Here are two stories from Forbes: one tells us that, surprise, looks matter for women in terms of promotions (thinner, taller, confident, dressed-up women make more on average). The story does not address the way looks affect the promotions of men — except in the case of height. Does that mean there is no link for men on weight and appearance?

The second story offers more on the French gender quota proposal covered below — this one with a few more details on who gets onto boards of directors in the US, and why.

Putting the two stories together lets us wonder–would looks matter any less for women if there were more women in positions of power? Sure, looks do affect our perceptions of everybody, maybe especially in leadership roles, so people –male or female — who don’t attend at all to appearance would tend to be passed over for those jobs. But looks on their own do not a leader make, as our national undying loyalty to Oprah signals, whatever her shape of the moment. In fact it’s Oprah’s ongoing struggles with a body with its own opinion on what looks good that draws us to her and creates a dynamic of mutual empathy — and understanding that while standardized looks may entice us, they aren’t what finally matters.

Paying attention to grooming while projecting a confident attitude (the way to fulfill one version of attractiveness) is not the same as spending enormous amounts of time at the gym, refusing all sweets, or signing up for surgery. While looks count more for ladies in a world of male power, if power were equalized, women might feel less pushed to focus so much on appearance (and self-criticism) and have more time for developing their good ideas. Looks-wise, we’d likely get a range of leaders as a result — some svelte, some not so svelte; but they’d all have something interesting to say. And maybe the rest of us could relax a little as well.


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