Clare Foges posing for a picture: ( © Provided by Daily Mail (


By Clare Foges

Heading to a political networking event in my 20s, I would ensure all bases were covered.

Was I well-briefed? Check. Had I read the day’s papers? Check. Was I fake-tanned, blow-dried, wearing false eyelashes so thick and luxuriant that, in the event of a storm, small animals could have sheltered under them? Check, check, check.

Though no Helen of Troy, in my 20s — with sincere thanks to Estee Lauder, Max Factor and friends — I could turn the odd head. And this, of course, I used to my advantage.

Working in Westminster and surrounded by grey-suited politicos, it helped to look attractive. Sit for an hour or so in the central lobby at the Houses of Parliament and you will see many beautiful young women click-clack by in high heels, their forms zipped into knock-off Roland Mouret dresses, their eyes on the prize of some plum special adviser role.

Clare Foges, Janet Street-Porter are posing for a picture: MailOnline logo © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo

These aren’t bimbos — far from it. They are smart girls who know that looking pretty is a privilege. It opens doors, oils wheels and makes men and women alike warm to you.

I know whereof I speak for I have seen both sides of the pretty picket fence.

In my teens, I was the ultimate plain Jane, wearing spectacles so thick they shrank my eyes to the size of peppercorns. Gazing back at me from the mirror was a cross between Danger Mouse’s swotty sidekick Penfold and a potato. Then came lashings of make-up, hair dye and contact lenses — and new power. It wasn’t just men that reacted differently to me but other women.

Good looks are the great unacknowledged superpower.

Sometimes, I will read a rags-to-riches story of some beautiful young woman who claims she rose up ‘against all odds’ and I will scoff — for winning the genetic lottery means the odds are already stacked heavily in your favour. Pretty women are perceived as being smarter, healthier, more competent — even more moral, to the extent that pretty privilege is probably felt in our justice system.

"{:tag :span, :attrs {:class "femail-ccox"}, :content ["Good looks are the great unrecognised superpower "]}"

Gallery: Dating is hard now? You wouldn't have survived the '30s, '40s, and '50s (StarsInsider)

Eleanore Whitney et al. standing in front of a building: Dating in the modern age is a minefield, especially in the digital era with apps, texting, and entirely new codes of technological behavior in the mix. There are a lot of things to think about—you have to pick the right platforms, figure out how to properly construct your profile to attract the right kind of people, and not fall for any false advertisements. You also have to navigate texting (how soon is too soon to reply?), cope with the inevitability of being ghosted, and deal with a lot of things that are separate from actually meeting someone.Because of all these new complications, we seem to have a romanticized idea of dating in the past. In our collective imagination, romance "back then" was filled with meet-cutes, chivalry was alive and well, and there was an added air of mystery because you couldn't stalk a person's entire digital history online. Plus, you could lie about your age! But in all seriousness, dating in the 21st century is nothing compared to the strict social codes permeating the first half of the 20th century. Magazine columns and entire books were dedicated to teaching young folks the proper etiquette when it came to courting and being courted. While very detailed and highly regarded at the time, those guides have not aged well in the least.From shockingly sexist gender roles to hilariously ridiculous things that were considered in "bad taste," nearly every single one of these rules should be broken in today's age. You may be surprised at how far we've come since the 1930s, '40s, and even '50s, though it's equally surprising just how many people relied upon these guides to determine another person's character.Check out this gallery to see the most bizarre etiquette rules from not-long-ago-enough, and revel in the freedom of dating we have today.

Several times, I have read of attractive young women committing serious crimes and receiving far lighter sentences than we would expect for a man found guilty of the same offence.

There is a reason why the global beauty industry is worth £370 billion. All those mascaras, facials and creams are our bid to get ahead of the rest of the pack when it comes to love, success and professional status.

Since long before Cleopatra ringed her eyes, prettiness has been a privilege. It might be unfair, but we don’t instruct people not to use their brains or sporting talents or other genetic gifts. If women have got ‘it’, who can blame them for using it to their advantage?


By Janet Street-Porter 

You’ve heard of sexism, racism and ageism, but what about ‘lookism’ — the unconscious habit many employers have of picking people who are attractive even when they may not be the best person for the job?

Good-looking people aren’t just lucky, they are born with an unfair advantage because the rest of us have been conditioned from birth to judge a person by their packaging.

There are countless academic studies proving that attractive people have more confidence and better social skills, which make them more employable. But — speaking as a former boss — does that make them a better bet than their less attractive peers at rising through the ranks?

In my opinion, it does not. I want co-workers to be smart, intelligent, resourceful, kind and funny. I couldn’t care less what they look like.

And it seems I’m not alone. While studies show that handsome men can earn 13 per cent more than less attractive blokes, beautiful women, on the other hand, don’t do as well, frequently relying on a high-earning partner to boost their income.

Beautiful people often gravitate to careers or working environments in which they can exploit their looks — social media, the beauty business, modelling, acting and television. There they compete against other ‘perfect’ people.

"{:tag :span, :attrs {:class "femail-ccox"}, :content ["Women who use looks to get ahead only go so far "]}"

But in the real world outside these professions, when good-looking people fail, they tend to get treated more harshly than their peers. We secretly think ‘they had it coming’ as a bit of a punishment for making the rest of us feel inadequate.

In every business teams need a good mix, with very different personalities. Some people will be good at detail, others at brain-storming and developing ideas. Some want to stay in the background and hate the limelight.

I’ve discovered — through decades of recruiting in television and print media — that putting together the group who will be loyal and bring your ideas to reality requires a huge range of skills.

The ability to look great in a swimsuit or be able to attract millions of followers on TikTok is not one of them.

I’m not conventionally attractive and got where I am because of my brains. The women who use their looks to get ahead will only go so far. I don’t blame them, but I’ve not got time for the naive bosses who fall for their charms.

They’ll find out that brains and empathy beat the shallow charm of good looks in the long run.

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