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Pretty? Pay Up!

I’m not wealthy, nor did I ever think I would be, but I always felt I should have more money then I do. Now I know why I don’t: I’m not pretty.

According to University of Texas economist Daniel Hamermesh in Why Attractive People Are More Successful, pretty people average $230,000 more in earnings over the course of one’s work life than unattractive people. If you were smart enough to save that $230,000 as it came in, it could amount to millions. And all because you’re pretty.

Is this fair? Should there be an Ugly People’s Disability Act that boosts the income of the unattractive to match that of attractive people? I look the way I do because of my parent’s genes and because I never met a hot fudge sundae I didn’t like, and that too can probably be blamed on my parents; can I sue my parents for lost wages?

I checked into this with a lawyer I know who makes more and looks better than me, and he said no. I simply have to compensate for my looks with competence. He wasn’t kidding. What is the ratio of competence to beauty? He didn’t know.

I watch the folks on Fox & Friends (I would now change the name of their show to Foxy Friends) who seem to excel in looks while being a bit on the lighter side of competence, and wonder how I can compete. Then I watch Rev. Al Sharpton who makes up in decibels what he lacks in looks. Maybe that’s the way to go: loud and proud.

I’m really at a loss. And worse, I’m in my 60s so my level of attractiveness, as low as it is, is only going to get lower. Well, it may be too late for me, but there are millions of Americans like me for whom some redress is possible. Here is my suggestion:

Take a look at yourself in the mirror and decide if you are pretty or not. If you are, prorate the $230,000 extra you will earn because you are pretty, and start giving that money away to the unattractive people who live around you. Have some cards printed up that read, “I’m sorry you’re not as pretty as me; here’s $100,” and put a fresh $100 bill in the card and start handing them out on the street or at the office. After you’ve given away 2,300 cards, you can stop and just go about your business. I look forward to getting your cards.


Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. In the print version of our magazine, he has an advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addressing reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art. Rabbi Rami hosts our podcast, “Essential Conversations.”

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