It shouldn’t come as a surprise that interest in cosmetic treatments, both surgical and non-surgical, is surging, largely because we’re part of that movement. I’m a board-certified plastic surgeon, and you’re reading this on my blog. But I’ve also cited lots of other sources in recent posts who’ve reported the same news. And here’s another: One in three Americans is considering undergoing a cosmetic treatment sometime over the next year, according to a recent report from RealSelf, the online cosmetic treatment marketplace.
What struck me even more was that nearly half (43%) said they’re motivated by a desire to improve their self-esteem and confidence. And 26% said their desire stemmed specifically from “wanting to appear youthful at work” or “looking for or starting a new job.”
Woke as we’re becoming as a society, ageism in the workplace remains a prevalent concern. And not just for women. In a recent post, I highlighted a number of procedures that are on the rise among early-middle-age men as a means for them to remain relevant in their work. Within the next year, millennials will comprise half the workforce in the United States, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. And in another 10 years, it’ll be up to 75%.
Suddenly in the minority, it’s only natural that those who aren’t millennials could feel that much more vulnerable.
‘It’s really about restoring confidence’
Nancy DellaRocco, 54, an executive for Harvard Business School, is someone who spends a lot of time in front of people, public- speaking and pitching executives. But her confidence began eroding in her thirties, when she started losing her hair. In time, she started to think that people were too distracted by her receding hairline to truly hear anything she was saying.
“You’re used to seeing men with male-pattern baldness, but there’s such a stigma when you’re a woman,” she told the financial news site, Moneyish. “I was going to meetings and leading presentations—and I needed my hair! It sounds like a vanity thing, but it’s really about restoring confidence.”
Following a hair transplant, DellaRocco’s self-esteem rebounded in abundance. “I’m running 120 programs a year with over 11,000 executives from around the world, and doing media online, and I’m feeling really good about myself and my job.”
Attractiveness matters, after all
All the traditional benchmarks remain in play for prospective new hires—work experience, a strong resume, marketable skills, and a magnetic personality—but new research also indicates that attractiveness is much more of a factor than most have been willing to let on.
For example, a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University discovered that people with successful nose jobs appear more attractive, more successful, and healthier to other people than they did before their surgery. “While we are not suggesting that [a nose job] is the only way to improve one’s appearance, improving our attractiveness and health as compared to others conveys a competitive advantage,” writes Dr. Lisa Ishii, one of the study’s lead authors.
Other studies have shown that obese candidates are less likely to be hired or promoted than their peers with healthy bodyweights. Researchers have also exposed a clear connection between attractiveness and income, with people who are considered good-looking earning as much as 22% more than their “average”-looking counterparts.
The takeaway here is that a crisis of confidence, particularly when it’s rooted in one’s career, is not baseless. Maybe a cosmetic treatment isn’t the answer for you. But that doesn’t mean you need to accept your life for what it is. Confidence is a funny thing. It can return as quickly as it disappeared. But the longer it goes ignored, the harder it becomes to restore it.