Maybe it’s Maybelline

This week’s discussion about beauty standards and body image made me think of an article I had read that raised the issue about the “burden of privilege” for being attractive.

Basically, the “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” kind of BS.

We briefly talked about how there’s a social bias toward people who are attractive. There have been studies showing that attractive people lead more successful lives in their career goals, personal relationships, political or economic endeavors, families, and the list goes on and on. (A lot of similar stuff has been said about people who are taller. Sadness.)

On the other hand, do all of us “normal folk” in turn have a deeply rooted dislike of people who are more attractive than us?

Samantha Brick seems to think so. In her article, she defends her physical appearance and says it’s unfair for others to despise the kinds of rewards and privileges she receives as an attractive woman.

Upon first reading, she reminds me of pulling a Regina George or Gretchen Weiners. Here we go, another woman thinking that her life is oh-so-tragic because she has more privilege and others hate her for it. Woe is me.

Then again, the entire piece is about how women pit themselves against other women and don’t support each other enough. This kind of animosity, she says, is based on physical attractiveness. This makes me re-think my reaction, especially from a sociological point of view.

Where I think Brick falls short in her piece is that it reaffirms the ideas of social beauty as a standard to reward or punish individuals. She also enforces the idea that women are naturally out to get each other, and that there is no support system in a feminist collective. However, these claims are totally untrue, or at least, a far-too-expansive sweeping generalization that doesn’t accurately portray how the world works.

By writing this piece to begin with, she’s showing that we as a society place value on physical beauty. And that this causes a problem, but maybe not the problem she’s concerned with. On her end, she doesn’t like being treated differently because of her looks. That’s all good and well. But her attack on changing this issue shouldn’t be saying that women hate her and they are the problem. Instead, it’s society’s issue to deal with.

Maybe it’s this kind of rejection of physical beauty (as Bricker faces by being “hated” by others) that needs to happen in order for society to stop placing value on attractiveness. When that kind of trait affects the quality of the individual’s life, that when there’s a problem. And from what we’ve learned in class about institutional sociological concepts, this school of thought is based in how we as a society place value on this trait of attractiveness. Addressing the fact that we have this disparity is only the first step in showing the invalidity of the thought, and is a start to changing this perception.

The problem Bricker brings up (effectively or otherwise) gets down to the root of a male-dominant society and its influence on the perception of females. And it for sure is something that we should discuss. I think Laci Green does  a little better of a job discussing the context of this issue, but I think we can all agree that this issue out there.

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