Home > Misc, opinion > What is Beautiful is not always good, but what is good will always be beautiful.

What is Beautiful is not always good, but what is good will always be beautiful.


As a human being I have always been fascinated by beauty. As an economist(not the same as a human being) I was enthralled by the possibility of good looks offering a better life. In the old times(before the dawn of mass cosmetics) beauty was a resource in demand and not in supply. Men were not dependent on it, but women(due to their limited contribution to the economy/workforce) had to use their beauty as one of the bargaining chips to get married to a good catch.

The 20th century changed the whole dynamic relationship. First of all beauty became a global business(with great margins) and “upgrades” became available. Women became major consumers of cosmetics and cosmetic surgery. Secondly women not only formally entered the labor market but have dominated some fields like HR. Women could work and at the same time “invest” their income/time in their looks. Traits handed down by genes could now be tweaked or acquired for a certain fee.

Academics and researchers couldn’t pass this opportunity. The last 10 years were filled with research papers which proved(no surprise there) that beauty makes life easier for the ones blessed with a good appearance . For example a “good looking” defendant will be viewed more favorably than an “average looking one” from the jury. Beauty also can command a “premium” at the job market. Men and women who are favored by the opposite sexes are able to earn more than a normal person. Of course in some jobs physical looks do command a premium, where interactions with customers are a part of the job. In some sectors like chemicals engineers still skills matter more than looks.

What is fascinating is that some people can get penalized for being beautiful or handsome. The “bimbo effect” can hinder some women who are after demanding positions mostly filled by men(think alpha male Investment banks). On the other hand male positions in female sectors are filled by Metrosexual men, or preferably by gays. Some recent books take a look at “beauty economics” and although they are interesting to read, the main point is not beautiful.

“Beauty pays”, a book by Daniel Hamermesh, is a book whose main point(spoiler alert) is contained in the title. In the States, the primary market for cosmetic surgery, a cute person will make $230.000 more than the average joe/jane. The author supports his thesis with evidence, but provides no smoking gun, beautiful executives bring in more revenue therefore hiring them is a smart business choice. The author avoids the morality of the aforementioned situation.

Ms Rhode, author of the book “The beauty Bias”, takes a different approach. She is more critical than her male counterpart. She views females’ obsession with their looks as misplaced. She refers to a survey where most women would rather be hit by a truck than be overweight. I personally do not see how fat can hurt than a truck running over me,but I am not fat(yet). Her wrath is justified by the fact that in the USA 90% of the market for “artificial enhancement”(my term) is occupied by women. Never underestimate people’s vanity and willingness to pay for it.

From an economic viewpoint she makes some valid points saying that discrimination bases upon looks creates a vicious cycle where the poor are let outside the loop. Poor people do not have the ability to invest more on their external beauty, whether it is exercise or nutrition( Mcds are the meal of choice for many poor americans). Of course discrimination is always difficult to be defined. It is not something stable like race or gender so making rules for equal opportunities is tricky and unfair for the employer.

The last book “Honey Money: The power of erotic capital” is more spicy and actually introduces a novel twist. Ms Catherine Hakim is urging women not to be shy about their looks and use them to their advantage(even outside the firm). She paves the way for the “erotic capital” a yet unappreciated personal resource. Her efforts do not stop there and include putting a value on physical and social assets, mostly having to do with attracting the opposite sex. Some of the skills she refers women to hone are: physical appearance, confidence, conversation ability, a cheerful attitude and some others I would rather not write about.

The erotic capital must be primed alongside economic capital(material goods and wealth), intellectual capital(what u can do or know) and social capital(connections). While I believe money can buy beauty, the author makes a counterargument that erotic capital is the only one unregimented by social class. The biggest beneficiaries are the young, the new entrants(read immigrants) and the ones who can make the most use of it are women(I know they have it easier than men).

Why do women excel at it instead of men? Simple genetics… Women over the passage of centuries had to train at the art of beauty and seduction. Consorts, concubines, Geishas, dancers, singers were roles girls were training for years. At this point though her analysis becomes a bit superficial and contradicting. The book suggests there is a male “sexual deficit”. Women and Men have the same sexual needs but after 30 the author makes the case that women after the age of 30 see their lust getting less intense while men’s doesn’t. The consequence is for the market to get skewed towards women with them in power.

Since women(according to her) will be the ones in demand they have been dealt great cards and it is up to them to play them correctly. The author’s stance surely are fiery and can produce lively debates. Surely she should ask her friends or at least go on online forums or dating sites, because one thing is certain. Women’s libido doesn’t get lower after they cross into the land of the 30s. Maybe they hide the fact for unknown reasons (maybe a female reader can shed some light on this discrepancy), On the contrary women these days are delaying wedding not only for career reasons but also to enjoy their freedom more as singles. If the author’s analysis would be correct then there should not be many cougars(women of a certain age who like to date younger – much younger men than them).Perhaps Ms Hakim should explore her own libido.

Ms Hakim makes offers some logical arguments regarding the legalization of prostitution and surrogate pregnancies for profit. She says since intellectual skills have a price and people can demand payment for services, shouldn’t women be able to profit from their own personal assets. I know some people will freak out by what they are reading. I am neither approving nor rejecting her claims, but a healthy discussion of the Pros and Cons can be constructive.

I am a fan of Zeitgeist, I belong to the current generation who is preparing to take over the reins and clean the mess the last generation left. The Authors are also past their dues, in their 60s though experienced, they are not the right people to write about a subject which influences people most in their early years. In their time, men were supposed to be masculine machos and women to be cute and submissive wives. The current Zeitgeist finds men to have discovered their inner Venus, with more feminine looks. Men are using face creams, going for facials, taking care of their silhouette and doing more of the “feminine” housework. Women though have taken the path of Mars. They have toughened up in order to join male clubs or the boardroom. Career focus works as the best contraceptive. Beauty though is temporary and if it cannot stand the test of time worthless.

What is beautiful is not always good, but what is good will always be beautiful

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Categories: Misc, opinion
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