'Beauty Premiums'​ - Paying the Price

'Beauty Premiums'​ - Paying the Price

21 February 2023

A common topic of discussion, researchers have long recognised the impact that physical beauty has on all aspects of life - particularly within one’s occupation - from your position to wage to given responsibilities. Whether a subconscious bias or not, we all know the uncomfortable truth; individuals who are often considered more attractive tend to see better benefits. Now the real question isn’t to study why this is the case, but rather whether this concept should be capitalised on. 

Within the events industry, it’s not uncommon to hire in external staff to help cater or support an event.  Some resource companies within the industry have used this to their advantage, by offering ‘premium’ services which consist of individuals who are the ‘elite’ version of their ‘standard’ counterparts, primarily promoted highly for their looks. With workers often occupying front-facing roles, the way these individuals are perceived could play a role in the way the event itself is presented. So, is offering a premium price for those considered ‘good-looking’ completely out of the question

Now, its common knowledge that those who are better-looking are favoured; as a natural, inert reaction, psychologically we look up to ‘beautiful’ people with a level of aspiration and confidence. Numerous studies have concluded that in general, ‘better-looking’ people are paid better than their counterparts. This is in part because attractive people tend to have desirable personality traits, like higher self-confidence that appeals to employers.

With this, is it not to say that the ‘premium’ service is simply reflecting societal norms and offering a level of service that is offering the best when needed. If you’re going to be seeing the person making your drink, serving you food, bringing you canapes, does it not benefit to have attractive individuals doing so - are clients going to come out of the event with a more positive outlook on the experience dependent on how the staff looked?

Whilst it is illegal in the UK to discriminate a person based on any of nine key ‘characteristics':

age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; and sexual orientation.

…There is nothing to say that distinctions can’t be made because of the level of attraction of a person. Now that’s not to say that levels of active discrimination are not in play with this ‘premium’ concept. Those that are considered to not be part of that category are unlikely to feel positive about the idea, particularly if it stops them from earning a higher wage. This also stems into a factor of further discussion as, who does it fall upon to assess whether an individual is attractive; if they don’t fit into the beauty standard that is commonplace in society, due to characteristics because of ethnic background perhaps, then are they considered less attractive?

If this is the case, do we as an industry and brands within want to be associated with these companies that are offering such services. Not just from discriminatory standpoint, but with feedback demonstrating that abilities do not match up to the premium suggested, is the increased price point worth the investment. With a plethora of brands recognising the importance of standing up for key movements, such as BLM and women’s rights - among many others, an argument can be made that the concept hinders societal progress by still promoting a level of distinction based on physical characteristics.

Or is it simply profiting from an unconscious bias that is already commonplace and using it as a tactical business model? If one wants to make the best impression at an event - therefore having a certain type of individual working - then having the option available from an established business is more reputable.

What are your thoughts on the concept? We’d love to hear from you.



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