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Do you think people who are tall, slender and attractive earn more money?

Asked at Hastings, 1900 W. 23rd St., and on Massachusetts Street on April 8, 2005

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Photo of Amanda Dickerman

“I think so, because the world is a sex-driven place. If two people are equally qualified, the more attractive one will usually get the job.”

Photo of Geoff Oehlert

“No. I don’t think so. Most Americans are overweight anyway, and plenty of ugly people are making plenty of money.”

Photo of Chris Kemp

“In some ways it does. Some people just seem to hire more physically appealing people.”

Photo of Liz Linderer

“I could see how that might unconsciously affect someone getting hired or earning a larger salary.”


Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago

Honestly...I'm tall, slender and I think I'm not ass-ugly by any means.

But my $32,000 teacher salary is probably significantly lower than most 25-year olds with 2 master's degrees, a bachelor's degrees, and certification in two separate academic areas including special education.

Crumbs, I'm UNDERPAID.

But, having said all that...I do have an absolutely beautiful and most amazing woman in my life.

Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago

True, true...

...but I just had to indicate in my profession, my salary is determined upon salary schedules, not our looks.

I have a pretty strong feeling, though no evidence to support at all, that in the private industry...this discrimination favors attractive, in-shape individuals without a doubt.

lunacydetector 13 years, 2 months ago

when do you teach? it seems you post on here throughout the day :)

but the bond passed, so this means pay increases for all teachers, right? i doubt it.

lunacydetector 13 years, 2 months ago

if tall drinks of water get paid more, why isn't my wife a millionaire?

Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago

lunacy--LOL, I was wondering when somebody was going to ask why I post so much when i teach.

I teach a self-contained spec. educ. reading & math class and have a few paras in the classroom with me. I have a computer in arm's I tend to over-post most likely.

It's addicting, there are so many interesting comments people make, I can't help but read and participate when I can.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

The question today shouldn't have been "Do you think people. . . " as much as "Are you aware that. . . ." Con1, the studies you mention have been repeated (I don't know about peer review, r_u, but I could try to find out). It's not, on average, a great difference. But a difference exists.

LD, the bonds were for a new South Jr. High building and "classroom and communications upgrades". Teachers get paid on a schedule that doesn't change whether they are brilliant or ineffective (and I've seen both).

btw, bthom37, that was some high school you attended! Were you actually from RI? They seem to recruit from a broad geographic area.

Jayhawk226, I agree: this is addicting. No matter how much I have to get done, I always find myself drawn back to the screen. Even when I've sworn I was going to leave it alone!

one_more_bob, thanks! I after yesterday, I needed a good laugh.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

ms_canada: I posted a response to you at the end of yesterday's discussion.

bthom37 13 years, 2 months ago

Well, I've got the tall & slender part down ;)

Fangorn: My dad was actually in the Navy (originally from Clinton, out by the lake here, and he went to LHS and KU), and so we moved a fair bit. We just happened to be posted to RI for my high school years. I was a day student, not a boarder (thank the good lord for that!). As to recruitment; yeah, they go all over the place. Several South American and South Korean students a year, plus a couple Europeans too. My folks are still in RI; they like it. I'm not very fond of it; I only go back every other year.

I've actually made my home here, and in fact the 8 years I've lived here make this the longest I've ever lived in one place.

ms_canada 13 years, 2 months ago

Well, I don't know about earning more money, but I do think that attractive people have an advantage when it comes to being selected from a group for employment or position. But of course, this is not a hard and fast rule. I remember a study that was presented to us when I was studying psychology as part of my nurses training. It concerned, not so much employment, as the singling out of attractive people over unattractive in various situations such as kids choosing this one or that one to be on the team. Anyone who works with children will tell you of the cruelty of children in their selectivity and I believe that some of that attitude would carry over into adulthood. You think? Jayhawk226. Are all teachers salaries so low in KS? My daughter teaches and her salary is $51K and that is Can. $$. Mind you, she lives in a small city where you cannot buy a decent house for under $320,000 and a small 2bdrm house is $1000/mth. They have to pay more at the school to get teachers. fangorn, I left you a wee note on the tail of yesterday's line.

Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago


I work in the KCK district where teacher salaries are significantly lower than neighboring districts of nearby counties. If I were to transfer to the Blue Valley or Shawnee Mission districts, my salary would immediately rise from $32k to 37k.

Now, what really saddens me...if I were to move back to my homestate of Illinois, where teachers can strike and truly go through the collective bargaining salary in most districts would be over $52k right now. Cost-of-living is higher, but don't be fooled...housing costs are no lower in Johnson County, KS.

Regardless of how well teachers are paid in IL though, I'm pretty much at peace in Kansas City. I'll take a lower salary for peace-of-mind. At least until I have a family of my own.

remember_username 13 years, 2 months ago

I believe there are several studies that support this contention. In addition, I myself have found this to be true. I have had considerable experience in interviewing applicants for high tech positions. I have found myself to be guilty of favoritism to the attractive. I do everything I can to reverse it, and being conscience of this very Human fault hope I successfully correct for my bias. In our defense I believe this is a deeply ingrained behavior and part of being Human. However, as intellegent creatures we can correct for bias once aware of it.

ms_canada 13 years, 2 months ago

J226 - it is certainly true, money isn't everything. Quality of life rates higher. I have never been to Ks. Have visited Neb. and Iowa with my parents a number of years back as my father wanted to revisit Norwalk, Iowa where he was born. These are prairie states, right? Something like where I live in Alberta. This is grain growing farm country here with two large cities, Edmonton and Calgary. Ed. now has 600,00+ citizens. How large is KC?

Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago

I have been told the greater metropolitan area of KC is about 1.5 million people large. Perhaps a KC native can provide correct information if that is wrong.

Sunlover 13 years, 2 months ago

I dont know about "tall", considering I'm only 5', but I do think being attractive/thin does play a part. However, I do not think beauty alone will get you the better job or better pay. I think you also have to have the brains/qualifications. I personally look at the qualifications and experience when hiring.

jonas 13 years, 2 months ago

Jayhawk 226: I have heard from knowledgeable sources that in Japan, where I plan on moving in 3 years, they pay their teachers, at least their english teachers, in the range of 30-40 dollars an hour, depending on the program you get set up with. They also pay, on average, for at least half, if not all of your apartment expense. Everythings still more expensive over there, but my friend still saved up, without being careful in his finances at all, over 10k the first year he was out there. With any master degree, you would be qualified to teach at college level, too.

As far as the question, I don't know. I suppose it probably helps, but, although I would describe myself as tall, pretty fit, and decently attractive, I don't make squat. Of course, I just drive a city transit bus while I'm still in school, so that probably has more to do with it that anything else.

Ember 13 years, 2 months ago

For even halfway decent proof that this exists, look at the majority, say 99.9%, of all Hollywood films and all network television programming.

Rarely do you find skinny guys with no muscle tone and women that look like basketballs with hair. On average, I'd wager that the men are anywhere from 170-210, with 15% or less body fat. The women are frequently quite sleek fleshed, except in the breast, which is roughly a higher ended 'C' cup, if not 'D' more often than not.

The exceptions to this guideline would be the men who might not be physically imposing, but are shocking charismatic, and for the women, Kirstie Alley, Rosanne, and a small scattering along those lines.

It's hammered into our brains so much that it is not suprising in the least that it flows out into the real world.

Jayhawk226 13 years, 2 months ago

jonas--i have heard Japan is a popular option for some recent college graduates. If I weren't so in love with American sports, I would probably be interested--heck, it'd be great to see a whole different culture and way-of-life. thanks for the news jonas!

bthom37 13 years, 2 months ago

It is always tempting to impute/ unlikely virtues to the cute

captain_poindexter 13 years, 2 months ago

true about japan, I've heard similar stories consumer1.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

According to the 2000 census, the Kansas City metro area (defined as four counties in Kansas and 11 in Missouri) had a population of 1,776,062. Looking just at Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas and Jackson county in Missouri, the total is 812,762.

ms_canada: I grew up in Nebraska. It is definitely a prairie state. I'm not sure I would say the same about Iowa. Maybe the western end of Iowa, but crossing the state west to east you transition into a different zone.

Ember: "...basketballs with hair". That's hilarious!

bthom37: That couplet sounds like Ogden Nash. Who wrote it?

bthom37 13 years, 2 months ago


I believe you're right about it being Ogden Nash, although I personally first saw it unattributed in a PJ O'Rourke book.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

I looked through several anthologies of literature and poetry that I have. I wasn't able to find this particular poem in any of them. But a web search did find several sites that attributed it to Ogden Nash. Reading your earlier post immediately called to mind his poem on courting a woman:

Candy Is dandy But liquor Is quicker

And the rhythm of the lines reminded me of:

The cow is of the bovine ilk One end is moo, the other milk

It just seemed like something he would write. And it was utterly apropos to today's discussion. In fact, one of the websites I found was on this very topic.

(As an aside, P.J. O'Rourke is also quite humorous. He once quipped that a certain public figure was useful because "every moral compass needs a butt end.")

bthom37 13 years, 2 months ago


The 'candy is dandy' one was first told to me by a priest. Very disturbing.

Yeah, even though I don't always agree with PJ O'rourke, I find him to be one of the more amusing political scribes out there today. Although one wonders how his hedonistic style is working out in today's political climate.

italianprincess 13 years, 2 months ago

Well since I'm such an honest person........I'm an overweight women, but make very good money working.

I'm not your stereotypical large person though ( some are labeled as lazy, worthless, ugly, etc. Some out there tend to label heavy people as this even though they don't know them ( how sad ).

I work way to many hours a day, and get about an average of 5 to 6 hours of sleep each night before my day starts again.

Yes, I do eat right, get some exercise, and all of that. The last time I weighed 125 I was in the 9th grade. I'm 41 now, have had two kids, and put on some weight. I'm still the same happy go lucky lady though with the brightest of smiles to all.

Have a great weekend everyone and TGIF!!!!!!!!!

J Good Good 13 years, 2 months ago

I spent several years working in Japan, and while there are definitely guys that assume every American woman is easy, they are the minority. A fair percentage totally ignore American women altogether and the rest are very respectful. Japan has much more separate cultures between the sexes than we do.

It was refreshing to feel very safe anywhere anytime of the day or nite. It was a very worthwhile experience on the whole.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

jg, your post made me think of a news items about Japan I read a few days ago. I thought it was in The (London) Times but couldn't find it there when I looked. I did find the same story here:

J Good Good 13 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, a lot of problems are caused by the fact that most Japanese girls and women are taught to be very(!) deferential to men, and they won't turn around and punch the guy like many women around the world would. Or even call them on it. Which is why the other American teachers and I never had any problems, I would guess. In the perspective of how many people ride these trains every day, it is a problem, but not a huge one. The awareness of it as a problem is growing and that is encouraging.

It is a remarkably safe country all in all. I found traveling and exploring the country was fun and easy and worry free. It is a beautiful place, very lush.

There really is an "eastern mind" too. It is fascinating to me just how different their fundamental view of things frequently is. This book by the guy who wrote "Bright Lights Big City" (name escapes me right now) called Ransom (character's name, no kidnapping involved)really nailed Japan in a lot of ways. I was laughing out loud.

ms_canada 13 years, 2 months ago

you all are going to think this is something I have just made up, but I swear it is true. What a coincidence. My husband and I have been interviewing couples for the position of caretaker in one of our apartment buildings. Yesterday a couple came, very presentable, nice looking, intelligent, I thought. Weeeeeeeeell. Three times the interview was interrupted by her cell phone and the resultant conversation. I finally had to ask her please to turn the phone off. Do you think they are going to get the job? Another time a few years back, when mini skirts were in vogue, a young couple came, she with a skirt so short that when she sat down she had to hold her hand in front and over her crotch for modesty sake. This is just to say the sometimes people are their own worst enemy. With some effort and a little common sense even a short heavy person can present a good appearance.

Fangorn 13 years, 2 months ago

I once interviewed a guy who showed up for the interview wearing flip-flops. I also noticed that more people consider it acceptable to wear jeans to job interviews. It just doesn't seem professional to me, from a hiring standpoint. On the other hand, I interviewed a nurse who dressed very nicely but was showing more cleavage than a Las Vegas chorus line (I mean the whole line, not just one dancer).

jt: I hadn't heard anything about the dean, so I've no clue as to a reason. Maybe that could be one of our questions next week: "Was [fill in reason here] sufficient cause to fire the dean of students?"

Mari Aubuchon 13 years, 2 months ago

The Fed Reserve study from which this question was derived showed that being a tall, attractive man or a slim, attractive woman are associated with higher incomes for the same position.
this is often the case whether an employee is hired by someone of the same or other sex, showing that this issue goes beyond simple sexual attraction. In study after study, it has been found that people ascribe all sorts of positive personality and character attributes to those who meet the criteria of "attractiveness". In other words, if you are a tall, nice-looking guy, people tend to view you as more intelligent, kind, pleasant, etc...

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