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The New Discrimination: Looksism By: Holly Abrams
The BG News | Thursday, March 31, 2005


The following story appeared on the frontpage of The BG News, the student newspaper of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, a state college with 20,000 students. It further highlights the lows to which academia has sunk, and the heights to which politically correct groupthink has risen on the modern campus. -- The Editors.

With so much talk about racism, sexism and classism, many people may overlook the persistent trend in society of looksism.

In a small group setting yesterday students and staff discussed how society revolves around the way people treat each other based on their appearance.

The talk "Looksism 101" was in celebration of Rainbow Dayz, a week-long awareness event for the LGBTA-Q community. Freshman Joseph Aufenthie, who is interning at the LGBTA-Q resource center, was the presenter.

Looksism is the discrimination or prejudice against people based on their appearance, Aufenthie said.

The attraction to looks is part aesthetic and part natural instinct for mate selection. But it is the media's portrayal and negative connotations regarding ugliness that make looksism detrimental, Aufenthie said.

"Looksism effects our daily lives through fads and trends," he said. "Many people are valued for their looks."

Aufenthie discussed how looksism is presented in the movies, music and commercials.

He noted the unrealistic expectations media puts on women to be beautiful. There are shocking discrepancies between the average woman, a Barbie doll and a typical store mannequin, he said.

In connection to Rainbow Dayz, Aufenthie discussed the relationship of looksism and social-economics to the queer community.

Looksism often targets women and gay men, he said.

Audience member and graduate student Joelle Ryan noted a similarity between the two groups.

"Both heterosexual women and gay men are scrutinized by heterosexual men," Ryan said.

Women are persecuted by looksism through objectification, fat oppression and the media's message, Aufenthie said.

There are ways to solve these issues, Aufenthie said.

People need to realize that attraction is not a definition for beauty and not being attracted to someone does not mean they are ugly, he said.

"We also need to understand the need for a diverse populace of different body shapes and sizes, and to realize that the media portrays looks inaccurately," he said.

In addition attraction or un-attraction does not decide self worth, he said.

"I thought it was very good and it's important to put issues of looksism on the table," Ryan said. "There is so much judgment in people's looks and we need to brainstorm ways to overcome it."

Rainbow Dayz serves to inform people and promote diversity, said Nicky Damania, director of the LGBTA-Q center.

"It's a topic that everyone knows about but it's one of those topics you need to keep hearing about," he said.

Rainbow Dayz is sponsored by the Center for Multicultural and Academic Initiatives, the LGBTA-Q resource center, Vision and many other co-sponsors.

Some may think minority groups desire specific privileges, Damania said.

"We're not asking for special rights, we're just asking for equality," he said.




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