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19 Cardozo J.L. & Gender 683 (2012-2013)
The Looking-Glass Ceiling: Appearance-Based Discrimination in the Workplace

handle is hein.journals/cardw19 and id is 731 raw text is: THE LOOKING-GLASS CEILING: APPEARANCE-
The advantages of beauty extend far beyond the aesthetic. Countless studies
devoted to this captivating quality demonstrate that we not only value beauty in the
abstract, but we also generally believe that beautiful people are, in fact, better
people. On the basis of appearance alone, people consistently attribute a host of
positive characteristics to their attractive peers-many of which bear no association
to appearance itself: on the whole, attractive people are perceived to be more
competent, happy, and successful than the general population.' They are expected
to attain more prestigious jobs, enjoy happier marriages, and lead richer social
lives.2 Moreover, these positive assumptions, referred to collectively as the what
is beautiful is good stereotype, beget preferential treatment throughout a person's
life.3 In primary school, attractive students are called on more often than their
peers4 and judged more leniently for their transgressions.5 In college, attractive
students get more dates6 and are more often elected to leadership positions by their
peers.7 And lookism, as the phenomenon has been termed,8 is perhaps most
acutely observed in the workplace, where attractive employees and job candidates
* Law Clerk to the Honorable Kermit E. Bye, United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
B.A., University of Georgia, 2007; J.D. Emory University, 2012. My warm thanks go to Professors
Martha Fineman and Kay Levine for their insights and encouragement (with respect both to this paper
and to the broader world of legal academia). I would also like to thank the editors of the CARDOZO J. L.
& GENDER for their time and efforts in preparing this piece for publication.
I Karen Dion et al., What is Beautiful is Good, 24 J. PERS. & SOC. PSYCHOL. 285 (1972); Stefanie
K. Johnson et al., Physical Attractiveness Biases in Ratings of Employment Suitability: Tracking Down
the Beauty is Beastly  Effect, 150 J. Soc. PSYCHOL. 301 (2010).
2 Dion et al., supra note 1, at 288.
3 See Judith H. Langlois et al., Maxims or Myths of Beauty? A Meta-Analytic and Theoretical
Review, 126 PSYCHOL. BULL. 390, 390, 401 (2000).
4 Elaine Hatfield & Susan Sprecher, MIRROR, MIRROR: THE IMPORTANCE OF LOOKS IN
EVERYDAY LIFE 49-50 (1986).
5 Karen Dion, Physical Attractiveness & Evaluations of Children's Transgressions, 24 J. PERS. &
Soc. PSYCHOL. 207, 212 (1972).
6 Murray Webster, Jr. & James E. Driskell, Jr., Beauty as Status, 89 AM. J. Soc. 140, 141 (1983).
7 Janet R. Goktepe & Craig E. Schneier, Role of Sex, Gender Roles, and Attraction in Predicting
Emergent Leaders, 74 J. APP. PSYCHOL. 165, 166 (1989).
8 Samantha Kwan & Mary N. Trautner, Judging Books by Their Covers: Teaching about Physical
Attractiveness Biases, 39 TEACHING SOc. 16, 17 (2011) ('Lookism' has meant that physically attractive
people are in fact treated better in many arenas of social life.).


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