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It’s Getting Ugly

August 31, 2011

In the August 28th,2011 New York Times, there was a very interesting article about how ugly people are discriminated against.

Ugly women are most often discriminated against when looking for a mate and men when looking for a job. Is this a surprise to anyone?  I think people have instinctively known this for centuries.  And, the truth is that we all subconsciously “discriminate” based on personal and subjective preferences when it comes to looks. We just do. Some folks like blondes – others brunettes or redheads. The article argues that ugly people deserve to fall under federal affirmative action laws that offer legal protection to racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women and handicapped individuals. It is further argued that ugly people would be allowed to seek help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and other agencies in overcoming the effects of discrimination.

I’m not getting into the politics of this proposal but, what I do want to know, just who is going to tell someone “you’re ugly, therefore you deserve special consideration?” Would there be special panels established to determine whether or not someone falls under a governmental guideline of attractiveness?Does this possibility sound in any way cruel to anyone other than me?

Standards of beauty vary across cultures and there is no one standard. I remember being startled the very first time I encountered an Australian Aborigine. Fortunately for both of us, she did not see me reflexively flinch as her looks were so very different from anything I’d ever seen. Yet, within her own people – she was probably a beauty. According to the NYT article, however, she might be eligible to fall under legal protection should she move to the U.S. to seek employment.

I mean – how do you determine who is ugly? It’s not like an obvious physical impairment, like being confined to a wheelchair or being a certain gender or age.  No one can argue with those objective differences. But – your looks?  If you watch people, you’ll see lots of what you might consider “ugly” who have found someone who could also be considered “ugly” and yet they each consider the other to be “beautiful.” And, because they have someone who loves them as they are and for whom they are, they emanate a beauty often lacking in other, more “beautiful” people.

My personal opinion is that this category of the affirmative action law should never be allowed as it is
just too painful.  People who others might consider “ugly” don’t need to be reminded that they aren’t as attractive as a Hollywood star. In my personal experience some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met were some of the most objectively unattractive and some of the ugliest folks were objectively attractive. What “ugly” folks need more than being singled out is to be affirmed by those who love and care about them. Beauty does fade (have you ever met or heard of a struggling plastic surgeon?) and a beautiful inner light shining forth is what makes someone truly beautiful. And,categorizing certain people as “ugly” only perpetuates the external beauty stereotypes that exist in all cultures even more so. The only antidote to discrimination against the “ugly” is for more folks – parents in particular – to recognize and affirm those postivive and eternal character qualities which make someone truly beautiful and not focus on or glorify external, superficial qualities that will eventutally be lost over time.

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