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Fat Bald Guy Rule

Seems plausible:

The careers of these two coaches illustrate what I call the Fat Bald Guy Rule. The FBGR posits that, when considering otherwise roughly equivalent candidates for any job whose formal requirements don't include being good-looking, hire the fat bald guy. The reason is simple: Society gives all sorts of unearned preferences to good-looking people, so when a fat bald guy manages to assemble a résumé that at first glance resembles that possessed by his good-looking competition, the FBGR assumes that the former record is actually far more impressive than the latter, all things considered.
One assumes the effect would be even stronger for women.

March 11, 2006 | Permalink


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» Rules from Neurath's Boat
Matthew Yglesias mentions a rule which sounds quite plausible to me. Of course, anybody who looks at my picture in the corner will probably suspect I'm biased. [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 11, 2006 6:12:03 PM


Or black people. Or Hispanic people. This is essentially the philosophical underpinning of affirmative action.

Posted by: Greg | Mar 11, 2006 6:40:32 PM

Yeah, but what's the corrolary of "bald" for women? Oh, that's right. Unattractive and a bad dresser. And whereas there have been bald sex symbols (Patrick Stewart), there has never been an unattractive, badly-dressing female sex symbol. At least not since the advent of photography.

Posted by: Maureen | Mar 11, 2006 9:46:05 PM

Apparently you've never heard of Paris Hilton.

Posted by: Greg | Mar 12, 2006 2:30:28 PM

And whereas there have been bald sex symbols (Patrick Stewart), there has never been an unattractive, badly-dressing female sex symbol. At least not since the advent of photography.

Mae West?

Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Mar 12, 2006 7:22:15 PM

I'm halfway there! Now I just need to accelerate my hair loss.

Posted by: DonBoy | Mar 12, 2006 8:25:09 PM

Chemotherapy is pretty effective, DonBoy.

Posted by: apostropher | Mar 13, 2006 12:53:37 AM


Nice oxymoron, male or female, an unattractive person isn't a sex symbol. There are plenty of celebrities who dress like bums who still look great, so the "badly dressed" part is sort of irrelevant if you're attractive enough.

As for the fat bald guy rule, you'd want to know if he'd always been fat and bald or whether he'd only recently (after racking up the stellar resume) let himself go. I'm thinking Jon Favreau, who played the fat loser (Rudy), made himself buff and reasonably handsome for a few years (Swingers, Deep Impact) and then slid back down the attractivness hill (Daredevil).

Posted by: beowulf | Mar 13, 2006 2:49:09 AM

You missed the best part of the piece:

Examples of the FBGR can be found all over our image-conscious and media-driven culture. For instance, the essential difference between a ranting lunatic like Ann Coulter - who at a national GOP event last month gave a speech in which she referred to Arabs as "ragheads," and who has opined that "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity" - and the schizophrenic bag lady who wanders the downtown mall is that Coulter is equipped with a law degree and long glossy blonde hair.

Posted by: Crack | Mar 13, 2006 11:27:20 AM

On the other hand, the flip side of this argument is that, if you hire the fat bald guy, he's going to have a tougher time doing his job, getting respect, etc. To the extent that the job deals with perceptions, customer service, sales, etc., there are advantages to going along with societal prejudices even if you recognize them.

Posted by: Doug T | Mar 13, 2006 11:54:15 AM

Oh we all love pretty people. We like buying stuff from them, we like working with them, we like going out for drinks with them. So any company looking to hire is likely to be better off with the more attractive applicant - assuming job skills are similar to the competition.

The exception would be when likeability is important in the job. Attractive people can be intimidating and be perceived as self-involved. the jovial friendly fat guy or gal can seem more approachable and easy-going.

I've heard that Oprah is more popular among fans when she's fatter than when she's thinner.

Posted by: Hat | Mar 13, 2006 2:02:14 PM

I'll keep the FBGR in mind during this season's The Apprentice. The Donald just fired the hottest apprentice last night.

Posted by: C.J.Colucci | Mar 14, 2006 4:36:23 PM

What if the same rule applies when picking your deity? Maybe there's a market for portly Jesus crucifixes.

Posted by: yesh | Mar 17, 2006 5:02:54 PM

Always consult the fat bald guy when in need of service. We need to work harder to be liked, so often give better service than the smarmy fake good looking guy. I went to get a hard to find thingy at the parts store recently, I picked the bung eyed, fat bald guy, he got me the thingy, and gave me a discount. Maybe he was a gay, bung eyed, fat bald guy?

Posted by: Craig | Aug 16, 2006 5:08:07 AM

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