Unpacking Beauty Bias: What It Is and the Legacy It Leaves

Posted April 11, 2022 by in Beauty

Over thirty percent of women in the United States feel insecure about their bodies, and beauty bias in our society makes it worse.

Do you feel inferior to people you perceive as more attractive than you? Do you feel like more attractive people are more successful?

We’ve got the 411. Read on to learn about the dangers of beauty bias:

Woman looking at herself in a mirror

What is Beauty Bias?

Beauty bias is the idea that in our society, people who are perceived as more attractive are more successful in their careers and in other aspects of their lives.

Unfortunately, beauty bias is further influenced by western cultural standards. That means that non-white people face more discrimination based on their appearance, regardless of how attractive they actually are on an individual level.

The relationship between beauty and racism is closer than you might think. White people are more likely to benefit from beauty bias than people of other races, no matter how attractive they are in reality. This is a top-down issue since the majority of CEOs in the United States are white men.

There are specific issues that come up when it comes to race and beauty, too. For example, when Black women wear their hair naturally, they’re often seen as unprofessional. This isn’t something that affects white women, and it means that Black women have to fit themselves into stereotypical boxes in order to succeed.

Gender identity and presentation can also affect beauty bias. People who don’t dress or present themselves in ways that are stereotypically masculine or feminine might face greater discrimination in the hiring process and in the workplace.

Surprisingly, beauty bias tends to have a bigger effect on men than it does on women. Men who are perceived as more attractive make a higher percentage more than men perceived as less attractive than women do. 

People who are perceived as too beautiful can also face discrimination. Pretty privilege only goes so far. People who are too pretty are often treated as less intelligent, and not taken seriously enough in the workplace.

Beauty Bias in Other Contexts

Beauty bias doesn’t just happen in the workplace. Beauty bias starts affecting our lives early in our school days. Children who are perceived as “more attractive” are more often chosen to be captains in gym class or to speak out in class. This teaches children that more attractive people are more valuable to society, which makes the dangerous cycle of beauty bias repeat itself. 

Beauty bias affects grades, too. Students who are perceived as more conventionally attractive tend to get higher grades than people who are perceived as less attractive.

Overcoming Beauty Bias

There are ways you can overcome beauty bias without compromising who you are. People who are more confident tend to be perceived as more attractive.

Practicing self-care can also help you overcome the beauty bias. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If you’re not, try and create a sleep schedule and stick to it.

Consider your diet, and see if there are changes you can make to improve your health (rather than your appearance). If you’re not getting enough exercise, see about working a walk into your everyday routine. 

If you want to make changes to your appearance, like rhinoplasty, you should do it because it’s right for you and will make you feel more confident in your appearance, not for anyone else.

You can also make less extreme changes to your appearance. Getting regular haircuts will help you look fresher and cleaner, which will make you seem more attractive. You can get manicures and pedicures. Or, get yourself a spa day once in a while. Feeling more relaxed and centered will help boost your self-esteem, which can also help you be perceived as more attractive.

Or, you may be struggling with your wardrobe. If you wear the same things every day, it may be time for you to reinvent your look. You can look around online for pieces that interest you.

Or, if you’re totally lost, make an appointment with a personal shopper and see if they can give you suggestions for creating the perfect work wardrobe. Just make sure you take your company’s dress code into consideration.

Fighting Against Beauty Bias

There are also ways that we should be fighting to dismantle beauty bias on a societal level. If you’re in a position where you’re hiring, always keep beauty bias in mind and think carefully about who you’re choosing to hire.

Once you have hired someone, treat everyone equitably. Like with the gender pay gap, keep the beauty bias pay gap in mind.

Science is also coming up with ways to overcome beauty bias. Different researchers are working on algorithms so that machines make decisions about hiring and promotions, rather than humans. However, algorithms can often be biased by the humans who create them, so there’s a lot more time to go before this research is perfected.

Other researchers believe that making changes to how the hiring process works can help reduce beauty bias. For example, some believe that taking as long as possible before the hiring manager sees possible candidates in person reduces the impact of beauty bias in their decisions. 

Beauty Bias: Now You Know

Clearly, beauty bias can cause a lot of different issues. But, by understanding these biases, we can eventually overcome them as a society.

Are you looking for more advice about lifestyle, beauty, and more? Some of the other articles on this website may be able to help you.