You’re fired.”), there’s really no way for people to tell why they’ve been treated badly.
These surveys might be measuring people’s willingness to attribute their failures to other people’s bigotry as much as they measure actual discrimination.
But our tolerance of appearance discrimination compounds that tendency and encourages a variety of unhealthy behaviors and trends.
Rhode rounds up the usual suspects to document our appearance obsession: Women’s anxieties about their looks often lead them into plastic surgery; those same anxieties make them easy prey for marketers of useless beauty products and weight-loss aids; women’s sports don’t get enough attention, and much of the attention they do get sexualizes the athletes; we focus way too much on female politicians’ fashion choices; the dolls we give little girls have physically impossible figures and are often dressed like whores; and so on.
But in thinking about As Rhode demonstrates, the social science is quite clear: Appearance, especially height in men and beauty in women, matters.
Studies of all kinds have come to the conclusion that good-looking people fare better than ugly people, even in situations where appearance is completely unrelated to the task at hand.In many cases, the discrimination is explicit, and most of the time, it’s legal.Businesses often seek to present a certain “brand” or “look,” and hire only people who fit in.To keep her analysis consistent with her dubious assertion, Rhode analyzes black women’s quest for light skin and straight hair, but she does not once mention white women’s love of tanning — a #ad#This thesis also gets her into trouble when, in a hilariously innumerate passage, she analyzes the results of the Miss America pageant. population is Jewish, meaning that even by random chance, you’d expect a Jewish winner only once every 50 years.She expects us to find it damning that only one Jew and four blacks have won in the pageant’s 75 years. Also, as she notes, blacks didn’t start entering the contest until 1970 — and as she doesn’t note, four winners in 40 years is 10 percent, just below blacks’ proportion of the population.Nonetheless, other, better measures (such as the Rhode argues that because we prohibit racial discrimination, we should prohibit other forms of discrimination that are equal in severity.However, racial discrimination was much more severe five decades ago when we actually acted against it; today, we mainly just keep tweaking the laws we passed then.To demonstrate this, she uses surveys that ask people whether they think they’ve been discriminated against.This is hardly the most scientific measure, because unless discrimination is explicit (Boss: “You’ve gained weight.And in her new book #ad#Of course, one’s opinion about anti-discrimination law depends a lot on one’s opinion about the role of government.Those who tend toward Paul’s view — even those who concede that the Jim Crow South was an extreme case and an exception — will not be sympathetic to Rhode’s thesis.