Appearance Discrimination In The United States

942 words - 4 pages

Discrimination based on appearance is a severe inequity and its impact is often more invidious than we can presume. Although it is not the most severe form of bias, the costs and disadvantages associated with appearance may necessitate some legal remedy or other societal response. Unfortunately, current legal frameworks are limited in prohibiting appearance discrimination and those established are so often ineffective. Government therefore does not have the means to mandate a change to this injustice. Yet, a reform for discrimination based on appearance remains imperative. The following will explain why appearance discrimination should be unlawful in the United States and why there is little that the government can do to alleviate the problem.
Appearance has a great influence on employment, income, self-esteem, and in relationships. It is the nature of humanity to be opinionated of others as a result of their outward appearance. However, the problem arises when this bias conflicts with meritocratic ideals. In a comparison to other forms of discrimination, national surveys illustrated increased percentages of 12- 16 where workers reported that they have been subject to appearance-related discrimination (Rhode 102). Employers have justified appearance discrimination by insisting that the process of hiring is limited to prohibit only discrimination on the bias of a physical attribute that is difficult or impossible to change, such as height and facial features. This terminology is separated from sex, race, and ethnicity, which are often regarded as identity characteristics in most discussions and policies concerning discrimination. Discrimination towards those criteria is unlawful under federal and state edicts as congress and courts have come to recognize that the most effective way of combating prejudice is to deprive people of the option to indulge it (Rhode 106).
People will always desire more beauty and their desires can never be completely controlled. Beauty is hardwired into the beholder, causing the view of physical attractiveness to often be unfair. Though fashion and grooming are volunteer characteristics, they and the factors based least comparatively beyond an individual’s control have proven to become problematic in the context of policies that concern discrimination. Deborah Rhode, author of The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law, elucidated this idea by saying, “Bias against the unattractive seems most unjust when it involves features that people cannot readily alter” (Rhode 109). Banning appearance discrimination is justified by such discrimination which offends principles of equal opportunity and personal liberty. Prejudice based on bias of physical characteristics averts from those of merit and performance and is a barrage of unworthy assertions. In addition, appearance related preconception reinforces group relegation. Consequently, some decisions based on appearance improperly restrict self-expression...

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