Didn’t Get the Job? Blame ‘Lookism’, as Discrimination Against the Ugly ‘Is the New Racism’

Luke Salkeld, Daily Mail (London), September 5, 2011

Some might consider it an ugly truth that attractive people are often more successful than those less blessed with looks.

But now our appearance is emerging in legal disputes as a new kind of discrimination.

‘Lookism’, it is claimed, is the new racism, and should be banished from civilised societies.

It is currently the subject of several court actions in America, and some experts say similar cases should be considered here too.

Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection.

‘My research shows being good-looking helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse and even get better deals on mortgages,’ he said.

‘Some people are born ugly and there’s not much they can do about it. You’re pretty much stuck with your looks.

‘Logically there’s no less reason to protect the ugly than the disabled, African Americans, other racial minorities or religious minorities, as we do. We could even have affirmative action for the ugly.’

But Lawrence Davies, of the Equal Justice law firm, believes we should be wary of amending current equality laws.

‘People who appear to be conventionally beautiful have fewer barriers to workplace success,’ he said. ‘However, protecting conventionally ugly people or offensively linking that condition to a disability would take society in the wrong direction.’

The issue has been highlighted by the case of Shirley Ivey, 61, who is suing her former employer in Washington for ‘lookism’. She left her job at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory affairs suffering from stress after allegedly being told by a supervisor that he would like her more if she was prettier.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that Germans think the average European looks just like them, while the Portuguese believe a Mediterranean appearance is more representative.

A study published in the journal Psychological Science found that when we are asked to describe a group we belong to, we tend to attribute our own features to that description.

Roland Imhoff, of the University of Bonn, recruited two sets of participants, in Germany and Portugal, and asked each person to study 770 pairs of pictures on a computer. The pictures were based on the same composite photo but had been subtly altered.

The subjects were asked which photo they felt looked most European.

Mr Average for the Portuguese group was a darker man with wider-set eyes.

But the person considered to be the average European by the Germans had lighter hair and Germanic features.

Dr Imhoff said: ‘It may be that this is just a sort of mental shortcut people use to think of an abstract concept, like “European” or “American”.

‘It may also be that people are expressing a kind of subtle belief that they think their group is better than others.’


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  • HH

    I’d love to see the oh-so-politically-correct entertainment industry explain how they are NOT engaged in the most egregious “lookism” campaign on earth! Were it not for their unapologetic championing of the obnoxiously attractive, they would have no busines at all. The discrimination against the plain, unattractive or just plain ugly is undeniable!

    Ok Hollywood – what’s your excuse for being so insensitive, so intolerant, so uninclusive?!?!

  • Jeddermann.

    Ugly in legal terms usually refers to someone horribly deformed in some manner. This is not the case here. And keep smiling too with polished artificially whitened teef. You know, like those fashion models do. And Greta the crime reporter who has a perpetual smile on her face.

  • Anonymous

    You can add to the disgraced, not only being white, educated, employed, responsible to your family and neighbors, and with good personal hygiene, but being good looking as well.

  • Urban Teacher

    HH — good point!

    Let’s start with Hollywood on this issue!

  • Sylvie

    Well, it looks like I’m a ‘lookist’ as well; I’ll add it to my list. Speaking as a lookist, I’d sure rather look at Brigitte Bardot or Francoise Hardy that Tracy Chapman or Nina Simone.

    I’m just being honest here people!

  • Anonymous

    2 — Jeddermann. wrote at 7:33 PM on September 6:

    Ugly in legal terms usually refers to someone horribly deformed in some manner. This is not the case here. And keep smiling too with polished artificially whitened teef. You know, like those fashion models do. And Greta the crime reporter who has a perpetual smile on her face.


    Had to laugh at your post….Greta is one odd looking woman, isn’t she? Can’t say ugly anymore I guess, but pretty darn close.

  • Flamethrower

    I know the solution to this problem. Make people wear burkhas to job interviews!

  • Anonymous

    Where does it end???? A couple of years ago I was hired for a office job by a small business owned by a man who was a third generation of this fiancial place.

    My first day there he thought I could figure out the last person’s 10 years mess before noon because I used to work in a bank for five years, so that set the mood for the day. To top it off he didn’t realize I was pregnant, so that set him off. (I was 5 months at that time)

    I finally asked him why he hired me. His response was he liked the way I looked & would look good when greeting clients. I must’ve had a dumb founded look on my face & asked to elaborate. He said it was because I was the only person he interviewed (which was a 20 minute interview) who took pride in their appearance & he could tell I bathed. I still looked dumb founded. This owner told me the employment agency said he wasn’t allowed to ask for potential employees that dressed professional with good hygiene, because he was being discrimitating!!! It wasm’t fair!! Can you believe that?

    This was a well established financial/investment firm. Who would trust their money with someone who looked like a gutter rat???? Isn’t that sad?

  • F. Galton

    What exactly is Hamermesh doing? Is he equating affirmative action for blacks with affirmative action for the ugly in order to discredit the case for blacks or to enhance the case for the ugly?

    Maybe he’s playing a deep game, but I suspect that this is just the latest bit of foolishness from someone who is clever with statistics but clueless on science. Most of his recent research has aimed at showing that early childhood education can really work–that environment, not genes, determine everything. Hamermesh is probably the most reputable person keeping alive the fantasy that public policy can close inter-racial achievement gaps.

  • MAJ

    The only solution is that from now on, when you go to a movie, you have to wear that thing over your eyes that blocks out the light when you sleep.

    But, perhaps a nice voice would be “audioism,” so you’ll also have to wear earplugs.

    But then, blacks won’t be able to look at the screen and yell narrative obscenities at the tops of their lungs. That’s racism.

    Applying the logic spouted by the moron’s quoted in this article, in 30 years, the remaining white workers in the US will get hit with an additional 5% payroll tax to cover plastic surgery for blacks so they can look more attractive.

    But by then, all the doctors will be black affirmative action dimwits who will mess up the surgery and then blame whites………

    Oh, never mind…

  • NBJ

    Well, as a former hiring manager for a retail chain I suppose I was guilty of “lookism” myself. I remember once when hiring a bagger I was given 3 applications, and interviews to conduct. There was one black kid who came in with the typical pants hanging off his rear who mumbled his way through the interview, a white kid in a baseball cap (who didn’t bother to take it off) in faded jeans and t shirt who was there because his mom wanted him to get a job, and a third white kid who came in dressed in slacks, a button down shirt and tie, clean cut with perfect manners. Guess who got the job?

  • highduke

    Lookism? The ideology of ugly people. If this takes off then it will be a huge coalition of obese lazy Whites along with Black, Yellow & Brown people and it will benefit WNs because we can always claim discrimination on the basis of looks rather than race until it’s safer to be more direct. Am I kidding? I don’t know. But I do know that attractive people have it a lot easier in Modern society and that alone makes being of European descent an advantage.

  • mark

    I only have one question: Ugly or not ugly? Who will make the decision?

    As they used to say in Rome: “De gustibus non est disputandum”.

  • eugenicist

    I knew this was coming. Any bets on when “pulchritude privilege” conferences will become de rigeur at a university near you?

  • Jack

    ‘Logically there’s no less reason to protect the ugly than the disabled, African Americans, other racial minorities or religious minorities, as we do.”

    There is no reason for any of it, period.

    There is no less reason because the amount of reason behind it is 0.

  • john in germany

    Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.

  • oldfart

    I suppose it’s true enough that all other factors being equal, a good-looking candidate is most likely to get the job.

    But all other factors being equal, the smartest and most articulate candidate is also more likely to be hired.

    Of course, it’s rare that most factors are equal. All individuals are comprised of a nearly incalculable total of attributes, and these attributes are weighed and valued differently by all interviewers.

    One guy might value good looks above all else for a receptionist, another might value organization and a good phone presence. Another guy might hire someone because he’d learned that the candidate was a good golfer and he wanted someone to play golf with.

    The variations and how they affect hiring decisions are infinite.

  • Harumphty Dumpty

    Just one more thing to make the prettiest race of all feel guilty and paralyzed.

  • Anonymous

    Once again, preference is CONFUSED with prejudice. People generally PREFER attractive people. There is nothing wrong or sinister about that. Weather girls are pretty. The models on THE PRICE IS RIGHT are good-looking. This is all perfectly normal.

  • Anonymous

    Well, it’s why people choose to go places in the first place. People will always seek out beauty and they will pay for it, too. It is only logical that employers will pay for this to bring in revenue.

  • Anonymous

    My chinese supervisor says that in china you can place ads that specify you want someone tall and good looking. She also says her chinese relatives and friends are amazed that she got a promotion after age 35.

  • Stephen

    Next we talk about discrimination against stupid people. Studies confirm that people are less likely to be chosen for high paying jobs like doctors and airline pilots if they are stupid.

  • The Bobster

    Ok Hollywood – what’s your excuse for being so insensitive, so intolerant, so uninclusive?!?!


    Are you kidding? Compare today’s actors to those of yesteryear. There has definitely been AA in favor of ugly actors with coarse features in recent years. I suspect it has something to do with their ethnic ties.

    BTW, I’ve been a victim of lookism. Many times I’ve walked into an HR office to be instantly rejected because I’m the All American type.

  • ghw

    This is all part of the same general campaign to level everybody and make everyone “equal”. If they are not equal, we have to MAKE them be!

    It started back with John Lennon and Yoko Ono and the hippies, if not before. Remember that unattractive couple with their plain steel-rimmed glasses and nude photos? Their bearded gurus and maharishees? Plain and homely was the rage. Ugly was even better. (Remember Angela Davis, huge afros, and “black is beautiful”? ) Then came dreadlocks and pickaninny spikes. It was a rejection of fashion, elegance, taste, beauty — of everything considered elitist. One could really say of everything considered white. The mud was raised above the fish. And the fish were taught to feel ashamed.

    In the same way, intelligence and talent have since been downplayed consistently in favor of the retarded and subnormal. We must raise up the “disadvantaged” while we ignore the gifted. If you’re of low IQ, it must be somebody’s fault; and we mustn’t discuss such things anyway. If these Marxist levelers get their way, eventually it will be a legal offence to be beautiful or intelligent. (How dare you!) Everybody will be forced to fit into the same Bed of Procrustes in which we are all equally homely and dull. That way, nobody will feel left out or awkward.

    What a wonderful “brave new world” they are making! Fat, ugly, stupid will be the new ideals. Everything will be turned upside-down.

    I wonder what other cultures think of us? They must be laughing hysterically as they watch us self-destruct. The white world has gone mad in an orgy of ‘Critical Theory’ and self-loathing. [Thank you, Max Horkheimer, H.Marcuse, et al.]

  • Anonymous

    “Ok Hollywood – what’s your excuse for being so insensitive, so intolerant, so uninclusive?!?!”


    Are you kidding? Compare today’s actors to those of yesteryear. There has definitely been AA in favor of ugly actors with coarse features in recent years. I suspect it has something to do with their ethnic ties. (Bobster)


    Right you are. Compare Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, or Beyonce with the classic American features of a Katherine Hepburn. Although the features of the former three do get a little lighter and more refined with every year, and their tresses a little blonder, the mongrel background still shows through.

    With the new male “stars”, there is less care about their looks. Vin Diesel, for instance. Coarseness has become commonplace. No more Tyrone Power, Erroll Flynn or Victor Mature. (Those pretty boys were just too damn white.)

  • down the bayou

    this is rediculous. for all time, people and animals have preferred themselves and their own groups of similar individuals. now this article wants to make it sound scary~”may be expressing belief that their group is better than others”. as if they should not! that is the very mental mechanism that allowss life to continue on this planet at all! these politics of anti racism and anti lookism are making me sick to my stomach.

  • diversity equals adversity

    I agree with ghw. Why is our culture so insane? A culture comes from people. A culture is a way of behaving and etiquette, a manner of speaking and language, and other arts like music and singing and dancing; and a method of cooking food and what sorts of foods are cooked. Pop culture now is all about fairness and equality, and conformity to nonconformity, and self hate.

  • Spirit Wolf

    But aren’t good looks in the eye of the beholder? How many men cringe at their girlfriend’s thinking that Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Severus Snape is dead sexy? (hint, guys, it’s Rickman’s voice, mainly. It is for me, anyway.)

    What about the stereotype of the pretty girl dating the ugly gorilla? Perhaps she sees something the gorilla has that no one else around him does? (and yeah, it could just be money. Why not, if it works for both of them?)

    Ugly to one person is a beauty queen to another. If looks went by one standard, then warthogs would be extinct .. but obviously they find each other attractive.

    Witness the _true_ “Miss Universe” contest in Futurama. A giant alien parameceum won. Good for her.