Do The Ugly Face Unfair Discrimination?


I read this blog about a recent movement to stop “discrimination against the ugly” and found it fascinating.

It makes a reasonable point. There are protections for discrimination against gays, blacks, and women, so why should we still be allowed to exercise bias against the unfortunately asymmetrical people out there?

Your gut may say that women are judged unfairly for their looks, but that wouldn’t be the entire story. Says a related New York Post article: “Men, in fact, suffer the greater repulsiveness penalty in general: Unattractive women earn 3 percent less than average-looking women, while unattractive men’s take-home is reduced a whopping 22 percent.”

The question I have for you is whether you feel that you’re judgmental of others based on looks, age, height, weight, education, or income… and, just as importantly…have you been judged negatively for one of those other characteristics?

Your comments, as always, are appreciated.

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  1. 61

    Gawd yes. I’m in my 40’s now and am resigned to my life as an uggo. One of my earliest childhood memories was of a bus full of other third and fourth graders surrounding me on my ride back home to criticize and guffaw over each feature of my face–things I didn’t even know to be self-conscious about. It lasted what seemed like forever. Normally, I suppose, we forget about those kinds of experiences by the time we’re adults. I, however, couldn’t because the same judgments have been made of me, though not usually as openly cruelly, my entire life.

    It’s not just that being ugly deprives you of human companionship–whether romantic or platonic (who wants to look at an ugly face all the time?). It’s the other ways being ugly hurts you:  teachers may not want to hear from or even talk to you and graders may be biased against your work; officials who have great power over your life–like police officers–treat you very differently (there are published studies showing the effects of appearance on jurors…); health care workers don’t want to be around you, are less likely to take what you have to say seriously; many employers don’t want you on their team, even if you’re very qualified, simply because they don’t like you–don’t want to have to see you. Showing up to apply for an apartment? Yup, bias rears its head again. In countless competitive instances in which you otherwise have the advantage (you showed up first, you paid earliest, you meet or exceed all the qualifications and have more proven experience than others…), others’ unspoken biases deprive you of what you need. And the effects on confidence confound the relationship others typically assume between the development of confidence and life experiences.

    And gawd help you if, a lifelong ugly person, you enter your 40’s without being very wealthy or exceptionally talented so others perceive some kind of value in you. Otherwise, you’re relegated to the scrapheap to wait ’til your body finally gives out and you can be officially discarded–which, health studies now show, is significantly more likely for those who’re socially isolated and don’t have their very real needs for human companionship satisfied, though, of course, no one wants to recognize the way being remarkably ugly affects these dynamics.

    I’m almost tempted to believe in reincarnation and that being ugly is punishment for some heinous past life crime. Though few will talk openly about any of this (not because they are ashamed to admit what’s obvious, but rather because our society won’t ALLOW people to be honest about their negative experiences), there are many online forums where fellow uggos relate the hell they live day after day. The irony is that despite being patently judgmental about and frequently cruel to the ugly, despite demanding the freedom to treat them as we want (within the bounds of the law), many of us have the temerity to insist there’s no need for protective legislation for a group we go back and forth between mercilessly hounding or equally painfully ignoring.

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