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?


§ 2 Responses to Project: “Lookism” and our society

  • ethnolust says:

    Looks like this will be an interesting project. I’d be curious to see how a lot of the things you’ve associated with lookism are linked to a number of the cultural processes like capitalism and others that have been discussed in class. Certainly, lookism has not developed because it is a “natural” way to divide and categorize–or is it?

    I look forward to seeing how you support these ideas and statements with ethnographic data. It will be an interesting project.

  • MrGreen says:

    Actually, i beg to differ. I DO think this attitude of “lookism” does profoundly affect men as well as women these days. Think about it. Yes, there is ALOT of pressure on women to be sure. But alot of this pressure is put on women by OTHER women! And most fashion is dictated by other women and gay men. MOST men are attracted to most women and dont care about the latest fashion. Women are inherently attractive to men. True, age may be more of a factor with women…but men are being put under the microscope more and more these days. And unlike women, its more about the face then the body. ANY guy can work out at the gym and sculpt his body….but does that mean women will instantly lust after him? Nope. But with women, if they take care of their body, they will get attention from ALOT of men even if their face is average. It is almost impossible to change your face. Most women reserve the lusting for men with handsome faces…so very few men relative to women experience this lustful attraction from women. Factor in that women are much pickier about what a man does for a living etc…and there is ENORMOUS pressure on men these days. Not complaining…just pointing out a fact. Men on the other hand arent as picky. On a superficial level, they dont care what a woman does for a living or how much she makes. This is biological. Women have a finite number of eggs, where as men have an infinite number of sperm…so women are therefore MUCH pickier. Its evolution. They want it all biologically. Othing against women. Its just nature. I think people dont talk about the pressure men feel, because we are still stuck on old perceptions. Men dont admit to these things, but trust me…they FEEL them. It takes very little for most men to lust after most women. But it takes ALOT for most women to lust after a man. A whole list of criteria.

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