Does your appearance give you an unfair advantage over others?
Make no mistake, there are many types of privileged groups in the world. There are people who are thriving more easily in society than others due to the favor that their social standing gives them. There are people who have easier lives based on how the world perceives them. I believe this includes being what society might deem “attractive.”
Recently in the news an airport worker was fired for handing a passenger a note that said “you ugly.” People found it to be funny, but I was thinking to myself was the joke worth it? What if that seemingly innocent joke made that passenger decide to end his life? What if the day had been so awful that was the thing that brought them to their breaking point. Some say that the world is just too sensitive, but I believe that the world is just starting to understand mental health. I’m concerned about society when someone would even think that was OK to do to another person. The story can be found here https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/airport-worker-fired-giving-passenger-ugly-note-65033518
I remember growing up and thinking I was an ugly child. My best friends at the time were mostly light skinned and were “pretty”. I remember not feeling pretty and I remember feeling like I was passed up because I wasn’t as attractive. I remember the impact that not being seen as attractive had on me at even 6 or 7. I knew then that my look was not the desired look. The funny thing about it is now that I am older, and I look at my pictures I realized I’ve looked the same my whole life. Being treated as if I were ugly made me believe that it was true. I don’t think I actually thought I was attractive until I was about 17.
I believe that societal pressures are a big reason that people are getting more and more cosmetic surgery. Women all over the world do things every day to enhance their looks even if it is something like wearing makeup (which I do). I believe that now more than ever social media has made people overly conscience of their appearances. Some people go on diets that might negatively impact their health. Some people would argue that they are doing it for themselves and not for anyone else (and I’m sure that is the case at times), but we know that it is also often done to look a certain way and as a result benefit socially or financially.
When we think of privilege do, we ever think of being “pretty?” Is there a privilege to having the standards that society has proclaimed “pretty?”
I asked a few of my friends what they thought, and to my surprise they said no. They do not believe that women who are more attractive have an advantage. This surprised me because. I see a lot of envy and hate over appearance and a constant need to outdo or be better than one another. I’m not dragging these women. I understand the motivations, feelings, and reasons.
I’ve recently watched numerous videos of women who have been burned, had acid thrown on them, and who have been disfigured. They all said the same thing. Every woman said that society was cruel to her because she did not seem to fit in to the standard that society thought was attractive. In one video I watched a man say that he attacked women with acid because he knew that it would ruin their souls because women value their faces so much, that it burns them deep into their souls.
I had to sit and think about it for a while. The idea of hurting someone physically because they know that the physical is deeply connected to the mental means that our mind body and spirit are connected. What harms one harms all.
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with wanting to change how you look on the outside. I change my hair almost every week. I like the idea of expressing my inner feelings on the outside. I feel like showing my style helps to show my personality. I think the problem becomes when we feel that a person who does not fit into our perception of what they should convey on the outside causes us to be cruel.
So… are we supposed to feel bad for looking a certain way when it’s not our fault?
Absolutely not. I like my appearance because I look like my father’s mother. When I look in the mirror, I am reminded of my family traits. I think now that I’m an adult I also like my appearance because it took me a long time to learn how to like it. It shows my growth in accepting myself. What I can do (and what any other privileged group should take the time to do) is use any social advantage that I can to help another who many not as easily be heard.
The moral of the story is if your outer appearance gives you an advantage in society that’s OK, but don’t let your advantage only be an advantage to you. Think of those who are not so easily heard, accepted, or seen. Don’t be cruel to people, and don’t sit in silence while other people are cruel to people. Let them know we are friends, and that they can sit with us!