The Boston Globe recently ran an article about “beauty bias.” The underlying concept is that people inevitably discriminate in favor of the beautiful and, in so doing, show bias against the less attractive among us. So, what to do about it?
One of the suggestions by “experts” is that we make homely people a protected class entitled to special legal protection, or require some form of “affirmative action.” The article makes it seems, at least, that these are serious suggestions propounded by serious people. Apparently, they don’t realize how ludicrous it would be to implement either of these proposals — and how stigmatizing.
Imagine walking into a job interview and getting rejected, and then bringing a “homely discrimination” claim. The first element of the claim, presumably, would be to prove that you’re not one of the beautiful people. Even if people wanted to self-identify as ill-favored — a dubious proposition, in my view — how would you prove that element? By comparison to a Hollywood start or supermodel? And how would you draw the line about who could bring a claim? Would simply plain people be eligible, or would that ability be reserved to only those who fall into the Wicked Witch of the West category?
Can’t we just take a deep breath before creating more legal “rights,” and recognize that people inevitably will look different in ways that favor some and disadvantage others? For example, studies show that people subconsciously attribute more leadership qualities to taller individuals. If you’re of below average height, should you get some form of compensation or the ability to make a claim if a taller man or woman is promoted rather than you?
This kind of effort is futile and, I think, ultimately counterproductive. People would do well to stop worrying about outward appearances and start thinking about how to let their inner beauty show.