Research on Finnish Society

Physical attractiveness – who believes it is a ticket to success?

Outi Sarpila & Jani Erola
University of Turku

According to previous research, physical appearance is an important asset that contributes to socio-economic success. However, the consequences associated with physical appearance are often considered gendered. By focusing on the two aspects relevant to physical attractiveness and social stratification, gender and socio-economic status (SES), the article examines whether or not women and men in certain socio-economic positions consider physical attractiveness an important asset in everyday life. We use data from a nationally representative survey. Our analyses suggest that women tend to believe that physical attractiveness contributes to success in life more often than men. Furthermore, we find that the representatives of the middle class, in particular, recognise the significance of physical attractiveness. This applies to both women and men. The results suggest that appearance-related beliefs reflect, first and foremost, the internal battle of middle status positions as well as the willingness to separate oneself from a lower status group.

Keywords: Physical appearance, social stratification, socio-economic status (SES), gender, beliefs

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