If A Panda Didn’t Look Like A Panda, Would The World Still Care?

A British Conservationist has stirred up a ton of controversy because he believes we should let pandas go extinct and “put them out of their misery” because they are “stupid” and possess poor survival skills.  My question is, if the Panda looked like Golem from Lord of The Rings, would there still be an uproar?  The Black Rhino and Beluga Sturgeon are equally as endangered but you never hear about them.

I was at an MBA recruiting fair the other day and I noticed several of my fellow corporate representatives spend a disproportionately longer time with one particular candidate.  Where average conversations last 3 minutes, conversations with this one candidate would last 10+ minutes.  Coincidence this candidate was probably the most physically attractive person there?  I don’t think so.


According to a study released in 2005 by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, “beautiful” people tend to earn 5 percent more an hour than people who look like me.  Economists also found that women considered obese in terms of their body mass index (BMI) in both 1981 and 1988 earned 17 percent less than women within their recommended BMI range.  Short men also are disadvantaged by 3% vs. their taller counter parts as well.

Whether we like it or not, better looking people have an advantage over normal looking people with all things being equal.  If you had a 5% advantage over the house, you could literally bankrupt any major Vegas casino. In fact, as one who’s studied publicly traded gambling companies such as Wynn and Las Vegas Sands, any customer win percentage greater than 3% leads to massive losses for the quarter.

Golem from LOTR

Golem from LOTR


We shouldn’t hate good looking people for being beautiful.  After all, looks are an exogenous variable that nobody can control.  Instead, we need to accept our attributes and improve on what we have, the endogenous variables if you will.

1) Work out. If you wanted to lose the spare tire, you know you can.  Just look at all the contestants on “The Biggest Loser.”  They all lost at least 30% of their body weight after 3 months!

2) Eat right. Donut, latte, ice cream, pizza say goodbye.  More than working out, eating right is the most effective way to lose weight.  See “Losing Your Way To More Money“.

3) Groom. Wash your face, pop your zits, smell nice, get a tight haircut or professional style, and make sure there is no broccoli in your teeth.  Ask one of your closest friends or family members to give you an honest opinion of how you look.

4) Invest in a modern wardrobe. You need an outfit that blends in with your manager or potential employer. Wear nice shoes too. There’s something about a beautiful pair of shoes for both men and women, that just stands out and says success.  Women love to check out guys shoes, as well as other women’s shoes.  Feet are our foundation, strap some nice leather on them.  Looking the part lets you earn the part! See “You’re Not Going Clubbing – Interview Attire 101“.

5) Keep your hands dry. Sweaty palms really leave an impression; a bad, sickly, clammy impression!  Hence keep a small towel in your pocket to dry off your hands right before you’re about to shake.  Some talcum or baby powder in the other pocket works well too!


Life isn’t fair, but unattractive people have a tremendous advantage over beautiful people.  Attractive people can’t get that much better looking, but we can!  Why do you think the “ugly duckling formula” in movies always works so well?  Let’s use our comeliness to our advantage and wow our colleagues.  From every line of work, you will find very successful not so attractive people.  Perez Hilton, celebrity Blogger is a great example and blogging phenom.  Not that attractive,  he decided to do something about it and lost 40 pounds.  We’ve been so used to his sloppiness, he now looks relatively handsome with his new weight and threads!

Since the original thesis is that better looking people earn more, we rationally should want to look better, and we can!  Let’s not let the beautiful people beat us out on things we equally deserve!  Unattractive people of the world unite!


Sam @ Financial Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. Charlie says

    Man what a great post!! What you’re saying is so true. I love the towel in pocket interview tip cuz I get grossed out shaking wet hands and that’s such an easy way for nervous candidates to avoid that problem.

  2. Harvard says

    It’s true, we live in a biased world. I like the fact you point out that it can’t get much better for good looking folks, but it can for the rest of us! haha.

  3. Lovingkind says

    If a panda didn’t look like a panda, instead if it looked like Golem, there would not have been so called “Panda Diplomacy” and we would not have found them in some of the zoos that we find them now.

  4. says

    To tell you the truth I never give any thoughts about physical aesthetics anymore. In fact it is to my disadvantage if I measure myself based on my attractiveness. Everything shall pass, even the beauty in all things. We need to focus on our inner beauty because there is where we can fully radiate our true beauty. :-)

  5. says

    Walter – I agree about inner beauty for sure. In the longer run, our inner beauty and skills outshine and reveal who we truly are. Looks only get people so far, and that’s a point I should have made further in my post. Thanks for stopping by Walter.

    I always enjoy reading new reader’s own blogs!

  6. Dave - LifeExcursion says

    Awesome post! Hilarious, intriguing, down-right correct. Great motivation to turn one’s physical appeal up a notch.


  7. says


    Great posting. There is a small, but real effect of physical attractiveness bias on wealth. A lot of people don’t really understand this.



    • says

      Thnx James. Like I mentioned, just a 5% advantage like the study says makes a HUGE difference in the long run. $5000 more a year for 20 years is $100,000 and closer to $150,000 after a normal rate of interest return i.e. 3-4%. Thnx for stopping by! FS

  8. says

    “2) Eat right. Donut, latte, ice cream, pizza say goodbye. More than working out, eating right is the most effective way to lose weight. See “Losing Your Way To More Money.”


    I laughed when I read this because I’ve had all four in the past two days. How many times have I had each of these in the past year? Don’t even ask.

    I’m packing a little extra weight, but not much. I think running is the best way to lose weight. It’s so hard to get into because you feel like your making no progress, but when you can run 3 miles per run 3 or 4 times a week it might be all you need to stay in decent shape.

    You don’t have to look amazing, it’s not like you are modeling. At least be conscious of how you look, though. Work out sometimes, try to eat some veggies and fruits, and just generally look decent. If you are willing to work hard you will excel when that guy (or girl) who is more attractive than you won’t be able to compete.

    • says

      Haha, sounds good David. In the long run, the superior performer outperforms whether they are good looking or not! BTW, if you’ve been thinking about working on Wall St. after school, check out tomorrow’s guest post and ask her a questions.

    • says

      Hey Tyrone! Thanks for stopping by man. Sweaty palms is kinda tough. I suggest you hold each other’s pinkies then! Or my favorite, just draping my arm over my wife. :) FS

  9. Denim Heels says

    Great advice! It doesn’t take much to start looking good and staying healthy. My advice is to get in a routine and hold yourself accountable to it.

  10. says

    I would like to add another aspect of looking good, looking good when you need to look good. I will look my best on the days important meetings are to be held., I look good when I am on business trip, meeting with new someone who is my senior in organization.

    • says

      That’s a good point. Hopefully we are looking the best that we can look, our upper band if you will during situations that matter the most. Curses to those who look good always! :)

  11. says

    Well, I’m definitely not one of the beautiful people – but it’s OK, age equalizes us all – there are not very many (outwardly) beautiful people in their nineties!

    What’s that saying about women – needing good looks in their youth, intelligence in middle age and money when they are old……?

  12. Untemplater says

    It’s amazing how much of a difference simply wearing an ironed shirt and combing your hair can do. Even for us average Jane’s and Joe’s it doesn’t have to take an hour or more to look presentable! :)

  13. says

    I remember hearing that a person makes up their mind about you in about 30 seconds. So most definitely appearance is an important factor! Luckily it is something that can be improved with work – I think many celebrities out there wouldn’t get a second look if it weren’t for being coached on appearance and having pros helping them out (e.g., Paris Hilton – sorry Hilton fans).

    • says

      Yeah, 30 seconds… or maybe even instantaneously!

      If I was a movie actor, I would work out at least 2 hours a day… b/c that’s part of my job. Which is why we shouldn’t compare ourselves to the beautiful folks, b/c that’s not part of our job requirement!

  14. says

    I would think you were part of the “beautiful people” elite :)

    moral of the story is: I need to start wearing more make up. I used to get all glammed up in high school and university. Then something changed and I became complacent.

  15. says

    6) be confident. Usually an attractive person is very confident. There is no reason why us unattractive people can’t exude confidence as well. ;)
    I think it’s also a lot easier on guys. If you dress well and groom yourself, you’re more than half way there.

  16. says

    I remember this fellow I worked with in a previous life. Although quite portly, he carried his extra weight well, wearing the most exquisitely cut suits, tailored shirts and beautiful silk ties. Well groomed hair, and discreet cologne. Despite being fat, he cut a fine, self-confident figure. That I can remember him after all these years bears testament that you don’t have to be trim and fit to make a good impression.

    • says

      Self confidence definitely goes a long way. If one is just clean, neat, and is self confident, s/he will go a long way, despite any physical appearance handicaps s/he might have.

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