FILE The writer works as a senior sub-editor at The Express Tribune and tweets @FarahnazZahidi
KARACHI: 

If you are good-looking, chances are that this write-up will not make a whole lot of sense to you. Even if you get it, it won’t really stay in your system for too long, because you’ve got it easy in many ways.

Think about this: at the workplace, do people open doors for you more than your other counterparts who are plainer Janes? Does your boss make you stay in his room a wee bit longer for a work-related tete-a-tete, not because he or she is necessarily lecherous, but because you just bring a certain light to the room? More importantly, did you being a looker have a little bit to do with you getting the job more easily?

Good looks do make life simpler and popularity easier. Undeniably, cricketer Shahid Afridi and cricketer-politician Imran Khan have more than good looks to their credit. However, the fact remains that Afridi’s TV endorsements and Khan’s female vote bank do have something to do with their looks. Our hearts went out to Princess Diana but never Duchess Camilla Parker Bowles. Is that just because Diana was (undoubtedly) a good human being, or did Diana’s being stunning have something to do with being the people’s princess? Why do women who, at the hands of some callous remark of a man in their lives, feel less than beautiful and struggle with self-esteem issues decades later?

Good looks come in handy especially in the service industry, and by that I don’t just mean models or airhostesses, but even bankers and other professions pertaining to public relations. Even the girl who collects parking fees at Jinnah International Airport should be presentable, as should my maid. My point, however, is: where, then, do the non-lookers go and what do they go through?

Move over, racism. The latest kind of discrimination is here; it has always existed, but now they actually have a term for it — lookism.

Our inherent adoration of beauty is not a problem that should be blamed on society; it is our problem as a species. Some of us are, by no merit of our own, what American educator and activist Warren Farrell describes as “genetic celebrities”. This preferential treatment was once limited to the rishta bazaar, but with more women venturing into the workplace realm, this “body fascism” enters the work place too. Beautiful people have one less barrier at the workplace when it comes to success.

This does translate into a discrimination of sorts and many of us end up being discriminatory without even realising it. People guilty of this kind of discrimination may generally be socially aware and ethically correct. Yet, they end up doing things that may dampen someone’s prospects and shatter someone’s confidence — someone who falls short of the typical social notions of beauty.

How many times have you whispered “poor her, she’s ugly as hell” or “I don’t really blame her husband for his infidelity. I mean firstly, she’s tacky and secondly, she has horrible skin and bad teeth” to your attractive colleague as someone leaves the room. This doesn’t just stay limited to gossip. The ugly truth is that a better looking candidate may have secured a job instead of an equally or more qualified candidate with weight issues or severe acne.

In a so-called civilised society, even people who always stand up for the underdog and detest marginalisation on the basis of race or creed, end up discriminating on the basis of physical appearances. It is common that an obese person or a woman with unkempt hair may not get an opportunity in which her work involves socialising and networking. The discrimination, while mostly women-centric, can at times affect men too. Not only did Snow White have to be the fairest, the prince also had to be unarguably handsome.

It is natural to be attracted to all things beautiful. But at the workplace, in particular, impartiality is not a favour; it is a responsibility.

The writer works as a senior sub-editor at The Express Tribune and tweets @FarahnazZahidi

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2013.

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Correction: An earlier version of the story contained the word “partiality” in the last sentence instead of “impartiality”. The error is regretted.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Bling Bling
    Jan 27, 2013 - 12:32AM

    I remember reading in the newspaper, according to a research, good looking women are more likely to struggle to find jobs because the HR industry is dominated by females and I guess insecurity automatically comes into play. However, they are faster to make it to the top. Another, research pointed out that good looking people are more likely to be successful. Whether the success makes them more attractive or it really is good looks is another debate.

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  • Supersequel
    Jan 27, 2013 - 1:01AM

    Honestly, this practice does exist and I see it simply as anothe example of Darwinism. It’s your good looks and your personality that will get you a head or your intellect in workplace and most people, if not all, seem to have one advantage over the other. Plus, I can name you countries and regions like this: north and south anybody?

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  • Jan 27, 2013 - 2:31AM

    Being below average girl myself, I have experienced most of what is written. Whoever refutes it, is not being truthful.

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  • sensible
    Jan 27, 2013 - 7:08AM

    well done! You summed up the discrimination of society very well. I don’t really blame society for this, beauty always inspires humans, somehow we need to change the human mentality which seems really tough.

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  • Rajan Singh
    Jan 27, 2013 - 9:15AM

    very true and you made a great point. A ‘fitrat’ problem of everyone good looking or not good looking. Seems something in genes of us mankind.

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  • Queen
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:12AM

    I agree with the writer. The “good looks” phenomenon plus the “fairest of them all” mentality is present in the rishta market as the mothers of olive skinned boys seek “gori larki” so that their new generation can become fair too. In such situation, they neglect that the genes of both mother and father play an important role in determining child’s complexion.

    Secondly, yes I have seen several cases of what i will call “fair mania” existing in universities and at the work place too. I have seen teachers awarding good grades to girls with “looks” without any effort from the girl’s side while plain students had difficulties receiving good grades from such professors.

    This lookism exists at the work place too where you have to be not only presentable ( read dashing )but also compete with your colleagues to look younger every day.

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  • Asjad
    Jan 28, 2013 - 1:46PM

    Its probably human nature…not restricted to Pakistanis only…Being in a position of some level of decision making I try to avoid such judgement but trust me it takes a forced effort…

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  • Nobody
    Jan 29, 2013 - 6:03PM

    “How many times have you whispered “poor her, she’s ugly as hell” or “I don’t really blame her husband for his infidelity. I mean firstly, she’s tacky and secondly, she has horrible skin and bad teeth” to your attractive colleague as someone leaves the room. This doesn’t just stay limited to gossip.”
    Mmm, never…. In fact I’ve thankfully never come across anyone as superficial and nasty minded to actually utter such ridiculous, ugly words, and that, too, to another human being. Sick.

    That being said, unfortunately you may be right about the rest of it. The same is true in the states (to some extent, not quite as blatant as perhaps seen elsewhere). This also extends to men here. Taller men and better looking men, on average, make more money and climb the ladder faster. Same with women. Looks get you to the top faster. Of course we don’t see the justice behind it, and most of us don’t like or agree with the fact that that’s the way it is, but it’s an unfair and ugly reality. Universally, looks matter. Even on a subconscious level.

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  • Nobody
    Jan 30, 2013 - 2:02PM

    In short, while I’ve never ever had the urge to call someone ‘ugly’ or whisper behind their back nor have I been around anyone who would stoop to that level (thankfully), it’s an unfortunate universal truth that looks do matter, even if on a subconscious level. even here in the states, studies have shown that men who are taller (yes, taller) and better looking tend to make more money on average and climb the ladder faster. Same is true for women. People always appreciate something shiny and pretty. just wish it was easier to separating that from merit, experience and qualifications when in the job market or a similar situation. Recommend

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