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The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law

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The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"It hurts to be beautiful" has been a cliche for centuries. What has been far less appreciated is how much it hurts not to be beautiful. The Beauty Bias explores our cultural preoccupation with attractiveness, the costs it imposes, and the responses it demands.

Beauty may be only skin deep, but the damages associated with its absence go much deeper. Unattractive individuals are less likely to be hired and promoted, and are assumed less likely to have desirable traits, such as goodness, kindness, and honesty. Three quarters of women consider appearance important to their self image and over a third rank it as the most important factor.

Although appearance can be a significant source of pleasure, its price can also be excessive, not only in time and money, but also in physical and psychological health. Our annual global investment in appearance totals close to $200 billion. Many individuals experience stigma, discrimination, and related difficulties, such as eating disorders, depression, and risky dieting and cosmetic procedures. Women bear a vastly disproportionate share of these costs, in part because they face standards more exacting than those for men, and pay greater penalties for falling short.

The Beauty Bias explores the social, biological, market, and media forces that have contributed to appearance-related problems, as well as feminism's difficulties in confronting them. The book also reviews why it matters. Appearance-related bias infringes fundamental rights, compromises merit principles, reinforces debilitating stereotypes, and compounds the disadvantages of race, class, and gender. Yet only one state and a half dozen localities explicitly prohibit such discrimination. The Beauty Bias provides the first systematic survey of how appearance laws work in practice, and a compelling argument for extending their reach. The book offers case histories of invidious discrimination and a plausible legal and political strategy for addressing them. Our prejudices run deep, but we can do far more to promote realistic and healthy images of attractiveness, and to reduce the price of their pursuit.

Review:

"Beauty is in the eye of the job-holder, evidently. Referencing Plessy v. Ferguson (the 1896 Supreme Court decision affirming 'separate but equal' racial policies) is proven more than apropos in Rhodes' riveting overview of the ways in which appearance impacts hiring practices and job qualifications, in both overt and subtle ways. Legal or illegal is often beside the point when it comes to cases like those she surveys, though there are civil rights issues that immediately spring to mind for scholars in this field. The author's own experience with appearance expectations in the seemingly egalitarian world of academia notwithstanding, most of the cases and examples she provides are unfortunately not surprising. Covering a range of social classes, and tackling issues ranging from weight bias to the legality of forcing a college professor to change hairstyles, the book raises issues that will be debated for years to come. Rhodes argues that in jurisdictions with provisions protecting individuals from appearance-related discrimination in the workplace, the courts are not clogged with cases, contrary to the assumption of critics. Rhodes' analysis includes many new cases for the edification of students and readers interested in law, sociology, or business." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)

Synopsis:

Beauty may be only skin deep, but the damages associated with its absence go much deeper. Unattractive individuals are less likely to be hired and promoted, and are assumed less likely to have desirable traits, such as goodness, kindness, and honesty. Three quarters of women consider appearance important to their self image and over a third rank it as the most important factor. Our annual global investment in appearance totals close to $200 billion.

The Beauty Bias explores our cultural preoccupation with attractiveness, the costs it imposes, and the responses it demands. Deborah Rhode describes the social, biological, market, and media forces that have contributed to appearance-related problems, as well as feminism's difficulties in confronting them. The book also reveals why it matters. Appearance-related bias infringes fundamental rights, compromises merit principles, reinforces debilitating stereotypes, and compounds the disadvantages of race, class, and gender. Yet only one state and a half dozen localities explicitly prohibit such discrimination. The Beauty Bias provides the first systematic survey of how appearance laws work in practice, and a compelling argument for extending their reach. The book also offers case histories of invidious discrimination and presents a plausible legal and political strategy for addressing them.

"Provocative. Rhode is at her most persuasive when arguing that in the United States, the penchant to discriminate against unattractive women (and also short men) is as pernicious and widespread as bias based on race, sex, age, ethnicity, religion, and disability. She provides overwhelming evidence of bias against the overweight, the unattractive, and the aging."

--Dahlia Lithwick, Newsweek

"This is a well-researched and thoughtful exploration of beauty ideals in legal, professional and other hard-hitting real-life spheres. A serious contribution to the literature of the politics of appearance."

--Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth

About the Author

Deborah L. Rhode is the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and the Director of the Center on the Legal Profession at Stanford University. She has a Yale BA and JD, and is a former law clerk of Justice Thurgood Marshall, a former president of the Association of American Law Schools, a former chair of the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession, and a former director of both Stanford's Center on Ethics and its Institute for Research on Women and Gender. She is the author or coauthor of twenty books, including In the Interests of Justice (OUP 2003), Access to Justice (OUP 2004), and Ethics in Practice (OUP 2003), and over 200 articles, and is the nation's most cited scholar on professional responsibility.

Table of Contents

Preface

1. Introduction

The Personal Becomes Political: The Trouble With Shoes

The Costs and Consequences of Appearance

Surveying the Foundations: Social, Biological, Economic, Technological, and Media Forces

Feminist Challenges and Responses

Appearance Discrimination: Social Wrongs and Legal Rights

Legal Frameworks

A Roadmap for Reform

2. The Importance of Appearance and the Costs of Conformity

Definitions of Attractiveness and Forms of Discrimination

Interpersonal Relationships and Economic Opportunities

Self- Esteem, Stigma, and Quality of Life

Gender Differences

The Price of Upkeep: Time and Money

Health Risks

Bias

3. The Pursuit of Beauty

Sociobiological Foundations

Cultural Values, Status, and Identity

Market Forces

Technology

The Media

Advertising

The Culture of Beauty

4. Critics and Their Critics

Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Critics

The Contemporary Women's Movement

Critics

Responses

Personal Interests and Political Commitments

Beyond the Impasse

5. The Injustice of Discrimination

Ensuring Equal Opportunity: Challenging Stigma and Stereotypes

Challenging Subordination Based on Class, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Disability, and Sexual Orientation

Protecting Self-Expression: Personal Liberty and Cultural Identity

The Rationale for Discrimination and Resistance to Prohibitions

The Parallel of Sex Harassment

The Contributions of Law

6. Legal Frameworks

The Limitations of Prevailing Legal Frameworks

Prohibitions on Appearance Discrimination

A Comparative Approach: European Responses to Appearance Discrimination

The Contributions and Limitations of Legal Prohibitions on Appearance Discrimination

Consumer Protection: Prohibitions on False and Fraudulent Marketing Practices

Directions for Reform

7. Strategies for Change

Defining the Goal

Individuals

Business and the Media

Law and Policy

Product Details

ISBN:
9780195372878
Author:
Rhode, Deborah L
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Author:
Rhode, Deborah L.
Author:
null, Deborah L.
Subject:
Beauty, Personal -- United States.
Subject:
Women -- Legal status, laws, etc.
Subject:
Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice
Subject:
Civil Rights
Subject:
Gender & the Law
Subject:
Discrimination
Subject:
Beauty & Grooming - General
Subject:
Law | Law
Subject:
Society.
Subject:
Law | Law & Society
Subject:
Law-Legal Guides and Reference
Publication Date:
20100531
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
2 b/w illus.
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.30x5.50x1.10 in. .90 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Business » Business Law
Health and Self-Help » Psychology » General
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » Body Image
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Body Issues
History and Social Science » Law » Civil Liberties and Human Rights
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Law » Legal Guides and Reference
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Hobbies, Crafts, and Leisure » Beauty and Fashion » Beauty
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$8.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Oxford University Press, USA - English 9780195372878 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Beauty is in the eye of the job-holder, evidently. Referencing Plessy v. Ferguson (the 1896 Supreme Court decision affirming 'separate but equal' racial policies) is proven more than apropos in Rhodes' riveting overview of the ways in which appearance impacts hiring practices and job qualifications, in both overt and subtle ways. Legal or illegal is often beside the point when it comes to cases like those she surveys, though there are civil rights issues that immediately spring to mind for scholars in this field. The author's own experience with appearance expectations in the seemingly egalitarian world of academia notwithstanding, most of the cases and examples she provides are unfortunately not surprising. Covering a range of social classes, and tackling issues ranging from weight bias to the legality of forcing a college professor to change hairstyles, the book raises issues that will be debated for years to come. Rhodes argues that in jurisdictions with provisions protecting individuals from appearance-related discrimination in the workplace, the courts are not clogged with cases, contrary to the assumption of critics. Rhodes' analysis includes many new cases for the edification of students and readers interested in law, sociology, or business." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Synopsis" by , Beauty may be only skin deep, but the damages associated with its absence go much deeper. Unattractive individuals are less likely to be hired and promoted, and are assumed less likely to have desirable traits, such as goodness, kindness, and honesty. Three quarters of women consider appearance important to their self image and over a third rank it as the most important factor. Our annual global investment in appearance totals close to $200 billion.

The Beauty Bias explores our cultural preoccupation with attractiveness, the costs it imposes, and the responses it demands. Deborah Rhode describes the social, biological, market, and media forces that have contributed to appearance-related problems, as well as feminism's difficulties in confronting them. The book also reveals why it matters. Appearance-related bias infringes fundamental rights, compromises merit principles, reinforces debilitating stereotypes, and compounds the disadvantages of race, class, and gender. Yet only one state and a half dozen localities explicitly prohibit such discrimination. The Beauty Bias provides the first systematic survey of how appearance laws work in practice, and a compelling argument for extending their reach. The book also offers case histories of invidious discrimination and presents a plausible legal and political strategy for addressing them.

"Provocative. Rhode is at her most persuasive when arguing that in the United States, the penchant to discriminate against unattractive women (and also short men) is as pernicious and widespread as bias based on race, sex, age, ethnicity, religion, and disability. She provides overwhelming evidence of bias against the overweight, the unattractive, and the aging."

--Dahlia Lithwick, Newsweek

"This is a well-researched and thoughtful exploration of beauty ideals in legal, professional and other hard-hitting real-life spheres. A serious contribution to the literature of the politics of appearance."

--Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth

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