Mar 082007
Authors: Hilary Davis

Is President Bush a babe? Do you think Nancy Pelosi is a hottie? Do you drool over Dick Cheney? Maybe you don’t think so, but it seems the general electorate might disagree with you.

Researchers and economists have found that in the U.K, Finland, Australia, Germany and the United States, residents like pretty politicians and are more likely to vote for someone if he or she is good looking. I’ll bet you never looked at your voting records that way.

And politicians are not the only ones for whom it pays to be pretty, or to at least use a flattering publicity photo. Daniel Hamermesh, an American economist, has recently completed studies that show “ugly” people earn less money across the board, even in professions where appearance has nothing to do with the job.

Are attractive people smarter? Probably not. But are attractive people better at their jobs? Maybe, just maybe.

After all, pretty people have a lot going for them right from the start. Chances are, barring any major surgery or drinking of the pretty potion, pretty people have been pretty all their lives and have been treated preferentially because of it. It’s no secret the human eye likes to look at symmetrical objects. Studies have shown the more symmetrical someone’s face is, the more likely they are to be considered beautiful by others.

Beautiful people also have more advantages than their not-so-fine-looking friends. Again, the human eye seeks out beauty, so it almost makes sense that teachers dote and call upon beautiful children first, and they ultimately do better in school. Or that day care workers feel more love and compassion for a cuter toddler, so they become popular and social among other children much faster. Such advantages are bound to add up, resulting in a serious leg up for the future Mr. and Miss Americas of America.

There is no doubt about it, the way you look matters today. Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably dumb. And also secretly considering Botox or hair plugs.

Yet this goes against all of what America used to stand for: pulling yourself up by your bootstraps like Horatio Alger, achieving the American dream even with the odds stacked against you. Now it seems not even Horatio Alger could pull himself up like Horatio Alger (I hear Horatio was chubby and had a lisp.) Indeed, it is more likely, or at least easier, to pull yourself up by your jock strap because evidence suggests that hot guy at the gym might just end up with bigger biceps and more money.

Of course there is always the ego factor: Pretty people read articles and studies like this, toss their gloriously shiny hair to the wind and say, “Well, I knew that already. I think I’ll go find a ridiculously high paying job now, because I am ridiculously good looking.” Sometimes confidence matters more than ability, as two researchers from Harvard and Wesleyan were able to show. The researchers asked people to estimate how good they would be at solving puzzles under time constraints, then they were asked to solve as many puzzles as possible. Strangely, the attractive people were more self-confident about their abilities, but did not actually do any better.

So whether you are thin or fat, blond or brunette, hot or not-be confident. I sound like a Dove commercial, but my motives have nothing to do with your self-esteem. I’m just trying to help you make a little more money and feel a little smarter. Because here in America, if you are overly confident and you actually are rich enough, it should also be easy enough to become president. Just ask Bush the babe.

Hilary Davis is a senior technical journalism major. Her column appears in the Collegian on Fridays. Comments and feedback can be sent to

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