on February 7, 2008
I was looking on Amazon for a book that could tell the hard, cold, objective facts about the influence of physical appearance on general success in life. First, I found Dr. Patzer's earlier book. It seemed chock-full of studies and as much objective material as I could ask for, but the reviews complained it was too textbook-like and scholarly. Dr. Patzer must have taken the criticism to heart, because he published "Looks" in 2008, so the average layman/woman can understand the profound influence that their LOOKS can have on every single aspect of their lives.
I didn't need to be convinced of this, but I wanted some proof and data. "Looks" provides ample proof and data, along with true stories from the past and present, quotations and even statistics. For instance, did you know that highly attractive people may earn from 7.5 -15% more than their average looking peers? See page 82! "Looks" is loaded with details like this that will make you re-evaluate everything about your social and economic life -- your job, your friends, your education, even your relationships with parents and siblings.
And lest you think that this is merely a phenomenon of the modern era, Dr. Patzer has some proof that our bias towards the beautiful is not only ancient, but built into our very genetic code.
If you ever need to be convinced to lose some weight, dress for success, get your hair cut, rethink that total-body tattoo project, "Looks" is the book I would highly recommend.
Dr. Patzer also touches on the subject of "lookism" and identifies the few states that have laws that prohibit it.
About the only criticism I have is the end portion that focuses on what you can do to avoid being personally obsessed with the way you look and how others perceive you. While this subject has its place, it seems self-defeating to me to take chapter after chapter to prove how looks influence virtually everything in your life, and then end by telling people they shouldn't be worried about that pesky 5 pounds. Seems to me most of the world is right on worrying about the pesky 5 pounds, if 10 or 20 can influence your love life, employment status, economic security, influence over others and social class so profoundly.
In general, however, this is an eye-opening book about the world, the way it REALLY works, and anyone who takes the time to read it is doing themselves a huge favor. I was grateful to get the unvarnished truth from a social scientist committed to studying this aspect of human relations.
on February 17, 2009
The title of this book pretty much says it all. Anyone with half a brain can see that we live in a superficial world where appearances matter, but I never imagined just how much. This book illustrates the way our appearances effect almost every aspect of our lives from the way our school teachers treat us, to who gets the big promotion at work, and which stories make headline news. It's fascinating, infuriating, and definitely worth reading.
This book's research and thesis are simple: if you are not physically attractive, you are going to experience a harder life than usual given everything else is equal. A more physically attractive person, everything else being equal, will almost invariably have far better choice of partners, jobs, income, education, service, and even courtroom outcome than a physically unattractive person. You thought all those beauty obsessed people were little crazy? Well think again, given the overwhelming power of physical attractiveness, they could be the smart and sane ones in this insane world.
The book, rightfully, does not delve into moral battles of right vs wrong. That is for every individuals to decide for themselves.
What the book unmistakably makes clear, however, is that one's physical attractiveness matters a BIG deal in practically everything (even parents like the better looking child more).
So you think being overweight and unkempt has little bearing in how successful you can be and how people perceive you? Think again. Lose that weight and get a makeover. If you are physically unattractive, you are in deeper trouble than you know. The world simply doesn't like physically unattractive people very much. To make matters worse, the world LOVES physically attractive people. Ugly people definitely gets the shaft.
So make sure you look your best for the world. Be thin, dress well, practice good hygiene (including dental), and do everything else that enhances your appearance.
Plastic surgery? I can see why it could be worthwhile after reading this book. I can no longer criticize those who seek and get one.
on April 21, 2008
People who read this book may want to believe that this never occurs, or that the author is just using some extreme examples when they fail to view the other side of the story as well. These people will just be denying their belief systems the sad truth - that your looks matter most to everyone you will ever come into contact with in your life. After all, if there are no pre-conceived notions of a person, what else is someone going to judge you on? They don't know what you're like on the inside, how much money you have, etc. All they can see about you at first meet is what you LOOK like. And first impressions, they say, are lasting impressions, and count the most in how people evaluate and think of us.
The author even makes mention of the show "Average Joe" in his book to highlight the fact that given someone who has everything going for him with lesser than perfect looks versus someone who has reallt nothing else going for him except for his looks, the female candidate in this case chose looks over substance.
The chapter on looks and how they affect you in the workforce is quite eye-opening, and may explain countless people's frustration as to why they never got the promotion or given the leadership role when they, and everyone else around them knew that they were the best candidates for the job.
I also like his analysis of how the population keeps on getting better looking as all the "uglies" are left on the single scrapheap, and beacuse of better genetics we look for better looking partners.
I don't agree with the last chapter though, where the author highlights 2 case studies and says they need to re-affirm their use of affirmations to convince themselves that what happens in their lives is not solely based on their looks, whereas everything else up untiil that point in the book is stating the obvious otherwise.
Still, I can realte to the guy in the last chapter and his case in life. But I do not that these affirmations won't work, especially in the pursuit of true answers to the questions that plague people about why they cannot achieve as much as others in life, given that they are on equal footing in all other areas.
Myself, I'm a shorter than average 5"6 male living in a western society where height is THE MOST sought after value looked for by a female for their mate. I know I've always had problems getting promoted at work over my colleagues, even though my work was of the same standard. I long to meet a woman who i'm physically attracted to, but the women I am attracted to always seem to rule themselves out of anything with me. I went prematurely bald (age 18), spent hundreds of dollars on self-help books and colognes that make me "smell" more attractive to women. Spent over $3000.00 on a sorry-looking hair transplant at the age of 20 which made the front of my heasd look like an un-attended rice paddock (thank god, after wearing this hairstyle for 9 years I had the deceny of mid to shave it all off, which left me with these horribly big scars across the back of my head), and over $2500.00 on a course to meet and be more confident with women, which after over approaching over 1000 women I haven't managed to find the woman of my dreams yet (nor i believe has any other guy who took the course wih me). I wish these companies had just been upfront with me about all of this in the first place instead of scamming me of all my hard-earned money. It took me reading this book to re-affirm why none of the above had ever worked for me.
When I think about it LOGICALLY my next big saving is for some scar reductions and leg-extensions in order to get me up to around an average male height for a western society. And after reading this book it has only re-affirmed my belief as the best course of action, the best reason to save my money. I wonder if they do a face-off style operation too (like from the movie "Face Off") where they can change my whole facial look as well. Some more incentive to save my money for.
Don't let anyone try to convince you ever again that looks aren't everything in life. Sad, but true, they are everything in life and affect every single area of your life, whether you conciously know it or incorrectly deny it.
A refreshingly true read. Don't believe the lies!
on May 15, 2015
Makes its case brilliantly, no sugar-coating here - basically proof of what has always been obvious to anyone who pays any attention: Pretty people get all kinds of exclusive advantages in life. This book more or less demonstrates scientifically that it is in fact NOT what's on the inside that counts - that really is just something that ugly people say to try to alleviate the burn of being left behind in life and society. Don't believe me? Read this book and then simply watch the world around you with your newly-enlightened mind and watch as your saccharin delusions slip away in the wake of your observations. Brilliant book, and well-researched! I actually got this for FREE in my college's library awhile back in PDF format, but it's so good that I actually bought it in electronic copy, and plan to buy it in physical form as well. That tells you something.
on June 6, 2013
I got through about 120 pages before giving up, thoroughly exasperated. This book reads like an academic paper (which, I am certain being an academic myself - is where it found its genesis: Master's-thesis-turned-book). What does that mean for the average reader? Be ready for a study, statistics and third-person-back-up-info to be cited every few lines. And that gets old. Fast. When one buys a book like this - one expects more of an author's individual analysis and personal voice than - here is proof to back what I am saying. Yes, a reader likes to know you have done your background search and that your claims are well-founded - but a reader also likes a personal analysis, real-life anecdotes, and a less-rocky flow of prose. This book, to me, proves that not everyone can be a "mainstream" writer. Would I recommend this book? Most definitely - as it does an excellent job of laying out the arguments for the reader - and then (sigh) backing them up. Would I read this on the way to a vacation or to take break from my mountains of academic reading? God no.
on February 14, 2015
Gordon Ptazer knows his subject. I learned so much from his book while we were building Visada, www.visada.me
Beauty matters, Visada is the platform we built for beauty. But Gordon wrote the ultimate boot on Beauty, and why it matters. Thanks Gordon!!!
on June 9, 2009
As a researcher of how our looks affect our lives, I find this book the most up-to-date and authoritative overview of the voluminous body of studies that are scattered throughout the academic literature. It is nicely written for an easy and occasionally humorous read, easily accessible to a nonacademic audience. My one caveat is that Paltzer trusts the results of individual studies as if they are all replicable and generalizable, whereas I would take some of the reported findings, and their extensions to real life, with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, his broad conclusions are surely trustworthy.
on July 11, 2012
Like dusting face powder on jaundiced skin, this book ignores far deeper (and graver) issues that contribute to the pre-eminence of looks, and the dominance of "lookism" (prejudice based on looks) in our society. Patzer spends but a chapter discussing how looks have historically been of prime importance (Ch. 1: Older than Civilization), and then another on the supposed evolutionary rationale behind our obsession with looks (Ch. 2: Pass the Genes, Please). Helen of Troy drove men wild and armies to war, and men like women with big breasts and small hips because such traits are indicators of fertility. Okay. The following chapters then discuss how our looks, for better or for worse, help us or hinder us at home, school, work, and love. Almost half of the book (100 pages out of ~230) is thereby devoted to a bland enumeration of the multitude of ways in which your looks seemingly control your destiny. Getting short-changed at work because of your height? Having difficulty finding a job because of your weight? Feel despondent everytime you open up a women's or men's magazine? Don't blame society, blame the way our genes make us act, the book would seem to say. It would appear that the many studies Patzer quotes are less deep and thorough evaluations of the WHY, and more surface-level explorations of the WHAT of how looks influence our society.
The last few chapters talk about the losers in the beauty game (Ch. 9: The Dark Side of Physical Attractiveness), and the individuals and corporations that stand to profit by our collective self-devaluations and sense of deficiency that lead to consumption and product-based identity building (Ch. 10 and 11: What Price for Beauty, and The Big Business of Beauty). The book ends with an epilogue entitled "Rising Above the Effects of Lookism", which I found disappointingly depthless. As though merely being aware of how looks unfairly benefit others while disadvanting others were enough. As though self-imposed cognitive behavioral therapy-- "I need to have good thoughts about myself"; "I need to stop hating my thighs"-- were enough. When shall we realize-- the answer to our existential cry for validation does not lie in ourselves, and it cannot be borne through mere, mantric repetition. Neither does it lie in attaining beauty-- good-looking folks should be the most well-adjusted people around, then, but is that truly the case?
Witness one of the epilogue's "affirming statements" that we are, through the case study of a short, balding 40-something vicariously encouraged to model: "I need to be cognizant that I have many friends who include attractive women." It seems that embedded within this statement is one of the deeper problems that Patzer fails to address: beauty is objectified, treated as an indelibly personal trait, and therefore indicative of our particular worth. What does this lady friend's attractiveness have to do with him? As though he, by association should benefit in terms of increased self-esteem?
We have become very poor stewards of our looks. Once attractiveness is objectified, it can be quantified and boxed and hawked. However should one, through mere "positive thought" alone, remain unscathed when we are bombarded daily with an unceasing assault of deceptive images of increasingly unrealistic beauty and bodies? I saw that we should become more responsible stewards of beauty by putting it in its rightful place. Our image-drunk society would cause one to think that the sum purpose of life is to be lovely in face and form. Beauty should be celebrated in individuals both old and young, hefty and sleight. And what about beauty of character? Somewhere along the way our eyes have stopped on the flesh and failed to penetrate to the heart.
Thoughtful readers would be encouraged to read Joan Jacobs Brumberg's "The Body Project" for an understanding of how the locus of worth and focus of energies has for American girls become externalized and therefore susceptible to the abuse and manipulations of the market, or Naomi Watts' classic "The Beauty Myth" for a more complete sociocultural perspetive on how the notion of "beauty" is in many ways intricately related to power structures and gender dynamics. For a more nuanced, albeit experimental take on how lookism might "look" in the future, check out Ted Chiang's "Liking What You See: A Documentary" ([...]).
Two cents from a nickel (i.e. your Average Joe, certainly not 10/10).
on July 1, 2013
The book is interesting at first, but then after first few chapters it gets quite redundant. If you already know that good looks are advantage in our society then you will not benefit from this book. There are a few insights and specific bits of information that might surprise you, but they are far in between, and the whole book could be rewritten in a few pages. The book really just states what is obvious.