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A culture of 'lookism' in todays workplaces

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Champagne | 12:00 Wed 09th May 2007 | Body & Soul
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A recent HR survey suggests that workplaces are becoming increasingly 'lookist'. A poll of almost 4,000 people reveals that better-looking people get ahead more easily in their career. And also, if you have ginger hair or a regional accent, for example, society believes it is perfectly acceptable to tease you about it.

To what extend do you agree or disagree that society believes it is acceptable to tease people abuot certain hair, facial or bodily characteristics? Or in short, when is it acceptable to tease?


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Not in this office it isn't!

The higher levelled people aren't that nice! The middle levelled people seems to be where the looks lie... oh and with me on Reception! Lol
Question Author
3 stars for that last sentence alone, pa__ul!!

Thing is, HR departments are loathe to insert 'no teasing' clauses into employees' T&C's, mainly because it would be impossible to police. And anyway, would you want to work for a po-faced firm like that? So there obviously is a very fine line between good-natured teasing and bullying.

The list of teaseable attritubes is vast; ginger hair, blonde hair, large breasts, small breasts, tallness, bad teeth, body odour, baldness, large ears, glasses, overweight, underweight. Nobody is safe!

So should it be a guideline that teasing is permissible when both parties know each other? In which case we're not allowed to sneer at somebody behind their back for, say, wearing an outfit that we think looks ridiculous?
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It think it comes down to care about your appearance rather than actual looks. I've interviewed many people in my time and I'm never ceased to be amazed at how little effort some people make. You may not be a looker but it's true that 'clothes maketh a man' (or woman!).

I don't get the teasing gingers.....there are some rather attractive ginger men Dougie Henshall, Damien Lewis etc.

I personally don't find teasing acceptable - it's a very fine line between teasing and bullying - I was 'teased' about my 'large' nose at school and although I pretended to take it in good part I spent many a night crying myself to sleep, it badly affected my confidence and even my relationships all through my twenties. I eventually had a nose job done at the age of 29 because I could take the comments no longer - a very drastic response to a problem that I could not even see (without the aid of mirrors) but was caused by other peoples 'teasing'. I had a friend who killed himself age 17 because he was 'teased' at school about his slightly effeminate appearance.......he would have grown up into a very good looking man, slim with blonde curly hair.

I do not tolerate anyone teasing someone else about their appearance as I know first hand the emotional damage it does, and it still amazes me how often people can be so cruel to another person and then try and justify it by saying 'I was only teasing'.
While I agree in principle with you Pa___ul about friends teasing each other - my friends goodnaturedly teased me......but it didn't make the words hurt any less!
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I think by the time we reach adulthood the teasing tends to slow down a wee bit and by the time we're adults people have developed thick enough skins to deal with it from childhood. Kids can be so scathing towards each other! As for promotion, it's the munters that get it where I work. I'm the lowest grade and the best looking chap in the office!
I do think that whilst we're intelligent (on the whole), aware creatures, we are governed by some basic biological desires. We like attractive features, we like strength in men, hips and breasts in women etc. It makes sense that when 2 candidates are equally good that we naturally err towards the better looking one. If there are 2 checkouts in Tesco with one attractive girl and one ugly one, then I know which one I'm heading to, and i don't think that it's a shallow opinion. Is it wrong in the workplace? Perhaps. Could you ever stop it? Not until we evlove to become brains in jars.

Teasing people is all down to context imo. Specifically the person that you're speaking to. I tease my former flatmate about gay issues, he teases me routinely about my appearence. Neither of us would make the jokes we do in other company, and understand that the humour comes from the irony or shock value rather than beliefs that we have. So context is everything, and I wouldn't tease someone if I wasn't sure of their reaction
It depends on what environment you work in

In my job everybody takes the p!ss out of everyone else, if you can take it on the chin then it`s ok, if you let it bother you then you`ll become an easy target, me... i don`t give a sh!t, i give as good as I get

I don't disagree with Pa___ul or theory and gentle teasing about general things is OK. I'm talking about teasing someone about their appearance, the thing is Pa___ul although my friends teased in a 'loving' way, it unfortunately reinforced the comments that people had made in a cruel way. I'm not a sensitive soul by any means , in fact I'm a pretty tough cookie but when you take nearly twenty years of comments about your appearance by both friends and strangers you tend to take it to heart!
What I'm saying is, even though my friends meant me no ill will, they did not know how much their comments hurt me, if I said they were hurtful their response was 'I'm only teasing'. Hope this makes sense!
Shut it Big Nose!
-Who you calling Big Nose, Big Nose?
Generally workplace rules today are:

If you are teased about your ginger hair, being short, being tall or just plain odd (i.e. having a regional accent) - this is called bullying in the workplace

If you are teased about big breasts, small breasts or being a virgin (as happened to my mum) - this is sexual harassment in the workplace

All the above, plus many many more will be covered in some way by current legislation and employment law, so anybody could fall foul of it, no matter how unintentional it might be even between friends. It is how it is received that counts. Admittedly this seems to be mostly by high earning women in the finance sector who sue their bank employers for squillions of spondoolees, because they were told they would "look nice in a bikini" etc.

Fortunately I am a tall dark handsome high achiever with renounced pronunciation so 'ner'.
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Question Author
Do you think the media may be partly to blame with this raised ideal of prizing beauty and conformity and ridiculing any deviation from the 'ideal'. Take the TV show, Ugly Betty; do you think if you don't conform to a companie's visual ideal then you're more likely to be overlooked for promotion, or that you'd simply have to work harder to stand out from the crowd?

What about Receptionists? A lot of Executive males in companies would have a preference for an attractive woman on the reception desk so that the first customer contact gives an attractive representation of the company.
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People don't have to look like movie stars to get or keep their jobs. Having a clean appearance, practicing good hygiene and having a pleasant demeanor go a long way.

It's never acceptable to tease others; only the coward and insecure does that
Lighten up society! I was only quoting a film which actually served to highlight the ridiculous nature of the insult, in that the reply to somebody being called bignose was to call the other person something back. In this case it was the same as had been directed at him, thus showing the futility in name calling pointing out that we all have our own faults, or to coin a phrase from later on in the film, "We're all individuals!"
I couldn't go out with a girl who didn't affectionately tease me.
Teasing and bullying are very different. I wouldn't do it if I wasn't sure of the result. I think it's a sign of affection between friends, and if I ever didn't like what they said I would say, and then they wouldn't do it again!

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