Monthly Archives: May 2009

Broken Mirrors

Part 1 of Chapter 9 in the book Looks

In this chapter, Dr. Patzer talks about the dark side of physical attractiveness. He tells us facts about anorexia, bulimia, and other unhealthy behavior that may occur.

Deleese Williams

Deleese Williams

The chapter starts with talking about a woman named Deleese Williams. He describes her like this.

Her jaw was deformed, crooked teeth crowded her mouth, her eyes drooped, and her breasts were hard to find.

She had a childhood of endless horror. Her classmates made fun of her. Her marriage was a disaster, with her husband abusing her and letting her know constantly that she wasn’t much to look at. 

Williams had hope when she heard about Extreme Makeover. This was a reality program that gave ugly people like Williams the gift of beauty. People enjoyed watching that show, for whatever reasons. Anyway, she applied to the show in 2003. The producers were delighted. Soon, Williams was meeting with the executives and team. Describing it, she said that the psychologist and the physicians told her that she “needed” her eyes lifted, her ears pulled back, and breast implants as well as chin implants. They also concluded that dental surgery was needed. They promised her that the free makeover would “transform her life and destiny.”

250px-XtrememakeoverHowever, the producers wanted to let the audiences see how being ugly is so very problematic. Beauty is good, and its absence is bad, after all. Remember our first post? They sat Williams in front of a camera and had her describe how being ugly had invited the cruel teasing and abuse by her husband. Even though her family didn’t notice (or pretended not to notice) her ugliness, they were coached to focus on her flaws.

Kellie McGee, Williams’s sister, was reluctant to trash her sister. The producers essentially forced her to do so, however. 

It was tough for Deleese to take. She thought it would be all worth it. Williams believed that her real life could begin at last… happy endings.

Then the bomb fell.

A producer told her that the makover, cosmetic surgery… all off. Why? It didn’t fit in the show’s time frame. The doctors told her that the recovery time and surgery would take a much longer time than the duration of the show.

The tragic part, says her attorney, was that she became too ashamed to go out in public. Even worse, her sister, who had been forced to speak disparagingly about Williams’s looks, killed herself. She had beens struggling with bipolar disorder for some time.

ABC and Disney offered their condolences, yet said that they bore no responsibility since Deleese had known that they could call the whole thing off at any time.

empty-plateBeyond this example, physical appeal centered media messages continues to encourage unhealthy conditions on millions.

Eating disorders have become common in America. This is accompanied by a preoccupation with food and weight, and those with an ED often share physical symptoms with those who have experienced starvation. This is also marked by an obsession with food.

In 2003, a team led by Dr. Hans Steiner of Stanford University learned that mothers with eating disorders demonstrated greater concern over their children’s eating habits. By the time the children were age 5, they displayed the same symptoms found in teenagers with eating disorders. He was surprised to learn that half of the children of elementary age wanted to weight less. Three-fourths cited their family as the primary source of dieting related information.

There are three distinct types of eating disorders, not counting EDNOS.

1. Binge eating

2. Bulimia Nervosa

3. Anorexia Nervosa

3092_MEDIUMBinge eating is uncontrolled eating. It’s frequent, and very common. It’s accompanied by the feeling of being out of control. People who binge eat often feel depressed, guilty, or disgusted when they do so. 

I know a few girls who have problems with binge eating. In fact, I know a lot. However, in their case, the binge is followed by a purge. This brings us to bulimia nervosa.

The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine has described this condition as a serious, life-threatening eating disorder affecting mainly young women. They eat large amounts of food, then try to lose all the calories by fasting, exercising, or vomiting or using laxatives. This is known as “purging.” At first, it was hailed as a new weight loss trick. The women could eat whatever they want, and then throw it up later. They’re not gaining any calories, and they still get the cravings down, right?

Wrong. This is an extremely unhealthy practice. It’s even considered a psychiatric illness. 

248012174_7b1ca0a9aaOver 2 million people suffer from this. In rare instances, bingeing can cause the stomach to burst. Purging brings heart failure from loss of vital minerals. Vomiting leads to acid-related scarring of the fingers (once I saw a site where a girl, knowing this, encouraged her friends to vomit using the end of a toothbrush instead of their fingers). The esophagus becomes inflamed from acid burns. There’s also irregular menstruation, to name only a few.

Few are able to stop this behavior without professional help. It seems to me that they have really lost control. 90% are women in their teens or early 20s. Many live secret lives in that they appear to be doing well on the outside, but run off after meals to purge in their bathrooms.

The root causes remain mysterious. Maybe it could be genetic and environmental. It could be due to family pressures, like in the case of one girl I know. Girls with eating disorders often have fathers, mothers, brothers, or boyfriends who criticize their weight. 

I do know some people who are bulimics but starve themselves for periods. This brings us to anorexia nervosa, a still more dangerous condition. 

367429618_9d69054abcAnorexia nervosa is self-induced starvation. The person with it refuses to eat. Even though she’s becoming thinner and thinner, she still sees herself as far too heavy. A few starve themselves to death, but most have life-shortening health disorders from lack of nutrients.

This disorder brings the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric illness. 6% to 10% die. That’s a higher rate than for cancer. It’s the most challenging disorder to treat, as it involves dealing with the physical and emotional issues as well as with body image distortion. 

Dr. Joel Jahraus, a nationally known expert on eating disorders, talked about one of his patients. Her name was Anna Westin, and he described her as a lovely young woman. However, she struggled with anorexia nervosa. Her body weight was dangerously low, and her moods changed fast. Dr. Jahraus, seeing this, recommended hospitalization.

Anna Westin

Anna Westin

However, the insurance company didn’t want that. They said that she wasn’t ill enough to get hospitalized. For a brief time, though, they agreed. She was stabilized with IV nutrition and psychological work. After that, the company declared that she should be treated as an outpatient. When Anna found out, she lost  motivation to continue treatment. “I can’t be that bad,” she said.

A few weeks later, Anna intentionally took her own life by swallowing an overdose of diet pills.

Her parents established the Anna Westin Foundation, which was dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and raising public awareness to the cause. This included the Anna Westin House, which combines treatment with cost-effective care. Maybe it’s something you should look into.

I  have also seen many sites raised to help those struggling with eating disorders. No, it’s not what you think. These sites offer tips (links not for the faint-hearted) on how to purge without parents and friends finding out. There’s lots of tips on how to disguise that you’re starving yourself, with pictures of bony celebrities as inspiration to starve. Many of these girls, looking for acceptance, turn to these sites to find it. At least they’ll find someone who understands what they’re going through, they think. They’re encouraged by words like, “Stay strong! Starve on!” Sometimes these words are what keeps them going when they’re discouraged. After a while, they start believing that they are not ill. No, it’s a lifestyle choice.

WOODENSCALEPHOTOThe danger in real recovery is that if one of the girls (or guys) visit the sites, they’ll lose their resolve and continue with the “lifestyle.” Their friends will berate them for not being strong enough and not starving like they’re supposed to. I knew a girl who was the biggest tip giver for anorexics and bulimics. She got tons of comments and praise for her “smartness and courage.” And then all of a sudden, something happened. She decided that this wasn’t the way to go. She decided that this could not continue, and she better get healthy as opposed to skinny before she lost it all. 

She lost her audience. People didn’t say anything. They ignored her. For a person who had received upward of 50 comment per post, that was hard for her.

It’s so easy to shatter.

Just looking at the pictures of celebrities that these girls use to keep them starving, don’t tell me that the media has no hand in it. I remember when one of the celebrities (forgot her name) was said to have an eating disorder. There was buzz, and many of my friends praised her as an inspiration and a strong woman for trying to starve herself to perfection.

I felt nauseated.

We shouldn’t be focused on our own bodies when we have this in the world. We shouldn’t be pushing ourselves to starve to skeletons when there actually are children in Africa who have no choice but to starve every single day of their lives. 26,000 children perish every day due to preventable causes: poverty, disease, and hunger. 

Maybe the problem is that we’re too used to looking at ourselves instead of others. We gaze at ourselves in the mirror, and we fail to see the crisis happening around us.

A starving child in Uganda

A starving child in Uganda

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Pretty People over Important News

Part 3 (i think?) of Chapter 8 of the book Looks

The influence on views of physical attractiveness is by no means limited to advertising. TV has idealized images of manhood and womanhood, both in entertainment and in the news. 

TV as a mass medium was demonstrated in 1939. By 1945, it was publicly available. Like magazines, it used pretty young females to attract its viewers. They announced commercial breaks or delivered program information. Or they were simply ornaments that silently showed off products in game shows, much like today. Women were presented as glamourous objects.

Things haven’t changed much.

Days Of Our Lives: A popular daytime soap

Days Of Our Lives: A popular daytime soap

Every station’s schedule has feature films, TV movies, hour-long dramas, sitcoms, and reality TV. All of these feature beautiful actresses and handsome actors. The less attractive are delegated to supporting roles, like the bad guy. Only 12% are overweight.

Speaking of weight, that is the thing that is most noticeable in a TV performer. It’s extraordinary to have overweight actors or actresses. Dr. Gregory Touts, a professor of psychology, studies TV and its effects on us. He examined body weights for 37 central female characters, negative comments from males about their weights and bodies, and audience reactions. He found that thin people were overrepresented. The heavier female had more negative comments said about her or to her. This was also associated with the audience reactions or laughter. In earlier research, Fouts and a colleague found that the thinner the woman, the more positive comments she received.

Cast of As the World Turns, another popular soap

Cast of As the World Turns, another popular soap

What about men? Fouts did the same evaluations. He heard negative references like “You’re too fat to wear that in public,” as well as comments by the overweight character himself. “I need to diet.” He found that overweight males are under represented in sitcoms. It’s more acceptable, however, for men than women to be overweight on entertainment TV.

Regarding laughter, while most sitcoms are shot before a live audience, this audience is prepped by personnel. They’re encouraged to laugh at every punch line and cued to applaud on command. So what Fouts and his colleagues heard were not faithful expressions of how people really saw the show, but rather what the show’s producers wanted them to hear.

fox_newsWhat about TV news? You probably might have noticed that these men and women are garbed perfectly, with perfect makeup, teeth, and hair. They’re also trim, not fat, and good-looking on the whole. I also noticed that in Fox news, most of the females are blonde and blue-eyed, with fair skin.

Not only that, screen time is used to emphasize stories about attractive people.

Crime stories are always a big thing. Every year, people disappear, are murdered, or are raped. However, few of these stories can be mentioned on TV. 

pl_jonbenet_060817_ssv

JonBenet Ramsey

Consider the case of JonBenet Ramsey. She was a six year old who was entered in many beauty contests. She was exceptionally pretty. JonBenet was photographed and videotaped many times in high heels, adult makeup, and professionally styled hair.

She was murdered in 1996.

The media went nuts.

JonBenet

JonBenet

The crime was never solved, but even after 10 years, images of this first grader are still shown on TV. 

In December 2002, lovely Laci Peterson went missing. The story led broadcasts for days and days. This became a national event. Even I remember the headlines that continued months and months after the actual event. Magazines, gossip columns, and TV all talked about it. Her husband, a fertilizer salesman, was arrested and tried for her murder.

Jennifer Wilbanks

Jennifer Wilbanks

In April 2005, Jennifer Wilbanks was a runaway bride. She spun a wild tale of kidnapping and sexual assault. It was all untrue. She just had the jitters. This story was repeated for weeks and weeks. Why?

She was tall, thin, but curvy. She had big eyes and full lips. A lot of people thought that she was hot. I don’t.

Dozens of people disappear all the time. How many women are murdered every day? How many first graders are murdered or disappear? These cases all had one thing in common – the females were all beautiful.

Trond Andresen of the Norwegian Institute of Technology thinks it’s time for a change. He told a local newspaper in Norway that “journalists, photographers, and TV producers discriminate against the ugly and emphasize beautiful people whenever possible.”

Ugly people should be spotlighted in the media in the same way that the media wishes to emphasize persons from ethnic minorities.”

LACI

Laci Peterson

So what’s the harm in showing viewers attractive people?

First of all, when magazines or newspapers sell more advertising than expected, they can add pages with more editorial content and articles to balance this out. However, time is limited on TV. There’s no way to balance this out in TV news. There simply isn’t enough time. Even big programmers like CNN have to limit their news programming to about an hour a day.

It seems, says Dr. Patzer, that media companies are licensed to serve the public. However, what’s important is that their primary role is to choose what stories to tell, which not to air, which to follow up, and which to ignore. Nowadays, with the decrease in TV news viewership, news is regarded as being no different from entertainment. It has to earn its own way. Decisions are made by considering which stories would attract more viewers.

They are choosing now to air stories about people such as JonBenet, Laci Peterson, as well as celebrities like Paris Hilton. Meanwhile, important news are being ignored. Dr. Patzer had a list of important news that they skipped in favor of these stories.

crbs0691455From a journalist’s point of view, the role of news programs is to inform the public about what’s going on in the world around them, instead of running repetitive stories about attractive people. This is a shameful use of network time. Dr. Patzer agrees, saying that a democracy functions because when something goes wrong, the press brings it to the public’s attention so they can correct this problem at the ballot box.

Do TV news executives believe that audiences prefer watching good-looking people to learning important facts?

Les Moonves

Les Moonves

As it turns out, Les Moonves, the president and CEO of CBS, made it clear that he makes no distinction between news and entertainment programs. He told a New York Times reporter that if hiring an attractive woman to read the news while stripping would increase news viewership, he’d do it. Gladly. Because “his job is to give audiences what they want.”

The problem with this reasoning is that perhaps the audience doesn’t always know what they want. Instead, a lot of us might be waiting for the media to tell us what we want, and we’ll go along with it.

The Dove Campaign

Part 3 of Chapter 8 of the book Looks

Gisele Bundchen, a popular model of today

Gisele Bundchen, a popular model of today

I’m sure that a lot of you are familiar with Dove’s ad campaigns. Their ads speak of broadening the definition of beauty. Their ads have caused quite a sensation because of this. The pretty, underwear clad women have appeared on billboards across the county– and they’re much heavier than Gisele Bundchen. Their naked older ladies have appeared in magazines. How did this come about?

Dove wanted to explore empirically what beauty means to women to today, and why. They also wanted to look at the more authentic, satisfying, and empowering ways to think and talk about feminine beauty. 

Dove’s study, “The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report,” was published in September 2004. 3200 women, ages 18-64, from 10 countries, were interviewed. The study, which you can read by clicking the link, concluded that while most women are not lost in despair and self-hatred because of their looks, few women feel the “power and  pride of beauty.” Only 2% claimed to be beautiful. That’s only 64 out of 3200 women.

A popular ad for Dove

A popular ad for Dove

This study showed that women are less satisfied with their beauty than with almost every other dimension of life (social skills, honesty, kindness). The study calls the women of today to reject the images of manufactured femininity as too narrow, inauthentic, and not enough. Manufactured femininity being the ideal: tall, thin, with blonde haire, fair skin, and blue eyes. (Sort of like Gisele Bundchen?) Three-fourths of those surveyed revealed that they wanted to see women with different shapes, sizes, and a varying range of ages. More variety, in short.

Dr. Susie Orbach stated that while these women believed that physical appeal was important (or even crucial), conforming to the media’s definition of real beauty should make them resort to extremities like cosmetic surgery. 

Dr. Patzer agrees that the media could broaden their definition of beauty. However, he reminds us that beauty’s less visual qualities are rather difficult to portray on a magazine spread, or a TV ad.

While these models are not ideal, they still have beautiful hair, features, and clear skin. That old lady up there has clearer skin than my grandmother. And nicer hair, too.

Perfume and Acne Concealer

Part 2 of Chapter 8 in the book Looks

britney-spears-

Britney Spears

How about women of color? 

The ideal of feminine beauty on TV is being blue-eyed and thin. Dr. Carolyn Stroman says that an overwhelming number of models are white. A small number are black, and almost none are Asian. How does this make African American women feel, knowing that they can never look like Britney Spears? 

I remember the L’oreal scandal. People were saying that L’Oreal photoshopped Beyonce to make her whiter and thus more like the ideal.

However, L’Oreal maintained there has been no lightening of the singer’s complexion in the ads.

“We highly value our relationship with Ms Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L’Oreal Paris altered Ms Knowles’ features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color,” the company said in a statement.

Beyonce: lightened or not?

Beyonce: lightened or not?

Researcher Karen Perkins says that these African American women “are immediately excluded from what is considered to be ‘beautiful.'” Her studies show that these women have been affected by this standard. Many of them have warped feelings about beauty and their physical attractiveness. A study of 66 college-aged black women found that 76% wanted a lighter skin color.

Perkins suggests that parents of young black girls sit down and discuss media messages with their children after watching TV. Dr. Patzer commends this advice, and emphasizes that this is good advice for ALL parents, and not just parents of black girls or women of color. I agree.

 

Beautiful models are used to advertise enhancing products, like this expensive ring.

Beautiful models are used to advertise enhancing products, like this expensive ring.

Two professors, Martin and Gentry (I don’t remember their first names), did a complex study to see what happens when both adolescents and younger girls are exposed to beautiful women in ads. They had two products, an enhancing product and a problem solving product. Martin and Gentry wanted to find out whether a beautiful model really affects how a product is sold in advertising. It’s kind of a bit complicated to say here, but what they found suggests that there may be a link with beliefs about a model’s expertise with a particular problem — i.e., a problem solving product like detergent, or acne concealer. Also, impressions they had of beauty had little relation to how much they trusted the model. Meanwhile, beautiful models were useful with enhancing products like lipstick or earrings. 

 

NM-20MK_mtThese two professors did a second study to validate the results of the first study. The enhancing product this time was perfume. The problem-solving product they used was dandruff shampoo. For some reason, although the average looking model was perceived as having a more normal life than the attractive one, the highly attractive model was perceived as more trustworthy. Maybe because people think that an attractive person acts because he/she wants to, whereas the unattractive is seen as more easily coerced and manipulated? Who knows?

blackopal4

Acne concealer

The researchers then concluded that while very attractive models are effective in selling selling products like perfume or jewelry, they were no better than the average looking model when it came to selling products like acne concealer or dandruff shampoo. Marketers need to consider the type of product carefully when selecting their models. They also concluded, unsurprisingly, that more research was needed.

Another study was done by Hilda Dittmar and Sarah Howard of the University of Sussex. They wanted to refute a claim by Premier Model Management which stated that “if you stick a beautiful skinny girl on the cover of a magazine you sell more copies.”

So the two women recruited 75 women from a fashion advertising company and 75 secondary school teachers. Within each group, one-third was shown images of thin models, another one-third was shown images of average size models, and the last third was the control and shown ads without models.

The study was quite interesting, but I can’t relate it in much detail. It involved photoshop and body manipulation, which is stretching out a thin model’s body to make her appear average size. Several conclusions were drawn.

First, the ads with attractive but average size models were seen to be equally persuasive as the ads with the skinny models. This was the same for the teachers and the fashion advertising workers.

Second, although the ladies in advertising were slightly more critical of ads, this had no linkage to the models’ sizes. Maybe it had something to do with the ladies’ jobs.

51JW8PZWG0L._AA280_Next, only the women who believed in the ideal “thin” body felt anxious at seeing the images. It’s what you might expect. They felt less anxiety after seeing the average size models.

Another thing. The anxiety effect was far more extreme in teachers than in advertising workers. Maybe it’s because they’re immune to a certain extent after working in the advertising business for so long. But still, there was anxiety, though to a lesser extent. The advertising workers felt no anxiety at seeing the average sized models.

These researchers concluded that it’s the thinness of models and not their attractiveness that makes people worry.

Dr. Patzer states that these are not the only studies, and that other researchers suspect that many women now resent ads that insist on promoting unattainable beauty, as well as the media and advertisers.

Reaching the Unattainable

Chapter 8, Part I

Now we come to one of the biggest chapters in the book Looks. This chapter is about how the media messages shape our thoughts and feelings about physical attractiveness.

We’re exposed to so much media nowadays. Magazine titles,  books, websites, and TV are all saturated with pictures of the physically attractive. Everyone’s beautiful in the world of media, it seems.

Does this influence our expectations and self-respect? This phenomenon has been studied for years and years. 

ariel-fish-friendsResearchers found the most body-image related messages in videos like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid. However, all ages get information about the world from TV. IF there’s one rule governing media images, it’s that sex sells. 

Advertising knows this. They’re all aware that sexual images are important messages. Others are concerned that these images place inappropriate pressure on us to focus on our appearances. Teen People magazine found that 27% of girls felt pressured to have a perfect body. Whatever that means. Older women, who had formerly felt guilty about having a dirty house, were now afraid of being old or unattractive.

Other research suggests that such advertising can affect women’s body image, which in turn can lead to unhealthy behavior.

Superman: Bulging out from Everywhere

Superman: Bulging out from Everywhere

Advertising also promotes and idealizes the body builder image. This is leading to some very insecure men and boys. A study by Dr. Harrison Pope of McLean suggests that this pressure is felt early in childhood. There’s the increasing muscularity of action figures that boys play with. This can be compared to Barbie dolls promoting an unrealistically thin body image for young girls. You’ll noticed that Superman is muscled more than any person should be muscled. He’s more muscled than the guy who goes to the gym once every couple of days. He’s more muscled than, well, almost anyone. He’s unnecessarily muscled. Noticed that he’s bulging in places where no one knew they had muscles. 

He looks like he’s been drinking a cup of steroids after every meal.

Various media reports to the state that eating disorder cases involving boys are growing. However, boys are usually unwilling to acknowledge a condition that is associated with females. My friend Henry that I mentioned previously was anorexic.

Sex sells. Britney Spears

Sex sells. Britney Spears

However, most media stressing thinness are directed at women. Women see 400-600 commercials per day. 250,000 commercial messages as well… but only 9% are a direct statement about beauty. The messages are more implicit in nature rather than explicit. Half of the ads in teen girl magazines like Seventeen and 56% of TV commercials aimed at females used beauty as a product appeal. This may give girls and women reason to be self-conscious, and even equates physical appeal as measure of worth.

A photograph of the beautiful Evelyn Nesbit

A photograph of the beautiful Evelyn Nesbit

In the late 1890s, publishers started using pictures of beautiful women to sell magazines. It began with illustrations, Take Charles Dana Gibson’s 1905 portraits of the lovely Evelyn Nesbit. She was a 16 year old married to one of the richest men in the world. Sadly, she was destined for heartbreak and poverty. During this time, though, she was called the most beautiful woman in the world. 

nesbit-2.1208806562

Another picture of Nesbit

I read her wikipedia entry. She was involved in the murder of an ex lover by her first husband. Earlier on, she found work as an artists’ model. Later on, she became much in demand because she was seductively beautiful, with red hair and a slender but shapely figure. Her first lover, the one who got murdered, was Stanford White. He was an acclaimed architect and notorious womanizer, and at the time he was 47 to her 16. 

biancagomez

A typical runway model

Color photography arrived in the 1930s. Ordinary could not be used for this. There were some issues with cramming a 3D image into a 2D space. Because it omits the impression of depth, it adds the illusion of increased width. Solution? Choose a thinner model. She’s look average. However, thinness became the standard, not only because of the photography issues. Clothes look better on thinner people. So models became thinner and thinner and thinner. The so-called supermodel is slimmer than 94% of women in her age group! 

Two-thirds of girls in one study said that magazine models influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.

Why do advertisers present such unrealistically thin women to advertise products?

Some believe that advertisers use thin models to create an unattainable goal. Trying to realize the impossible drives our consumption of that product. “The media markets desire,” says Dr. Paul Hamburg, a psychiatrist.

lettuceWhether or not that is true, it’s found that the diet industry generates 74 billion – 50 billion DOLLARS a year. Women compare their bodies to those around them. a 1984 poll by Glamour found that three-fourths of those surveyed thought they were too fat. This brings to mind my friend who always wants to lose weight, even though she is really skinny. I’m a 4 foot 8 girl, and naturally I’m very very skinny. (It goes with my frame.) She told me once that she wanted to be as skinny as I was. I was disturbed.

iStock_apple tape measureCindy Maynard, a registered dietitian and researcher, says that this dissatisfaction occurs so much that it’s almost considered normal. She goes on to say that the most vulnerable people are teenagers, since they are at the age when they’re developing their self-confidence and self-perception. At that age there’s a lot of pressure to fit in.

Sadly, one of the ways to fit in is to have the perfect body.

Spilled Pencils

Chapter 5, Part 2 of the book Looks

Studies show that physical attractive get better paying jobs in  higher positions than the less attractive. 

Whoa. How much more? Patzer cites a whole list of studies conducted in various countries that suggest that earnings are 7.5% to 15% more than the average looking.

This brings us to some questions. Is this discriminating against those physically attractively impaired? (Ok, that was a funny sentence.) Does hiring the good looking  hunk shell out the big bucks and increase productivity?

secretary

Secretary Barbie... probably 50 years ago

Various universities has analyzed this. With the assumption that all else is equal, in an industry with much interaction with clients, the firms with more attractive workers have a competitive advantage. 

Does beauty really bring success? What if success attracts beauty and not the other way around? Gerard A. Pfann, a researcher, found no evidence that success attracted beauty. Successful firms did not attract the better-looking to them. 

Pfann and his colleagues found that in Holland, the most successful firms employed managers whose beauty was greater than that of 90 out of 100 of Dutch ad executives. 

A 1999 study by Sara J. Solnick of the University of Miami and Maurice E. Schweitzer of the University of Pennsylvania found that those with physical attractiveness tend to have an advantage in bargaining situations. Business has a lot to do with bargaining. The good looking, this means, can bring their companies more for less. The message to businesses is clear. Don’t send an unattractive woman to negotiate on behalf of the firm, because she will not drive as hard a bargain as a more attractive woman or almost any man.

CSL2067Interestingly enough, those with much physical appeal suffer more than their less attractive coworkers when the boss is angry or upset. Professors and students at North Central College observed that attractive females are punished more harshly. Attractive males are punished the least. For the unattractive, gender made no difference. Maybe businesses have a love-hate relationship with beauty. Maybe the boss has ideas of fairness, or envy may cause ill will to smolder. In other words, this could be a backhanded recognition that physical attractiveness opens doors that remain closed to the average, less attractive person.

IS320-098Another study was done by a professor and a doctoral student at Hofstra University. They gave bank supervisors a memo describing a problem with a male or female employee portrayed as attractive, unattractive, or average. They asked the bank supervisor to assist them in disciplining this person. They found that some attractive people are viewed as failing because of a lack of effort, while the unattractive are seen as victims of bad luck.

Something to think about the next time you apply for a job, or find yourself interviewing someone for a job.

Yearning to be Prettee

There are several motivations that cause you to pursue cosmetic surgery.

First is genetics. You may have inherited your mom’s nose and dislike it. If you’re Asian, you might have a bra size that is much less than desired. 

Aging is next. Wrinkles! No! Parenthesis have a place, but not on your face! Not on mine!

Also sun damage. I know that that tanning bed couldn’t have been good for me. Or being at the beach constantly, trying to make my skin all of one color. Leathery skin? Age spots? Bah.

There’s also post-traumatic injuries and scarring. Maybe the time that the lamp fell on your head. Or the time that you fell down the stairs. Many cosmetic surgeons have remedies for scarring. I was offered this option after my surgeries (which left unsightly scars), but refused it because who knows what else could happen.

Some physical conditions, like losing a lot of weight.

cigarette_buttSmoking induces premature aging. Smoking makes you older, faster. Don’t smoke, kids. 

But why might you want a change?

You might be career minded. It’s a fact that many companies like to choose attractive people for jobs with better pay. Also, getting better “equipment” can get you ahead at work. (Just click the link to find out how.)

Or you might look old, but feel young. Cosmetic surgery can be a way to reconcile this, so that you look young and feel young. Unless you do want to look old and feel old…

Fitting in: Ok, I think this is the worst reason, ever. Today’s cultural ideal (models) are really skinny. You can’t get that skinny without some unhealthy habits. What a lot of people don’t know is that these models turn to things like smoking or starving to keep their natural weight off. If your friends expect you to be skinny before you can hang out with them, then they’re not good friends. Or if they expect you to have the perfect body.

Helping  your child is another reason. Please! Help! My child’s ears stick out! Permanent social consequences will ensue! At least they draw the line to when a 16 year old wants bigger bazooms.

Life changes: This may be a way to cope. “I got divorced, so I’m going to get breast augmentation to make myself feel better.” Something like that… Hilary Swank did it after all.

After childbirth. *sigh* 

Today’s fashions emphasize breasts and tummies, and if your breasts are saggy and your tummy skin is wrinkled, then you may want to do something about it.

I can’t wait from the day when fingers are emphasized.

rosepetalsIf you have excess fat and skin: Well, ok, this is a good idea. Localized fat deposits may require liposuction. It can help restore your self-esteem and sexiness. Getting a procedure might help you feel better about yourself and bring the romance back in the relationship. I have no argument against this type of surgery, actually. There was this guy who was really morbidly obese. He was on Oprah’s talk show. Anyway, he decided that he should have a change for the better. He lost all the weight, but there was all this loose skin and some fat flapping around. He ended up having surgery, and he looked amazing. It really helped him out there.

The writer’s have several reasons why you should NOT do it. Don’t do it if you’re bored, or depressed, or think that you have a problem that no one else sees. (Sadly too many people do it for these reasons.) Or if you have an eating disorder. Or because you want to impress the hunk down the road. Such reasons are foolish and you could wake up one day and moan, “What possessed me to get a rhinoplasty?” Yes, what possessed you, indeed. Maybe it was the gods of Nicole Richie or some other. If you have an eating disorder, surgery could be quite dangerous. In that case, the surgeon will have to see approval from your psychiatrist. 

95_cash_1You also need to have lots of moolah. In one of my other blogs, I wrote about the costs of breast enlargements. Big bucks. You also need to be prepared for a worst-case scenario, because it CAN happen. 

And you just might not like yourself after surgery.

That would put a wrench in it, wouldn’t it?