11 September 2013

An Ugly Policy

The galloping injustice of “lookism” has not escaped psychologists, economists, sociologists, and legal scholars. Stanford law professor Deborah L. Rhode’s 2010 book, “The Beauty Bias,” lamented “the injustice of appearance in life and law,” while University of Texas, Austin economist Daniel Hamermesh’s 2011 “Beauty Pays,” recently out in paperback, traced the concrete benefits of attractiveness, including a $230,000 lifetime earnings advantage over the unattractive.
Still, the issue has generated few serious solutions. Though to a surprising degree, we agree on who is attractive and who isn’t, differences in looks remain largely unmentionable, unlike divisions of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation. There is no lobby for the homely. How do you change a discriminatory behavior that, even though unfair, is obviously deep, hard to pin down, and largely unconscious—and affects people who would be hurt even to admit they’re in the stigmatized category?
Tentatively, experts are beginning to float possible solutions. Some have proposed legal remedies including designating unattractive people as a protected class, creating affirmative action programs for the homely, or compensating disfigured but otherwise healthy people in personal-injury courts. Others have suggested using technology to help fight the bias, through methods like blind interviews that take attraction out of job selection. There’s promising evidence from psychology that good old-fashioned consciousness-raising has a role to play, too.

Well, I suppose this is one way to drive Hooters out of business.

This whole business of lookism is too stupid to take seriously, but it is characteristic of this modern age to find that lunacy is treated as profundity.  I do wonder, though, how anyone expects this to be implemented.

I mean, the only to say that you were discriminated against based on looks is to admit that you’re ugly, and even the most hideous land-whale will never let such an utterance escape from her lips.  You could argue that the one who was hired was prettier, and that might make for a solid case.  But, this leaves the problem of arguing that someone of presumably acceptable looks was discriminated against in favor of someone prettier.

Incidentally, this explains why HR requirements are so fucking stringent.  The whole point of having applicant requirements that no one can meet is to ensure that one has a reasonable case for disqualification.  You weren’t discriminating against the fatty applying for the job, they just didn’t meet the (impossible) requirements.  Of course, the attractive person who was hired didn’t meet the requirements either, but then no one needs to know that.

Thus, what will eventually happen is that companies will have even more stringent requirements for potential applicants so as to better shield themselves from potential lawsuits.  Ever notice how whenever more laws are created, only the lawyers profit?