The Grumpy Giraffe

Critiques on social and education issues

Why lookism won’t die, and coat hangers [NSFW]

We constantly hear people talking about how it is unfair when we racially discriminate. It’s unfair to pay an Asian immigrant lower than a Caucasian if their qualifications are the same, and they are applying for the same job. It is unfair that an Asian needs to score 140 more points on the SAT to be considered the same “quality” as a Caucasian student.

Protesters wave signs and march down the street as they protect their ethnic group.

And it’s true. It is completely unfair to pay someone based on how they look, particularly parts that they were born with, like skin colour.

Or how big their breasts are.

Some restaurants, like Hooters and the Breastaurant, are definitely not your typical family diners. The food isn’t the key here; it’s the service. Or rather, the women who fulfill the services for the largely male clientele.

carLike this car girl, girls who work at Hooters and Hulk Hogan’s Breastaurant are paid based on how they look, how much they weigh. There has already been a lawsuit where Hooters threatened to fire a girl from her job for being too fat.

When I first read the article, I had to side with the company. Obviously the girl knew the core principles of the restaurant (if it can be called that, considering food is not their priority) and her contract. She knew that they only hired females who looked young and sexy, which includes having a C or D cup (C being generous from the manager). She knew that she can’t be “too fat” for the restaurant, and now the restaurant has dubbed her as “too fat”, which technically breaches her contract. So what was the problem?

This lawsuit is only a small manifestation of a greater terror.

We constantly bash those who pay less to coloured people and immigrants because they aren’t pale enough. Or, sometimes, you may have a company who wants to pay more to immigrants because they look seductively exotic. Or it adds that drop of diversity in their company that may have a strong concentration of pale-skinned people.

Regardless, employers are willing to, and usually do, pay more or less depending on looks.

This is lookism.

When we harp on the people who pay different amounts to people of different skin colour, do we consider those who hire girls based on their cup size? Sure, the difference in this situation is that these girls are willing to sign these contracts. They are willing to be vulnerable and constantly judged on a patriarchal standard of beauty.

Then this leads to modelling. Is modelling considered unethical too? Does it infringe on gender rights? Modelling is being paid for how you look, and quite obviously, the closer you are to conventional standards of beauty (i.e. round eyes, long lashes, pale and smooth skin, pointed chin (aka elf’s face), aka looking young), the higher you’re paid.

In a sense, it is supply and demand with society.

Yes, it is ethical to fight for those who are oppressed by this salary difference in skin pigmentation. But when we condone “pay for looks” in places such as Hooters, or entire industries, like modelling, we are setting a double standard.

And do we need models? Do we actually?

Fashion models are essentially walking coat hangers. Why are we so obsessed with how the hanger looks? Are we wearing said hanger? Do we get to keep Kate Moss along with the dress she wears?

Not only is the salary-lookism salary unfair (Moss earns $9.2 million per annum), it also sets negative social standards of beauty. Moss is known for her size 0, but when the peasant girls (i.e. us) are size 0, we are called “flat”. Moss is ranked 9th in Maxim’s Top 50 Sexiest Women of 1999 despite her plank figure.

I digress, but the point is that if we ignore places that pay for looks, such as Hooters, what difference is there from condoning salaries by skin colour? Lookism will never die.

The modelling industry is a side rant, but it is also worth pondering about.

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3 comments on “Why lookism won’t die, and coat hangers [NSFW]

  1. Pretentiously Modest
    January 14, 2013

    Models represent someone elses work. If we concentrate on fashion models, they are here to represent what the designer had in mind. So I’d say – yes, they are needed. But don’t forget not all models earn as much as Kate Moss or such, most of them are paid very low or nothing at all and the job is not as easy as it seems. Also, not all of them look the same. Every designer has his or her own idea in mind. Compare Kate to Lily Cole or Daisy Lowe, for example. The difference is obvous. There isn’t only one type of models, not even one type of fashion models.

    About Hooters – I know there are “flat” girls working there (search YouTube, I think that’s where I saw them) and even the girl from the link you provided doesn’t seem like a C to me, but I don’t know if it’s just an exception to the rule. And, no, this is not an attempt to defend firing someone for their weight.

    We don’t choose what we were born with. I know I’m probably going to be paid less for being a woman and I won’t be surprised if someone orders me to dye my hair black, so the workplace could look more multicultural. I won’t be surprised at all, but I won’t be fine with it. Not one bit.

    • The Grumpy Giraffe
      January 14, 2013

      The point I was trying to criticize is that we feel the need to please others. Personally, I feel it’s degrading to oneself to modify oneself to conform to anyone else’s needs. In a sense, it’s unethical to the model as a human being.

      Moreover, you are correct in saying that there is not only one type of model. As you say, most don’t make a lot. Is the sacrifice worth it? Some models are 15 and earning barely crumbs.

      In this post, I am trying to bring into focus that yes, there are uses to having models. They are not completely useless. However, it is important to ask if these benefits outweigh the consequences to the public and to the model.

  2. sofiasiberia
    January 14, 2013

    That’s a wonderful post! So wit, true and to the core!
    I myself thought of writing a post named “Why do we stare at foreigners and women”, as a way of discrimination by looks..
    You are a very insightful person! I’m glad I discovered your blog!

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2013 by in society and tagged , , , , , , , .

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