Is beauty the key attribute for success?

Should the leaders’ wives – each deploying their own kind of erotic capital – guard against unleashing a surfeit of it? Isn’t that what dashed Sarah Palin’s dreams of presidency? “No,” snaps Dr Hakim. “I think that was her being a bit dim.”


An academic who identified the key professional attribute to success tells Celia Walden why appearances are so important.

Leaders in erotic capital … Kate Moss and David Beckham.

  • Leaders in erotic capital ... Kate Moss and David Beckham.
  • US president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the  inauguration ball.
  • Matinee idol good looks and serious talent ... George Clooney,  pictured with girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis.
  • Top TV executive Elisabeth Murdoch, pictured here in 2007.
  • Millionaire philanthropist Arpad Busson was once married to Elle  MacPherson. They are pictured here in 2005.
  • Americian Idol judge Simon Cowell.

An academic who identified the key professional attribute to success tells Celia Walden why appearances are so important.

We think of “capital” as something you save up for a rainy day; something inert and intangible, which, invested in the right way, can wield enormous power. There is nothing erotic about “capital” – or rather, there wasn’t until this month, when a doctor of sociology at the London School of Economics identified “erotic capital” as being the key professional attribute of our times.

According to Dr Catherine Hakim’s controversial article in the European Sociological Review, this “beauty premium” can have as big an impact on your career as your educational qualifications or background – particularly in the private sector and service industries. Those possessing “erotic capital” can expect to earn 10-15 per cent more than those without it.

Obvious? Not necessarily. It is an elusive commodity, ownership of which is not defined by gender, age or conventional physical beauty. And the best news? If you’re not born with it, you can learn to have the EC factor.

“Nowhere except in our puritanical, Anglo-Saxon culture do people see looking good as superficial,” says the well-turned-out professor. “In Britain, beauty is deemed naturally worthless, and therefore one can denigrate it, but elsewhere people are open about enjoying looking at attractive men and women.” Christianity, she explains, which has traditionally always been anti-sexuality, anti-beauty and anti-pleasure, is only partly responsible. Leer más “Is beauty the key attribute for success?”