Wednesday 13 November 2019

Lorraine Courtney: Short skirts can go a long way when it comes to landing those dream jobs

TV presenter Gabby Logan is well aware lookism can decide who gets hired
TV presenter Gabby Logan is well aware lookism can decide who gets hired

Television presenter Gabby Logan this week admitted that she probably got her first big break in sport because of wearing "quite short skirts". It came six months into a job at Metro Radio in the mid-Nineties when she was sent to interview players at Newcastle United's home ground, St James' Park. Her then boss advised her what to wear before setting out on her first assignment.

"I didn't understand why, because there was this bloke who was about 65 or 70 who always did the interviews," she told the 'Radio Times'. "Then the boss said that maybe if I wore one of my shorter skirts and stood on the touchline they might notice that we wanted an interview. I used to wear quite short skirts, and they'd say, 'Oh, here comes the girl with the belt on'.

Despite that, Logan had to prove she was more than just a pretty face.

"If I'd just gone off and slept with the star player, they would have said, 'See, that's what happens when girls report on sport.'"

Are beautiful women just born lucky? There are endless surveys and studies that carp on about how easy the beautiful have it. How they end up richer, happier, better coupled, more lucratively employed and so on. The bottom line being, however good we've got it, they've got it better. In fact, "lookism" is the latest discrimination to hit the workplace.

Victims of the trend are judged by employers on aspects of their appearance, ranging from weight to clothing and from hairstyle to body piercing, and while some are turned down for jobs, others miss out on promotion. A 2010 study by America's National Bureau of Economic Research found that attractive chief executives were paid more than unattractive ones, and it was generally accepted that attractive people earned more and married better.

Good-looking people worried about higher education shouldn't worry. Beauty is every bit as useful as a BA when it comes to getting on, according to another study. Researchers at the Leuphana University of Luneburg in northern Germany found wages, promotions and perks at work are linked to a person's attractiveness.

While looks have long been thought essential for women to climb the corporate ladder, they reckoned, they are also important

for men. The team questioned more than 3,000 people about their careers and compared them with rankings of how attractive they were. Researchers gauged their subjects' looks on a scale of one to 11. The results showed that only one point above average on the attractiveness scale and the chance of getting employed rises by 3pc. Yikes! So much to discuss.

Not all employers are that shallow, but it's no secret that we are a culture consumed by image. The media world takes this to a whole new level. Women who present on TV are judged on appearance rather than intelligence. Women on TV are expected to be decorative, capable and always, always perfectly dressed and groomed.

In dictating these stereotypes, female viewers are as much to blame as male TV executives. And I'm as guilty as anyone. No matter how profound the economic crisis that Miriam O'Callaghan discusses, I'll miss the whole thing if somebody's having a bad hair day. O'Callaghan continually plays up to her beautiful queen image, doing a recent photo shoot wearing a revealingly short skirt.

SOME Americans are starting to take the advantages given to the beautiful so seriously that lookism is being compared to sexism and racism.

One exponent of protecting the rights of the unattractive is Deborah Rhode, professor of law at Stanford University. Her 2010 book, 'The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law', imagines a future in which the ugly can fight for equality with the pretty people.

All of us are reared on the kind of reality TV and pop culture that screams that everything is a candidate for upgrade. We've watched faces being taken apart and pieced back together on 'Ten Years Younger', bodies transformed on 'The Swan' and 'Extreme Makeover'. We compare ourselves with the Photoshopped images in magazines, and read surveys that confirm our worst fears.

Plastic surgery used to be for the rich and famous; today, we've levelled the playing field with cheap boob jobs, tummy tucks and procedures you can get during your lunch break. Men too, having lost the monopoly of well-paid jobs, are investing in their erotic capital to enhance their appeal to mates and employers. They are marching off to gyms and discovering anti-wrinkle cream in record numbers. It does pay to look your best at work.

Irish Independent

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