Jean-François Amadieu

The Impact of Appearance Publication date : March 1, 2002

In France, certain ideas are popularly and tenaciously held. People like to think that everyone is equal under the law, that important decisions are governed by reason alone, and that, ever since the advent of a more liberal society, it has been possible to be natural, spontaneous and different. But is this really so?
Le Poids des apparences attempts to answer this question by addressing the taboo subject of physical appearance. A serious, well-documented work, it combines presentation with outright denunciation. Contrary to received opinion, good looks play a decisive role in achieving individual success — whether academically or professionally, whether in politics or in love.
Could it be that appearance is not just a question of clothes and makeup to be relegated to women’s glossy magazines, but one of the keys to discrimination and to the insidious but very effective reproduction of social inequalities?

Eight chapters cover the following: Standards of beauty; Only beautiful people obtain loans; A key to academic success; Sexual conquests, marriage and mobility; Professional life: the shameful reality; Guilty of an ugly mug, delinquency and social outcasts; The political show: beauty and gender parity; Outsiders.

Jean-François Amadieu is a sociologist and teaches at the University of Paris-I. He is the author of Les Syndicats en miette.