Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you want to make a good income you better hope your beauty is beheld by your employer, Dr. Daniel Hamermesh tells The Wall Street Journal.

According to Dr. Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas, attractive people earn an average of 3% to 4% more than those with “below average” looks. Doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up to $230,000 over a lifetime.

Dr. Hamermesh author of the book, “Beauty Pays: Why Attractive People Are More Successful” was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal in order to bring some insights to his research findings.

Before I delve into the psychological aspects of income and attractiveness, I wanted to research what people were saying about Hamermesh. A quick google search showed me that those who have had the chance to read through his book say it is an interesting read, but the studies carry many limitations therefor weakening the data set. That being said, the specific research figures could be argued while the overall takeaway remains that same.

Don’t Be a Reporter Unless You’re Pretty

Dr. Hamermesh makes an argument that, hiring attractive people over average-looking people can be a form of discrimination but there is little that can be done about it. Quite possibly the most appalling part of the interview is when the doctor was asked, “If you are unattractive, what can you do to improve your odds of getting paid well?” Both the question and answer seem slightly ignorant in our opinion. His answer: But to your question: First, don’t go into an occupation where looks matter a lot. Don’t be a TV broadcaster; be a radio broadcaster. Don’t be a movie actor. Most important, go into fields that you enjoy, and that you have an advantage in doing. Accentuate your strengths, and try to avoid those things where you are relatively disadvantaged.”

Um, What?

I’m sorry, I understand the argument, I really do. Americans like pretty things, and they are willing to pay more for them, including people. Another argument can be that attractive people have more confidence, therefor exude a stronger, savvier work ethic. But telling an individual not to go into a certain field because they don’t covet the typical look sounds bogus to us.

Work Hard, Work Where You Want

Granted, one occupation where looks truly matter on a superficial basis is modeling, and that’s understandable. But turning people away from jobs such as TV broadcasting and acting seems to be a little much for me. Yes, the typical hollywood starlette is tall thin and beautiful, but that doesn’t have to be the standard.

Did you see Tina Fey before she became famous? We love Tina Fey, and think she is absolutely gorgeous and hilarious but even she will admit, she didn’t always look like a celebrity. Can you imagine if someone told her not to pursue her passions because she wasn’t pretty enough? There are plenty of actors and actresses that have made it big, with out being conventionally attractive. You’ve got; Steve Buscemi, Kathy Bates, Melissa McCartney, Zach Galifianakis and so on.

To reiterate, the people listed above are in no way considered ugly to us, they just don’t fit the particular standard. In fact, the I happen to think Zach Galifianakis is adorable even though he is not tall, tan and ripped.

If you don’t look like Gisele Bundchen are you going to have to work a little harder? Probably. But should a certified Doctor be telling you not to go for the job of dreams, or settle for less because of your looks. NO. Yes, looks play a part into your role in society, unfortunately people are visually stimulated, but that’s why it’s important to look YOUR BEST. Instead of turning this article into a list of average-looking people who have struck it big in image-based jobs, I want to focus on why they made it big.

Success Isn’t Measured by Looks

As if the interview doesn’t get ridiculous enough, the interviewer goes on to ask if plastic surgery is a good alternative solution, which (luckily) the doctor shoots down.

I completely believe Dr. Hamermesh’s findings, attractive people probably do make more than those considered to be unattractive. BUT, I also believe that the doctor’s sentiments of not taking certain jobs, because you won’t flourish in them is the exact mentality that is harming regular-looking people’s chances at success. Hamermesh says:

“You would think you could find examples of occupations where being unattractive wouldn’t hurt you at all. But in every one I have looked at, being better looking helps you. For example, you wouldn’t think it would matter much if you are teaching in college. But based on my studies, better-looking [professors] are more appreciated by their students.”

Of course better looking professors do better, because they are catering to the superficiality of college kids. But if you take a truly good professor who has a passion for what he or she is teaching, and is incredibly influential, it doesn’t matter if they have three arms sticking out of their heads — students will appreciate them just fine.

Good looking people have it easier, yes, but that doesn’t mean people with below-average looks can’t rise to the top and higher.

Marina Shifrin

Marina is a staff writer for She is an expert in college finances, consumer spending and banking.