The Ugly Side of Beauty

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Updated: Aug 18, 2023
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Not too long ago, my best friend asked me to join her on a shopping spree. I thought it could be fun to browse and help her choose some cute pieces, so I decided to tag along. However, I found that jeans and tops weren’t the only things pervasive in the retail stores; supermodel-like women seemed to always be close by, eager to help customers. This got me thinking. Why was I surrounded by a peculiar amount of beautiful people? There was no way they had all gotten hired by chance; it seemed like a strategy of some sort.

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Almost as if, should I buy something, maybe I could look like them.

Senior industry analyst and author of ‘Why Customers Do What They Do’ and ‘Buy Me!’, Marshal Cohen, has also taken note of this strategy being used by private companies. In his book ‘Buy Me!’, Cohen outlines various ways in which businesses can persuade customers to invest in their items rather than those of competing sellers. Marshal Cohen stresses that it is vital for industries to hire employees who will draw customers in, and I disagree because doing so could result in discrimination, unemployment, controversy over the notion of beauty, and a lack of diversity.

Discrimination and unfair treatment are ongoing issues in all parts of society, not only in the workforce. But when companies are given the privilege to hire to fit a certain “look,” this problem is only exacerbated. In his article, “Bay Area Retailer’s ‘Diversity’ in Question,” Matt O’Brien tells the tale of Hani Khan, a young Muslim woman who was fired from Abercrombie and Fitch for wearing a hijab. The popular retailer prides itself on a beachy “all-American” look, which, after five months, they decided Khan was not suitable to promote. This incident is only one form of discrimination Muslims have received in America, and it is highly likely that Khan’s experience is not unique. Are Muslims not recognized as “all-American” in the eyes of big retailers? Firing Khan sends a message that Abercrombie and Fitch seem to convey.

Although “attractive” people are perpetually being hired, the same cannot be said for those who aren’t considered conventionally attractive. In an article titled “A Company May Reject You for Your Looks—and That’s Totally Legal,” written by Alessandra Malito, Malito discusses how Donald Trump was accused of terminating employees whom he did not find visually appealing. Because Trump was finicky about employee’s appearance, supervisors would only have the good-looking employees work—who were not always the most competent or efficient in their job— when he would visit the Trump National Golf Club. If numerous companies share this mindset, unemployment for “unattractive people” will only continue to rise. Hiring should be based on one’s ability to get the job done, not one’s ability to sit and look appealing.

So, with all of this talk about “beauty,” it’s important to discuss exactly what that means. However, beauty is subjective. It is an idea formed by each individual, based on experiences and preferences. Although the concept of beauty has evolved over time, it still has a long way to go. Sue Shellenbarger, author of “On the Job, Beauty Is More Than Skin-Deep,” interviewed Daniel Hamermesh, a professor of economics, regarding the issue of beauty and how it impacts or affects one’s success in their career. In order to avoid the short end of the stick, Mr. Hamermesh advises unattractive people to pursue careers where looks are irrelevant. This is where I disagree. I have been raised with the mentality that I can be anything I want as long as I put work into it. Mr. Hamermesh is taking a step backward by trying to limit the dreams of others just because they don’t look a certain way. Individuals shouldn’t conform to society’s preferences, but, society must learn to accept those who don’t exhibit certain characteristics and allow them to involve themselves in whatever career they please.

Because many members of society share the same view on beauty, diversity in clothing stores is minimal. Whenever I go to the mall, the salespeople who I encounter usually share similar characteristics. Many seem to be young, blonde, and fit individuals who are often considered “ideal.” With this in mind, I wonder if I, a short Mexican girl, would be able to get hired at places like these. How many people who didn’t fit this description have been denied? Is diversity impermissible? Whether it’s on purpose or not, several companies have not taken the chance to be promoted by people of all types.

So, what can be done to rid the world of this issue? First and foremost, it’s crucial to realize that beauty does not always amount to brains. When considering someone for a job, take experience, education, and personality into account as well. But before this can happen, we must change as a society. We need to be more open-minded and accepting of people who are different. After all, beauty isn’t everything.

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The Ugly Side of Beauty. (2022, Aug 27). Retrieved from