(The following is a title for an article in today's online version of The New York Times)
The New York Times
Should the unattractive be given legal protection, like racial minorities?
I did not read the article above, you can if you would like the link is active for just such a possibility. What I did read was enough to irritate me this morning. The question below the title of the article "Should the unattractive be given legal protection, like racial minorities?".
This brings so many things to the forefront for me that it actually pissed me off enough I wanted to smoke BEFORE I wrote, but I am doing this first. Let me minimize my focus for a moment to just the words "the unattractive" I have to wonder, will it be the writer for this article that decides what that means… or perhaps the editor that checks the stories out before they are printed… maybe they will take a poll to see how many people's perceptions match up and use that as a scale for deciding what is "unattractive", then they can begin to have a base of judgmental assholes who are ready to provide legal protection to the "unattractive", or "ugly" as the line above it states.
Who decides what "ugly" or "unattractive" is? When you have decided, do the "ugly" and "unattractive" wear badges letting the rest of the world know they are such?
Okay, so now that the top layer of frustration has burnt off, let's peek inside the article and see what it actually says.
New York Times writer Daniel S. Hamermesh reported that there is a distinct advantage to being attractive, it "helps you earn more money, find a higher-earning spouse (and one who looks better, too!) and get better deals on mortgages" (2011).
Yeah, I suppose that's true, so what is it about this article that really makes me angry? It's the bottom line prejudices that become the pain of those people deemed "unattractive" from elementary school into adulthood. It's the weight that society puts on outer looks that determines who gets more, makes more, is more according to the societal twist on beautiful people. So how can implementing a law to protect (aka magnify) those people deemed "ugly" help?
Can you picture yourself with a group of sheeple running around hand-picking those who qualify? It reminds me of a book I read in college called "The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson. If you haven't read it and want to understand more, here's a link to the story online for free in the form of a pdf, it's from a university, so there are even questions at the end to consider if you want to take it that far. It is worth the read! The Lottery - By Shirley Jackson
This article is not the true crux of my frustration, it is how people learn to judge without thinking about anything in the first place. We are shown as little girls that certain clothes are "pretty", certain hairstyles are "cute" and that it is appropriate and expected to behave in a certain manner to remain attractive. But for what purpose? To attract the "right" man/mate? Who must also be held accountable to be within specific parameters for attractiveness. He must be a good provider, strong, protective, what else? Add your own adjectives to make the picture perfect, but the point is already made, it is a predetermined criteria that we are brought up to believe is "attractive" and we do so without even considering WHY we do it.
So now we have what I call the "trophies" and the "trophy hunters" and the rest of them (the people who do not fit into either category but MUST fit into some category). Businesses thrive on trophies, and trophy hunters! Look at all the clothing stores, beauty supply counters, and television shows that cater to this type of mentality. It saddens me, frustrates me, and at times brings out an exasperation that goes deeper than any skin product could begin to do.
I've met some beautiful people, who don't fit into this mold created for them, but are by far more beautiful than those who spend hours getting their hair just right, so that they can go out to dinner and pick apart their competition. People who start and end their days with a light around them, a warmth inside them, and a soul that shines so brightly it is difficult to ignore - That's the kind of person I see as "beautiful" from the inside out.
My hope is that there will be people who think for themselves when the mob mentality begins to form. People who will be strong enough to speak up when it makes a difference, and do so from a voice that is their own.
(Image of the mannequin above is courtesy of Morguefiles)