Feminist Rocker

On Appearance-based Discrimination and Intersectionality

Appearance-based discrimination is probably the “elephant in the living room”, when it comes to dismantling the kyriarchy. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there doesn’t really seem to be a unified movement to end appearance-based discrimination.

I’m not that there aren’t people who care - since, evidently, there are a lot of us who do. I think the problem is, though, how do we determine who does or does not have “conventionally attractive privilege”? As much as many of us may be all about how it doesn’t matter how you look on the outside, what’s important is who you are on the inside - well, let’s face it! Nobody likes to be called “ugly”. Many of us would prefer to believe that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

I think the one major problem with having an appearance equality advocacy group is there there really is no clear division between those who are privileged and those who are marginalized. Also, when it comes to appearance-based discrimination, there are so many intersectionality issues to consider.

I’m gonna try to run down the list as best as I can:

* Sexism: Well, women are more disproportionately affected by appearance-based discrimination - since there is still the attitude that women have a sacred obligation to make themselves look attractive for other people, while men don’t quite have that obligation. On the other hand, though, men are also affected by appearance-based discrimination - especially the ones that don’t measure up to society’s standards of “manliness”.

* Fat-phobia: Well, the issue of weight discrimination definitely is a smaller portion of the bigger issue of appearance-based discrimination. A lot of “concern trolls” will dress up their hatred for fat people as “concern for their health” - when they don’t seem to feel as strongly about any other health-based issue. Even putting aside the issue of whether or not there is any correlation between weight and health, I think the reason why so many people have strong feelings about “obesity” is because they find fat people to be aesthetically displeasing to look at. So, yeah, this is definitely one aspect of appearance-based discrimination.

* Racism: Let’s face it. More often than not, the appearance ideal in our culture favours white people over any other race - sidelining those who are POC. There is definitely a huge worship of “blond-haired blue-eyed beauties” - which, of course, could not apply to POC. Sometimes, POC do get “exotic-fied” - but this is nothing more than “positive discrimination” and “objectification”.

* Able-ism: People with Down’s syndrome tend to physical traits that mark their condition - so, of course, they’re going to be affected by appearance-based discrimination. People with other visible disabilities are also affected by appearance-based discrimination.

This is a few, to start out with - but there are probably others that I’ve missed.

What do you folks think? What do you think would be the best way to create a movement to fight against appearance-based discrimination? Do you know of any movements that are dedicated to doing such?

  1. start-missing-everybody answered: I haven’t even heard of a consistently-accepted name for it, but I do remember reading a study suggesting it is the most powerful “ism”
  2. feministrocker posted this