Sylvia Dahlby, a “purveyor of talent acquisition, staffing management and recruiting business solutions” in Hawaii, commented below on our posts about “lookism,” beauty bias, appearance bias, and obesity.

Does appearance matter in hiring?

“Thanks for sharing this. In my opinion age and weight, and overall appearance are always a factor in hiring decisions – and maybe sometimes they need to be. Let’s face it, humans bring their personal prejudices into EVERY situation.

If I were in a health food store and the stock clerk who’s helping me pick out dietary supplements is morbidly obese, I would question this individual’s product knowledge and commitment to healthy living. The same is true if I were shopping at a fashion-forward trendy boutique and the sales person wasn’t chic enough for me to spend big bucks on pricey clothing. And would a teenager want to buy a video game from a granny that doesn’t even play them? Or would that same granny make a good game developer even if she had the coding skills?

Unless your physical fitness, age or appearance is part of the actual job description/requirements, why should it matter? I’ve even heard stories about “beautiful” people who feel discriminated against because of their looks – they feel nobody takes them seriously because they are so pretty. Appearance DOES MATTER in some jobs.

So does height & weight and physical fitness for SOME positions – the flight attendant has to FIT down the narrow aisle and reach the overhead bins. And the firefighter better be in tip top physical shape to meet the demands of the work.

It’s not possible to “level the playing field” to the extent we can take lawyers out of the equation – the best we can hope for is to inject some common sense and common courtesy into the dialog.”