Project: “Lookism” and our society
May 29, 2011 § 2 Comments
“Lookism” is “discrimination or prejudice based on a person’s physical appearance”. The term was first introduced during the fat acceptance movement in The Washington Post magazine in 1978 by William Safire, an American columnist. People have always desired to become beautiful, and as lookism invaded our society, it influenced our lives in many different ways. In my ethnographic project, I will focus on how lookism has influenced our society and progress by researching to find answers to the questions regarding lookism.
Lookism is a big part of our personal lives. As lookism permeated into our culture, being ‘in fashion’ became a crucial factor to many people’s lives. People go above and beyond in order to buy the newest collection and spend their earnings on luxuries such as jewelry, heels and handbags in order to stay in the realm of fashion. The shopping spree revisits every season. Anorexia, a disorder of refusing food caused by the fear of becoming fat, became more prevalent. Being fat is no longer simply an indication for health problems. Obesity is a disability. Today, people associate as being fat with personality disorders such as temper issues. Jobs avoid hiring obese people; they say it is an indication of the little self-control that they have. The employment process became highly aware of appearance. Jobs such as clerical work expect the employees to be good-looking. The cultural expectations have changed dramatically in terms of size. Clothes meant to be sold to normal people were displayed on models of size zeros. Plastic surgery is taken in as a necessity in some parts of the culture in order to blend in with their peers and to succeed in their career. An article tells that parents are letting their children have plastic surgery so that they would not get bullied. Moreover, some people show addiction for plastic surgery because they are not fully satisfied with themselves after a trial of surgery and crave more difference from what they were born with.
In my opinion, I also think that age is related with lookism. Some go under nonsurgical plastic surgery such as BoTox in order to hide their wrinkles and look young. The society craves for fresh and young. Many employees are fired because they are ‘too old’ even when they are perfectly fit to perform their jobs. The notion that women should marry in their mid-twenties at the latest prevails in many different countries such as Russia and numerous countries in Asia.
Prioritizing beauty is not an original concept. Generations have implored for attractiveness, but the overall society’s perception towards it has intensified greatly. In respect to lookism, I find it curious that lookism mainly seems to apply to women and little with men. People do not seem to expect men to be wearing the latest fashion’s suits or shoes. The statistics between the percentage of men and women who had plastic surgery is 13% to 87% according to American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Is this because men are the people who establish the general brain of the society?