The Citibank executive
who was shown the door for being too sexy. The 132-lb. Hooters waitress
who was told she was overweight and put on probation. And most recently -- and shockingly -- the regulations for prospective American Apparel employees
. And we quote:
More rules for new candidates:
-- include a close-up of the face AND a clear, well-lit head-to-toe shot
-- stand far enough away so that you don't get a fisheye effect; use the zoom to capture the subject
-- details are important; make sure you capture as many as you can
Each of these events has highlighted an ugly truth that likes
to lurk in the shadows: Being a pretty woman, or an attractive man, will get you more -- at the office, and in life.
We're talking more money, a better job, more Facebook friends, more IRL friends, more free coffee (seriously, those baristas hand it out to the hotties), and not having the looks can leave you in the dust. Or, as has recently come to light, the unemployment line.
And in that case, a new book by a lawyer specializing in gender issues suggests you sue.
In fact, Deborah L. Rhode's "The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law
" attacks that particular can of worms with gusto. As the lawyer and Stanford professor explains, "Conventional wisdom understates the advantages that attractiveness confers, the costs of its pursuit, and the injustices that result."
Rhode goes on to argue that legislators should respond to this discrimination (e.g., against unattractive women and/or short or bald men) with as much conviction as they do rape, domestic violence or unequal pay.
"Compared with other inequities that the women's movement has targeted, those related to appearance have shown strikingly little improvement," she notes. "In fact, by some measures, such as the rise in cosmetic surgery and eating disorders, our preoccupation with attractiveness is getting worse."
Although the Citibank exec who was directed to tone it down and the Hooters server who was directed to slim down are very different situations -- in both setting and scenario -- they point to the same questions: Should businesses be allowed to promote their "image" by hiring people who fit it? When does the pursuit of pretty become discriminatory? And where do you draw the line? Think: not-so-easy-on-the-eyes prima ballerinas or Hollywood starlets.
It's a thorny question, to be sure: Are looks a fact of life, and beauty to be admired? Or do we, as a society, discriminate unfairly against unattractive women and men?