Dating, Relationships, & Sex, Theory & Essay

How Much Is “Hotness” Worth To You?

When I was younger, my parents and I used to play a particularly morbid game called “How Much?” The game consisted of one of us coming up with a somewhat random and totally morally ambiguous task  — i.e.: “How much would it take for you to put a chicken bone in the collection plate at church?” — and try to figure out the least amount of money that it would take for one of us to do it.

Why was it morbid? Well, the game operates under the assumption that everybody has a price, regardless of how moral or righteous you claim to be. Maybe you wouldn’t run a block around your house butt-naked for free or throw a head of lettuce at a school crossing guard for a 20, but what if someone offered you $1,000? No? How about $50,000? Exactly.

Adding to the morbidity quotient was the fact that this game was usually played while on the way to one of my Pittsburgh Diocese grade school football games. It was quite difficult looking Father Joesph in the eye 15 minutes after admitting to my parents that I’d consider hitting him with a milk-filled water balloon for $3,700.

Anyway, I was reminded of this game while talking to a friend yesterday afternoon. He mentioned that he came across a pretty attractive woman while scrolling through the “People You May Know” sidebar on his Facebook page, and he remembered that his very first thought when seeing her was “Damn. She must have a really easy life.”

I ignored the man code violation (Seriously? You see a hot chick and your first thought is “Damn, she probably never has to sweat”???), and we started a conversation about whether unattractive people should have affirmative action. I assumed that he was bringing this topic up because he’d read my piece about, um, whether “ugly” people should have affirmative action, but I soon found out that he hadn’t — an awkward moment reminding me that I’m not quite as big of a deal as I like to think I am.

Anyway, my ego recovered in time to debate whether we both believed that the more attractive a person is, the better their lives tend to be (we do), if attractive women lead the “easiest” lives (they do), and if there’s an actual tangible price on beauty (there is) — a discussion leading to an inevitable question:

“Since there are obvious long-term social, emotional, financial, and even physiological benefits to being attractive, would you pay to be more attractive?”  

Basically, if you were somehow given the ability to pay money to be 25% cuter or four inches taller or four inches longer or to reshape the head you’ve always been self-conscious about or possess that hour glass frame you’ve always coveted, would you do it?

And, if so, how much would this service be worth to you?

Now, I realize that many of you will scoff at those questions, and that’s understandable. You’re happy with the hand God gave you and you’d do nothing to change it, you love yourself totally, flaws and all, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

If you feel that way, I’ll choose to believe you, and I’ll also choose to believe you’re not one of the hundreds of millions of people in this country who spend billions of dollars a year on artificial aesthetic enhancements — shoes with lifts, makeup, heels, weave, foobs, etc.

If you’re not one of those people, I’m curious: Knowing that a 15% bump in attractiveness might also give you a 15% bump in happiness and success, would you make that investment? If so, how much would you be willing to spend? I mean, if the difference between being a 5 and an 8.5 might be $800,000 in lifetime earnings, that service has to be worth at least $100,000, right?

—The Champ

***An extended version of “Herman Cain: Uncle Ruckus or the Baddest Motherf***er Alive?” has been published at The Good Men Project this week. Check it out of you get a chance***

Filed Under:
Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • http://mrweethomas.wordpress.com Mr. Wee Thomas

    Hmm,

    It would depend on how unattractive I was and what my currently outlook based on career trajectory seemed to be. At the moment, I look good enough and possess enough in-demand skills that the extra earnings that I could get by being more attractive isn’t really worth it to me. Because in the scenario you described, that extra only comes over time.

    Now, if instead of getting the benefit as an annuity, I could take it as a one-time lump sum tomorrow, that would result in likely quite a different calculation.

    • ThisIshRightHereNinja

      rare that my exact sentiments are covered in the first comment. But yeah, what he said!

  • Tressie

    Nah. I think I’ll stay passably ugly. I lose some of the lifetime earnings but I remain interesting, to myself anyway. I don’t know how this whole time-space continuum butterfly wings thing works but I assume that if I change one aspect of my person my whole person changes? Then I’ve put all this work into knowing thy self for nothing?!!! Maybe I lack a gambler’s spirit but I’m going to ride with the known quantity on this one.

    • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

      “passably ugly” made me LOL for real

  • Deeloveli

    I’m not spending anymore money than I already do.

    • Deeloveli

      It was worth a shot.

      To elaborate, women spend a shit already, as the Champ pointed out, on “enhancements”. I denounce weave but in the same breath will tell you I only wear M.A.C. (Yeah. I’m THAT girl). But all shit cost time, and time is money. And these aren’t tangible gains. They’re just anecdotal. Cause pretty girl problems are the worst kind to have.

      Personally, I’ll just keep spending a crap ton on hair product, and trips to the salon. More money on gym memberships pilates and organic produce. I’ll keep shopping for uber trendy clothes and skyscraper platform heels. Add that up and that’s what I’m willing to spend to be more attractive. Cause Hell, that’s already too much.

      • http://sarcasmforbreakfast.wordpress.com MizzCam

        +1

      • http://twitter.com/#!/XylinaChapman Lina

        Yeah that ish is already too much. Hmm, would you do it if it guarantees that you wouldn’t have to spend all that extra money? Or do you think you’d break even, so it’s neither here nor there?

        • MissMina

          Excellent point! For the ladies, it might actually be more cost effective if you spent say 50k to upgrade your looks, but never had to spend another dime on hair, makeup, a gym membership (assuming you ate healthy), etc. You’re not only saving money, but time! All those wasted hours in the doobie shop/hair salon throughout a lifetime?! I might actually have to invest if that was the deal…LoL

        • Deeloveli

          It’s not about breaking even for me so much as it’s about tangible gains. I’d want to know how much easier I’m going to get it. Some girl who got a promotion because she’s a 10.5. Not cause she’s a 10.5 with a Wharton business degree. Not free drinks at the club for the next 5 years. A sugar daddy who will setup a trust fund for my neice? Worth it. I’d take the money I’m spending on Grad school and apply to plastics, extensions (head and eyelash) and a fly wardrobe and be done. Same return, a helluva lot less work.

          • http://www.twitter.com/t_o_y_e YaYo

            Hey. its working for Evelyn Lozada!!

        • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

          I don’t think there’s anything I could do to permanently keep from having to do my hair besides shave it off. Even if I had perfect skin I’d still play with make-up. I’d still shop for cute clothes even if my body was perfect. So I don’t think there’s any procedure that would really save me any money.

      • Dom

        MAC is expensive as hell but totally worth it. I get complimented on my makeup at least twice a day. Besides, they’ll give you a free lipgloss with every zillion empty bottles. I try to pretend that means I’m getting a discount.

        • LadyC

          MAC eyeshadows give me high!
          YSL golden gloss with the gold flecks are divine
          Bobbi Brown oil cleanser is amazing

          ….makeup addict. LOVE LOVE LOVE MAC beauty launches

          • Nell

            I’ve never really stuck to brands, but really that depends on the type of cosmetics. If it’s eyeshadow and primer, I can honestly say I’m an Urban Decay girl (that NAKED palette is THE SH*T!). In terms of mascara and eyeliner, I go straight to L’Oreal – I don’t believe in spending too much on those things unless I want a color other than black or brown, and for that it’s back to Urban Decay.

            The most I’ve spent on gloss is $20 on Lancome Juicy Tubes, and I don’t want to do that again. The Victoria’s Secret lip gloss does me just fine, mostly because I rare wear lip color.

        • hehe

          IMO Mac isn’t expensive compared to other department store brands I love. Mac is a step above drugstore but not quite as pricey as other brands. Love their lipsticks!

          • J.ivy

            Exactly. I love their lips. Chanel mascara and NARS for everything else. Luckily I don’t actually wear much more than lips and mascara cause NARS is pretty ridiculously priced.

      • xLadyTx

        +2

        Yeah, I’m THAT girl too. Although I don’t wear much makeup, when I do, its ONLY MAC. I do like my weaves tho! :)

      • hehe

        You have to broaden your horizon. Mac is cool but it’s not the best.

        • Deeloveli

          I’ve spent sometime with the high end department store brands. I only wear Diorshow mascara and Lancome liners. Bobbi does some good things with color, but no one is as trendy. They launch color lines three times a quarter easily. No one does pigment as well as M.A.C. and they match my lightly toasted caramel tone flawlessly.

          • MissMina

            #1 I didn’t know about the MAC empty bottle thing!!! I coulda had free stuff long ago! Bless you! LoL.

            #2 Yes Yes Yes to Diorshow mascara! I love my Blackout! LoL. I am in the market to at least try a different one though, so suggestions are welcome.

            #3 LadyC has intrigued me with her description of YSL lip gloss! I stay pretty fresh face (earth tone shadow, mascara & liner) but I’m trying to venture out more into the land of lip color and all that other pretty, shiny stuff LoL.

            It gets a bad rap, but I really think makeup is more of a fun thing for us gurls than an insecurity thing. At least for most of us anyway.

        • Cali

          they’re up there though – I’m a MAC girl too, not everything on my face has to be MAC but it’s my main line of facial goodness :)

        • http://www.styleillusions.com WIP

          I think L’oreal and Iman have some great items. I only deal with MAC concealer- which is that fire.

          • http://Twitter.com/nik_jax Yaaadgyl

            I haven’t been around in forever so not sure how new this is but WIP, ur pic is reaaaaally pretty!

      • SheWhoReads

        Dang, I’m “that” girl too. All MAC everything, well primarily, and I refuse to wear weave. I mean, I don’t wear weave, because I saw “Good Hair,” and knowing those good Indian folks thought that they were shaving their hair off for spiritual enlightenment turned me all the way off. Plus, weave is hella expensive, and my natural curls are just fine.

        Urban Decay’s primer is L-I-F-E in a tube, but I have MAC everything else. Even MAC brushes, which actually changed my life. I had no idea what I missing until I invested in those expensive a$$ brushes.

  • http://moacn.wordpress.com Sir Fariku

    The human condition dictates that everyone, even those who we think are the most beautiful, handsome or whatever always have something or the other they would love to change about themselves if given the chance. Some people are more content than others.

    I m saying, we get haircuts, take baths and dress well to make ourselves more attractive of course for hygiene as well. So yeah if I could I would change stuff about myself, but I got no idea what.

  • http://www.eroticdiva.gr/eshop Dildo CyberPower

    Damnit, people are getting uglier inside by the day. We still lose focus…

  • http://panamaenrique.wordpress.com Malik

    First things first. Glitter patrol character Yoles is in the hospital at the moment. She is fine though so don’t worry. I’ll update when I go see her.

    I would pay to be like Clark Kent. I mean someone that looks rather unassuming and plain. I think I would have been far more well adjusted. I don’t know how much I’d really pay for that though.

    • CurlyTop

      Send VSB kisses and warm wishes to Yoles!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/#!/XylinaChapman Lina

      Thanks for the update. I’ve missed her presence. I hope everything ends up being okay.

    • Hawaii

      Tell Yoles hello for me. :)

      • http://iamyourpeople.com I Am Your People

        Nurses make TERRIBLE patients. Yoles needs to get better since they’re probably contemplating killing her by now :-)

    • nillalatte

      Hoping she has a speedy recovery. Say hi from Nilla too.

    • http://twitter.com/kjnetic peter parker

      hey tell Yoles i hope she feel better…and that i say “massa got me workin’, but i’m still kunta kente, no whips yet” lol…she’ll get it

    • Cali

      YOLES, I hope you feel better soon!!!

    • Ms. My2Cents

      Delurking to send some healing vibes your way, Yoles!! Have a speedy recovery.

    • CNotes

      Prayers sent up for Yoles!

      • http://twitter.com/#!/legitimate_soul legitimate_soul

        I second the prayers for Yoles.

    • Mo-VSS

      I hope she’s recovering from whatever ails her. Praying for her and her speedy discharge from the hospital.

      Thanks for the update.

    • k-steez

      Praying for her!

    • http://Twitter.com/nik_jax Yaaadgyl

      Please give Yoles my best…

    • A Woman’s Eyes

      Tell Yoles to activate her super self healing powers and keep her head up.

  • http://thisistip.wordpress.com thisistip

    this is pretty deep…however I am not. I would have liposuction and a boob lift if I had the money. If there was a surgery that could make my feet shorter I would do that too. #dontjudgeme
    I would do all of these things to please myself, not because of any advatanges I would get because of these changes. Although I do agree that pretty people do get ahead in life.

    • J.ivy

      I would have all the same stuff! Lol. But I can’t go with you on that last sentence.

    • CNotes

      “If there was a surgery that could make my feet shorter I would do that too. #dontjudgeme”

      No judgement here cause I would get smaller feet also. I know that I’m tall and my feet are likely proportionate with my height, but sheesh!!!

      • Sigma_Since 93

        @ CNotes I swear your pic resembles one of my classmates in grad school!

        • CNotes

          Was she pretty?? Just kidding (unless she wasn’t) LOL! Seriously though, people always tell me I remind them of someone they know or have seen. : )

          • Sigma_Since 93

            I never looked at her like that (probably saved my marriage) :D! She never had to worry about having an empty dance card because she had many suitors.

            • CNotes

              : )

  • Bunny.

    That $$$ for the head of lettuce is looking good.

  • lotusflower11

    I like the term foobs.

  • http://ccooper929.wordpress.com/ Chad C.

    Well, the only thing I would pay to change would be braces for my teeth. Sadly, my parents didn’t let me go through that phase of childhood of being called “metal mouth” or whatever name those cruel little kids say to ppl in that situation. I’m cool w/ my height (5’10”) and wearing glasses. But if someone offered me the right price, I’ll have a weight loss procedure to drop to 185 lbs. Then it’s off to the gym to maintain so I won’t gain (again).

    However, personally, I feel that their is unique beauty in people who have some kind of imperfection or flaw. I guess that’s why I would have a hard time dating a girl who had her whole face lifted and looked like a plastic doll.

    Glad the site is back up. Hope all of the e-roaches & bugs are fixed.