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Bad Hair Days Are a Thing, and Other Reasons Appearance Counts

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 24, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

We recently read an article about a new study about to be published, entitled "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Fairest of Them All." The study examines the relationship between an individual's perception of her own attractiveness, and social hierarchy, reports Quartz.

The study was instigated by the finding that in 2008, despite the economic downturn, Americans continued to spend lots of money on their physical appearance (yes, it's called the "Lipstick Effect").

Let's look at the study's findings, and some practical implications for life at BigLaw.

Performance and How Your View Others

Basically, the study found that, "If you believe you are attractive, you tend to think you belong in a higher social class yourself and believe, accordingly, that hierarchies are a legitimate way for organizing people and groups."

So, the more attractive you feel at work, the more that will translate into an image of responsibility and power. And in BigLaw, where you need to stand out from a sea of associates on the partner track, that little advantage can go a long way.

How You Are Viewed

If the study's findings are generally applicable, then it would seem that if others also view you as more attractive, that they would place you higher in their own view of social hierarchy. Though this particular study focused on an individual's self-perception, it's old news that attractive people are more successful.

Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder...

...And the beholder is you. Do you need to run out and get plastic surgery? No. All you need is a little attitude adjustment -- don't be so hard on yourself. Next time you want to make a good impression on a colleague, partner, or client, take a few extra minutes to fine-tune your appearance.

Another option is to think back to a time that you felt attractive, and let that memory influence your forthcoming interactions, suggests Prof. Margaret Neale of Stanford's Graduate School of Business, who co-authored the study. Either way, it may be a small effort, but the payoff can be huge in so far as your own self esteem, as well as how others perceive you.

What's your bad hair day work around? Let us know on Facebook for FindLaw for Legal Professionals.

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