In early February, there was a live TV battle between popular all-girl idol group AKB48 and a bunch of not so cute girls. The two sides got into a heated debate about whether people are judged by their looks or skills.
The AKB48 girls disputed the suggestion that someone would be judged solely on their looks (a couple of the girls even went as far as crying over the idea), but the “average looking” group, represented by slightly overweight teenagers with rather normal, but visible signs of puberty, had a different take—that they are always labeled as “losers” because of their looks.
But that program went on and was soon forgotten.
That is, until Nippon TV brought up the issue during its live variety program “Tokoro no me ga ten!” hosted by popular entertainer George Tokoro on Feb 19. Since then, the topic has become one of the most hotly debated issues online, according to J-Cast.
In order to come to a conclusion about whether people are indeed judged by their looks instead of their skills when applying for a job, the program producers organized a real experiment, where they recruited two models and two “regular” looking university students of both sexes and organized a job interview with three recruiting agents, without informing them about the experiment, J-Cast reports.
The results of the experiment were that in all cases, those who got the job were the models, not the university students.
In order to balance the results, the experiment was repeated several times with only male and only female recruiters, but the results were the same, says J-Cast.
“In Japan, of course, skills are important too,” says Osaka University professor Ikuo Oobo, “but it is normal for recruiters to give a thought about whether they can work in a good environment with the prospective employees.”
The program producers, however, were eager to see whether looks are indeed more important than brains and skills.
In order to prove that, they asked both the male and female models to purposely act ignorant and make embarrassing mistakes, such as saying “Our current Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama” (who resigned a long time ago), showing their lack of knowledge about current affairs and society.
However, that did not influence their prospects of getting the job either.
Since the program was broadcast, blogs and online commentaries debating the topic have kept on increasing. Surprisingly, many seem to agree that is the reality. “What is left for unattractive people, then, if studying hard gets them nowhere?” laments one.
Some comments even went as far as to suggest that Japan’s leaders should start undergoing plastic surgery and become like South Korea, a country where the practice among public officials and individuals is rather common.
On the other hand, some readers protested against the results of the experiment, J-Cast adds. “Are men who marry women only for their looks really happy and satisfied?” asked one. Another said: “Companies who hire people based on their looks will eventually end up losing a lot.”