Appearance: Discrimination Based On Physical Appearance

A very widespread type of discrimination based on the reign of appearances and the superficial.

As we move into the 21st century, a greater sensitivity to the dynamics of discrimination against certain population groups develops.

This fact, added to the increasingly unstoppable “empire of the image” in which the value of people is related to their aesthetics, has given way to the emergence of a new concept: aspectism.

What is aspectism?

The term “aspectism” is a translation of the word l ookism , and it is discrimination based simply on aesthetic grounds.

It is a form of invisibility of certain people that, in addition, can be based on the most unpredictable aesthetic criteria. For example, it can go against people who are not tall, against people who regardless of their physique dress in a certain way, or with people who do not fit a class of beauty rigidly marked by a very specific trend.

In fact, regardless of the degree of intensity of its damaging effects, aspectism is considered to be one of the most widespread forms of discrimination on the planet, and it has a devastating effect on self-esteem but also on living conditions in general.

The effects of aspectism

The aspectism is especially harmful because it acts practically automatically, and is often beyond the control of people. The personal image of someone is something that is captured instantly, with a simple glance. It does not require any effort or dedicate time to make it a goal to study the appearance of others, but it is captured spontaneously.

This means that, once a social dynamic has been created in which personal appearance is decisive, this discriminatory bias occurs in all facets of life.

Just as in the case of discrimination against, for example, homosexuals does not occur instantly until the sexual tendency of the person is known, it is aspectism that shows its influences from minute zero in which visual contact is established. That is, in most of the social interactions that an average person establishes in a day.

But, also, another effect of appearanceism is that it is complemented by the halo effect.

The halo effect

The halo effect is a psychological phenomenon by which a specific characteristic of someone determines whether we will judge in a more positive or negative way the rest of their characteristics and, ultimately, the person as a whole.

For example, people with a personal image that is considered neat, elegant or attractive can benefit from the halo effect both in their personal relationships and even when looking for work, since some recruiters will tend to think that these candidates are more social, creative, etc.

Thus, because of the intersection between aspectism and the halo effect, not only is appearance considered to be very relevant and tells us about the value that a person has, but it is also assumed that the other qualities of that person they are also very good and desirable.

Faced with this disadvantage, people with less socially valued aesthetic characteristics are increasingly cornered and with less room for maneuver in many areas of their lives.

Fighting this type of discrimination

Currently, English-speaking societies, and especially the American one, are the area in which the most effort is made to combat aspectism.

The workplace is where most efforts are concentrated, since keeping people out of the job market based on criteria based on aesthetics can be very harmful not only for individuals, but for the entire society in general. That is why it is increasingly required to request only  resumes without a photo, so that it can be selected in the most equitable way possible without relying on superficial characteristics.

However, it is very difficult to deal with aspectism, because it is seldom clear that it is discriminated on the basis of image. On the other hand, companies can come up with excuses to fire people because of their physique, something that is tried to prohibit through the creation of laws.

Avoid inequality through culture

In any case, it seems clear that part of the battle against discrimination should not be legal, but cultural, and it is necessary to educate and educate ourselves in the value of equality. 

This, however, is not easy when there is a great advertising and propaganda machine that reaffirms the validity of absurd beauty canons, an elegant and non-strident wardrobe and, in general, an image close to the average in practically everything (of In fact, the faces considered the most attractive are those that have many physical characteristics located in the statistical mean in terms of size and proportions).

For all this, it is necessary to work in coordination to create more inclusive cultures in which the canons of beauty do not constrain our  self-esteem or our personal, work and economic freedom.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *