Week in Review 1/29-2/4

Ah, finally back in NYC this week and lots happened!
Why are we willing to endure some beauty humiliations and not others?  Weekend Observations: How much Humiliation Are We Willing to Endure for Beauty?
High tech meets fashion meets a freaky circus Pic of the Week: An Amazing Fashion Show That’s Freakish!
Check out how Karen is progressing in her quest to lose 30 lbs,  and how she tackles her “pear” challenge 30in30 Week 10: Imperfect Pear
Yes, beautiful people get both rewarded and punished for their beauty.  But that punishment can be down right scary! Stop the Discrimination!
More fascinating reading about beauty in our culture More to Love: Additions to the Reading List

Have fun prepping for the SuperBowl!

Stop the nastiness already, Biology doesn’t have to dictate our emotions

The Ugliness of Jealousy

If any of you have taken a basic evolutionary biology course at some point in your lives, you know what’s at the heart of so much “female-on-female” jealousy.  While women are hardwired to want to mate with fewer but greater providers, men are wired to want to mate with as many women as possible.  And the sexier these women are the better!
These prehistoric tendencies are clearly still alive and well as evidenced by a study conducted among women in Canada.  Women were asked to look at images of women dressed provocatively and respond (“Women Aggressive Toward ‘Sexy’ peers“).  Guess what?  97% of the subjects made bitchy comments.  In another study, women were asked to look at the same provocatively dressed gal and then were asked if they would let their boyfriends hang out with her.  No sh@#$t, most of them said “no way”.  When the pic of the sex gal was altered to make her look fatter, of course, the subjects were less worried about their men hanging with her.
OK, I get it.  Men can be horn dogs and can get attracted to a hot girl besides ourselves.  But times have changed.  Sure, we may still have age-old instincts but we don’t have to succumb to them.  Most men don’t boink every hot girl they see so why can’t we control our emotions a bit?
If the overpowering desire to demean a sexy girl comes upon us, let’s all take a deep breath and remind ourselves that we’re not Neanderthals anymore.  Maybe just maybe, we’ll make a new friend or at least, add some more positivity to our lives.
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Is Prohibiting Appearance Discrimination Fair For All?

I finally finished reading Deborah Rhode’s Beauty Bias.  (I gave my thoughts on the New York Times’s review of the book in an earlier post, A Legal Approach to Beauty.)

Rhode’s offers a compelling case for broader legislation against appearance discrimination.  Whether you’re obese or stick thin, sexy or frumpy, tall or short, wear no earrings or 10 of them, etc., your appearance should never be a factor in performance evaluations.  If you can do the job, appearance shouldn’t be an issue.  Ever.

Sounds great, right?

But wait a second, think I, this approach can have a dramatic impact on the brands I help create!  Why?  Because brands do a lot more than sell products.  They sell an image.  And that image is made up of many experiential and intangible elements, including the very people who sell it.  In other words, the appearance, behavior, and sense of style, i.e., the image, of personnel that come in contact with customers is itself a skill set.

Example: let’s say you own a luxury brand, and it’s critical that all touch points of the brand reflect the beauty and aspirations that your brand hopes to impart to prospective customers, especially since most luxury brands don ‘t have the “luxury” of using mass media to tell their brand “stories.”  I would advise you to design a magnificent showroom, create glossy, highly-styled print ads, and invest heavily in a captivating digital site that brings the splendor and details of the brand’s products to life.

But it would also be important that all personnel who come in contact with your customers reflect the brand’s values.  As such, they would need a variety of particular talents, and significant among these is that they would appear a certain way, e.g., polished, stylish and “aspirational.”  (By the way, the same holds true if we’re talking about brands on the total opposite end of the spectrum.  Can you imagine a coiffed, high-heeled sales professional with long talons at Home Depot advising you on how to install a kitchen in your home?  Would this person really inspire you to buy the product?)

Rhode is right in saying that if someone is able to do the job, he/she should never be discriminated against on the basis of appearance.  But what Rhode misses is that sometimes because of people’s appearances they actually can’t do the job.