Even when attractive women are performing at the top of their game, studies show that beauty can be its own glass ceiling. Pretty women tend to be seen as too feminine, and thus unsuited, for most leadership positions that are associated with masculine traits—one reason, perhaps, why so few women CEOs control Fortune 500 companies or Wall Street firms. Attractive professionals face more subtle snares as well, like unwelcome sexual come-ons, and assumptions about their lifestyle and sexuality.
Beautiful men may face a similarly hard road. People might assume they’re dumb, say they sleep around, and accuse them of being bad fathers. But if this is the case, it seems to be as yet unknown to science. The bulk of research on the benefits and drawbacks of attractiveness focuses on women, at least so far. As the objectification of men’s bodies increases in advertising and media, its likely that more research will address the anxiety caused by beautiful men.
I’m not saying that looks don’t matter. But the doors of success swing open widest—and most smoothly—when real skills, hard knowledge, and genuine experience pull the handle. (If you don’t believe me, ask yourself where the most attractive people in your high-school class are today.) That’s why it’s best to fold up your peacock feathers, if you’re lucky enough to have them, and strive for an appearance that is merely a vehicle for attributes that actually get better with age.
“Now remember, I do my best work when I’m being worshipped as a god.”