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Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Politics of Beauty

Over at Mises.org, Ben O'Neill has a great post about "discrimination" in the modeling industry. Recently, a model of Indian-descent in Australia tried to make the case that she was being unfairly discriminated on the basis of her race.
"One might feel a bit sorry for Ms. Rajandran. One might, that is, until one realizes that although she is the subject of adverse discrimination in this present instance, she is also the beneficiary of many other forms of discrimination, of a very similar kind. In fact, her entire career, and her entire qualification as a model, depends on forms of discrimination that are exactly as arbitrary and superficial as the race discrimination she is now facing.
This moral similarity between race discrimination and other kinds of discrimination is quite interesting. In his writings on discrimination, Professor Walter Block exposes the absurdity of attempts to forcibly equalize representation in different occupations and activities amongst demographic groups, saying,

Even if such a policy were possible to administer fairly, which it is not, even if it did some good, which it does not, it is always open to the charge of hypocrisy, for there is no difference in principle between the characteristics which are presently protected (race, gender, nationality) and those that are not (height, weight, intelligence, beauty). And further, the characteristics we have so far considered are only the tip of the iceberg of those upon which people discriminate."
The post takes a totally ridiculous claim and really examines it to a logical progression. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wonder, though, if this will prompt subsidized modeling agencies in Australia. And why stop at Indian-Australians? Why not help out ugly Australian women? Aren't they discriminated against in the modeling world too?
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  1. Wait, did anyone ask for Season of the Witch yet? Dang, I missed it.

    Sunny South Kensington?
    "Jean Paul Belmondo and Mary Quant
    got stoned to say the least"

    Ferris Wheel?
    "And the moral here, if any, my friend:
    Follow through your dream to the end."

  2. I'm discriminated against daily because of my shyness (actually it's social phobia).

    I blush and sweat bullets in many social settings. At a job interview once, I was sweating so badly the interviewer asked me to take off my suit jacket ... and then asked me to remove my tie and unbutton my shirt a bit!!

    Talk about humiliation!! This affliction has really held me back all my life. Going out to dinner or to a party ... something most people don't think twice about ... are huge, huge, anxiety-inducing events for me. It's not fair, is it?

    Our daughters can barely walk a block or two in a big Japanese city without some guy accosting us about having them model. They have the Eurasian look so prized in Japan. It's not fair to native full-blooded Japanese girls (or my son and me--we never get asked), is it?

    My wife is 5'10" and is often stopped and asked to model here in California ... I doubt her beautiful younger sister has been asked ... because she's about a foot shorter than my wife (I tell my wife she got some freakish mutated gene ... or that she was adopted). It's not fair, is it?

    Poor, poor Ms. Rajandran. It's not fair, is it?

    I feel your pain, love. It must be hard getting out of bed every morning.

  3. I have always thought it would be fair to limit the number of black players in the NBA to their 12% proportion of of the population. It's not the white players fault that they can't jump as high and perform incredible feats of acrobatic ball handling.

  4. @viator

    It's like that Burt Reynold's movie where he's voicing all the regrets and injustices that took place in his life and he looks at a picture of himself as an athlete in his youth and says, "Just three seconds faster and I would've had the world record in the 100."

    Nowadays all our shortcomings and all the things we are not are "injustices."

  5. It may come as a surprise to some but people of India are caucasion, so it's not a racial thing.

  6. Viator, I feel that you and I are kindred spirits. In my younger days my goal was to become a professional baseball player but my ambition was frustrated and for the decades since I have felt the continuing sting of discrimination.

    And why, you may ask, was I denied my chance to play pro ball? It was only--please for the moment contain the hot rush of indignation at the discrimination to which I was subjected--because I don't have any talent for the game and little, if any, discernible athletic ability of any sort.

    And yet, solely because I couldn't hit, field, run, or throw, my high school coach denied me the chance to step on that first rung towards my dearly held goal.