Liberals cite a multitude of academic studies that show the more attractive among us, those often referred to as the “beautiful people” tend to earn more money during their working years, are more likely to be financially successful, and are much less likely to be discriminated against on the basis of their appearance. Even without studies to prove it, many would just accept as common sense that the more attractive individuals are more likely to succeed. We have become a very vain society driven much more by how we look on the television set. We are more likely to vote for political candidates that we think are more attractive. We are given news readers on the television news programs, to look at reading the news, that are more “easy on the eyes.”
This issue was raised recently in a Boston Globe “Ideas” article titled “Who will fight the beauty bias.” The article summarized a number of studies and views about the issue and then considered the possible “solutions” to this alleged problem.
The article suggested some liberals will see this as a traditional civil rights problem implying affirmative action as a solution, “A number of scholars see it as fundamentally a civil-rights issue, with the unattractive a class of people who are provably and consistently discriminated against. It’s an idea that seems poised to resonate beyond the academy: A 2004 survey conducted by an economist and a legal scholar found more people reporting that they’d been discriminated against based on their looks than on their ethnicity.”
The article continued on this theme, “The Constitution forbids employment discrimination on the basis of things like race, sex, and religion, but only a few jurisdictions have tried to add appearance to the list, starting with the parts of appearance you can measure. The state of Michigan banned height and weight discrimination in 1977, and six municipalities, including Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, have followed suit with similar statutes. These laws haven’t led to a flood of frivolous suits, as libertarians might fear—in fact, they haven’t led to many suits at all, which suggests they aren’t doing much more than tackling the most egregious cases.”
Rush Limbaugh has discussed this issue, noting that in his view one of the roles of the feminist movement is to promote less attractive women, and other Rush has referred to the less attractive as “uglo-Americans” and has suggested in the past the left would call for anti-discrimination laws to protect “uglo-Americans.”
It would be tough to imagine that passing civil rights laws for “uglo-Americans” would be effective and really address the problem. Perhaps the solution is more simple and more rooted in common sense. As Dr. Martin Luther King called for people to be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skins, maybe that applies here too. We call for people to be judged by the substance of their character and the content of their competence in hiring and promotion and other personnel decisions, rather than their appearance.
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