Sharon's Muse.... Let's chat over coffee while I ponder some things

About Me

My Meez


Recent Entries



Interesting Sites




In Stores

Watch mini trailer

Clip of places featured in Again

Need Flashplayer to view. Give time to load.


Short, Short Ebooks

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The issue of beauty

Several years ago, I wrote an article about lookism for Elan, noting that studies showed that good-looking people got better treatment in the workplace, the judicial system, and even in their own homes. That was not-so-surprising news in the 90s as studies and books came out emphasizing this new -ism to be dealt with. Time has passed on, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. Recent studies indicate an economic disadvantage for the less pulchritudinous among us. In other words, "ugly" folk earn less in all walks of life. (Slate)

Is this really newsworthy though? Actually, most of us already knew in our guts or from actual observation that attractive people get over all the time, although it sucks there is an economic penalty if you don't measure up in the looks department. Researchers posit that attractive people are assumed to be more competent in the workplace and therefore, earn more money. They also question whether these situations are simply a matter of attractive people having more self-confidence because they've been treated as special all their lives.

Personally, I can attest to this nexus between good looks and self-confidence. I remember the pretty girls in my first through third grade classes - (Carolyn Tucker and Pamela Owens; I can't remember anyone else's name from those years). They were always placed first in line going to recess, always called on for answers, always chased by the boys. They may or may not have been smarter, but because they were pretty, all of us in the class treated them as top-tier, including me, including our teachers, which definitely leveraged points in their favor in the form of easy A's. The less attractive of us learned our places soon enough.

One of the troubling areas of lookism is how it affects the political arena. It really shouldn't matter what a candidate looks like to a voter; after all the focus should be on the issues and the candidate's character. But politicians these days are almost packaged like Hollywood figures, which means looks matter. Already political pundits are claiming Obama has it over his less attractive contenders, because, unfortunately, voters can be swayed by a handsome face and smile.

Which begs the question: who determines who's attractive, since beauty is basically subjective? Scientists have sought to rationalize the beauty standard through measurement and ratios. Although there is probably something to the argument that beauty is actually just "perfect symmetry" which crosses gender and racial subsets. Even babies have been shown to respond positively to "attractive" faces, proving that on some level, beauty is also instinctual.

Racially, the American standard is still geared heavily toward the caucasian norm, but is slowly widening to include other racial characteristics. Still, many minority women, particularly black women, suffer psychological scars from not meeting this prescribed standard and sometimes take drastic steps to pursue racial ambiguity.

In 2005, New York Magazine sought to define beauty on its own terms and featured the pictorial below of New Yorkers of various ages and different walks of life. Not trying to determine beauty by preset standards, the editors instead displayed the diversity of features and personalities in their subjects, providing a spectrum of beauty that is wider than that often featured in the media. Which shows that beauty, in the end, is a mosaic of varied features and forms - and that's a good thing.

Labels: ,

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 3/07/2007 08:01:00 PM Permanent Link     | | Home


Layout Design by Hajira Thanks to:Getty Images BlogspotBlogskins