With attractiveness now a major advantage in society generally, as well as specifically within the workplace, this chapter considers a number of issues raised by the importance of one’s appearance. Drawing on the concept of aesthetic labour the chapter highlights how hiring on the basis of looks is now a well-established strategy in a range of occupations and organizations, especially those in the service sector. The chapter considers the legal and ethical implications of employers often hiring on the basis of appearance, including attempts in some jurisdictions to prohibit appearance discrimination. The chapter concludes by outlining recommendations which, whilst outlining the need for a certain degree of pragmatism on the part of potential employees, equally recognizes the need to work against societal standards of what denotes ‘good looking’, ‘attractive’ or ‘sexy’.
I read the reviewers’ comments again. ‘Wow, I’m never, ever going to get published’, was my immediate thought. Thankfully, though, I had the wise counsel of two senior colleagues to put the reviewers’ comments into context and understand that such comments were not uncommon. Rejection is, unfortunately, part of academic life. This experience was based on submitting a jointly authored paper, drawn largely from my doctoral research, to a high-quality journal and getting a very clear rejection. Now as an editor of a journal, Employee Relations, my philosophy is very much driven by these formative experiences of being a young researcher getting a brutal rejection. In that sense I am pleased to be in a position of editing a journal that has a publicly stated aim of offering an accessible, though rigorously assessed, platform for early career research.