Metal Yarmulke
Saturday, March 06, 2004

Getting back to the issue of looks...

The attitude that "attractive people = good, unattractive people = bad" is a current in the blogosphere that's especially bothered me for some time.

Oh, I really don't care about male bloggers who post "cheesecake" photos. Those, usually, aren't serious-minded posts. What I'm talking about is the meme that if someone, especially a woman, is "unattractive" (read: not considered attractive by current conventional standards), what she has to say isn't worth listening to.

This attitude is on widest display whenever some dumb-ass lefties who don't happen to look like supermodels "strip for peace" or whatever the cause du jour is. But I was especially disappointed when Kimberly Swygert — and I'm not trying to single Kimberly out for criticism, because she really does do an excellent education blog — wrote an entire post based on this logic back in January. (You can see my response near the bottom of the comments.)

What I found especially ironic, and sad, is that the post in question appeared immediately after one on bullying.

I've been overweight since I was seven and a half, and as a kid I wore thick glasses and braces. I got called a lot of names. It's bad enough when adults defend the deliberate and often amazing cruelty of children toward other children with the old excuse, "Kids will be kids," or the "sticks and stones" doggerel. But it's even worse when adults contribute to these sorts of attitudes. Especially adults who are actively working to make education a better experience for children.

A few days later, while perusing this thread, I discovered this site. I looked at the faces on BeautyCheck before I even read the a.s.c thread, and I myself didn't see very much difference between the "attractive" and "unattractive" ones. So I wasn't surprised that the a.s.c commenters by and large didn't, either.

The commenters also point out that many people, women as well as men, who have been famed for their looks had irregular/asymmetric features. Sometimes the irregularity gives their face a compelling appearance. And sometimes, as in the case of the historical Cleopatra, personal charm overrides the physical aspect.

Style and aesthetics, as Virginia Postrel points out, are far from unimportant...but people will always disagree on what looks good. The blogosphere has no problem excoriating elitist liberals who sneer at Middle American fashion or tastes, but it seems to have a blind spot when it comes to realizing that tastes in human appearance vary widely, too.

The "left-wing women in general and feminists in particular are ugly dykes" meme is quite nasty, and should be beneath the collective dignity of the anti-P.C. blogosphere. Its denizens are capable of, and for the most part engage in, far more intelligent discourse. 
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