Being Short, Fat and Ugly May Be Keeping You Poor

(4 Things You Should Know About Erotic Capital)

Looks matter!

Getting a bachelors or even an MBA is not enough to guarantee you financial success in life. Your level of swag, sexiness and sociability are equally, if not more important.

You may disagree, but that is the thesis of a controversial new book by Catherine Hakim, a senior lecturer at the London School of Economics – Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital.

The book, which has been reviewed extensively by top financial outfits like Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, advocates the use of “erotic capital.” According to Hakim, erotic capital is a combination of six qualities: beauty, sex appeal, social grace, liveliness, social presentation, and sexual competence.

While the debate rages on, here are four things you should note:

 1) The concept of erotic capital concept is not new.

The natural (and perhaps proper!) response to the concept of erotic capital is revulsion. You can hear the disdain when you read Elizabeth Day of The Guardian. She states:

 …according to Hakim, none of that education or career nonsense that our mothers and our grandmothers fought so hard to give us access to carries much weight any more. In fact…our time would be far better spent getting a spray tan, slimming down our muffin-tops at the gym and emulating the “vivacious” personality of the glamour model Katie Price.

Yes, the concept is provocative but, to an extent, it is simply a restatement of what Jamaican parents have been banging into their children’s head from time immemorial; “manners carry you through the world.” The idea is social graces matter more than we would like to admit.

 2) Yes, erotic capital is a mean thing to consider, but its substance has already been well documented.

All Hakim seems to have done is amalgamate the scattered bits of research into one theory. From as far back as 2009 however a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research in the United States noted, in short (lol), that taller people were wealthier and happier than “smaller people”.

Sean Gregory, analyzing the study for Time Magazine asked the pertinent question, “Why are tall people happier?”  Are you ready for the answer?

“…the result is linked to education and income. The study found that taller people tend to have more education, and thus higher income levels, than shorter people. It follows that the smarter, richer tall people would be sunnier than their vertically challenged compatriots.”

As I said before, erotic capital is nothing new, just a direct, compound assertion of reality.

3) You can stick your head in the sand and think certificates run the world…
…or you can (despite how much you hate the idea) recognise that being smart may be just half the job.

Are you really fine? Ask yourself!

You are Norbert Reithofer, CEO of BMW and you want to hire a young man to, not just represent you, but all that BMW stands for, in the Caribbean. Two candidates are shortlisted and they come for an interview.

  1. Candidate 1: Hair freshly cut. Ermenegildo Zenga suit (Forbe’s Best Male Suits), with a pair of equally European John Lobb shoes (Forbe’s Best Male shoes). Just imagine that he is the definition of dapper.
  2. Candidate 2: His shave is a week old. There is a spot on his shirt and a faint stain on his pants, like right in the front! His shoes are shines. His colours are not coordinated; his teeth are crooked and yellow! Upon shaking your hand you smell something pungent.

Who will you hire if both are equally smart; the socially awkward, yellow teeth grizzly bear without clue or the dapper young gentleman who from the outset looks like he arrived at the interview in a BMW Z4M Coupe?

4) Be careful though. Erotic Capital is a misleading concept – take it literally and you will probably end up in jail.

The term erotic capital, is inappropriate – and deliberately so. The author knows that the word is reserved for things “relating to, or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement.” (Oxford Dictionary)   Clearly, in a professional capacity, behaviour meant to conform to that definition would be highly inappropriate.

The fact is, while this article has argued that beauty, social grace, liveliness, social presentation and perhaps even a little sex appeal, will undeniably affect your professional interaction, readers should note that sexual harassment in the modern context includes any sort of unwarranted sexual gesturing. Additionally consider the fact that, though your morality is not quantifiable, it is invaluable.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Wildes (@AndrewWildes), a law student, journalist and aspiring author. Read more about Andrew at MaximizeMyLife. Thanks to hikingartist for the photo.

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    • K. Robertson

      it isnt a new concept but it does seem to be one men are more willing to exploit than women. it is argued that men have no problem using every available advantage to move ahead in their chosen field, while women shy away from using “erotic capital” as Ms. Hakim so aptly puts it – “Women who parade their beauty or sexuality are belittled as stupid, lacking in intellect, and other ‘meaningful’ social attributes.”

      http://blogs.hbr.org/corkindale/2011/09/exploiting_beauty_in_the_workp.html

      thoughts?

      • Good link. Good article as well Andrew, never realized this book and subject was such a hot topic!

        Here’s an interesting paragraph… probably the summary.Women, she says, are more charming, more graceful in social interaction, and have more social intelligence than men, but they don’t exploit those advantages. Men, on the other hand, have no compunction about using every asset to get ahead in their careers and have no embarrassment about reaping the benefits. Hakim says women feel shy, embarrassed, and ambivalent about admitting that they trade on their looks, and for good reason given the prevailing attitudes: “Women who parade their beauty or sexuality,” Ms Hakim writes, “are belittled as stupid, lacking in intellect, and other ‘meaningful’ social attributes.”