How to Combat Beauty-ism

Now that the seekers of cosmic justice have taken care of health inequalities by ensuring that everyone enjoys equally poor health under Obamcare, they are turning their attention to inequalities in beauty. Here’s the lowdown:

In her provocative new book, The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Law and Life, Stanford law professor Deborah Rhode argues that workers deserve legal protection against appearance-based discrimination unless their looks are directly relevant to their job performance….

Rhode convingingly [sic] argues that beauty bias in the workplace is a widespread problem with serious consequences. Between 12 and 14 percent of workers say they’ve suffered some kind of appearance-based discrimination on the job.

It should go without saying that discrimination on the basis of appearance is unjust, especially when it comes to features individuals have little or no control over. Rhode does a good job of spelling out why such bias is offensive to human dignity and equal opportunity.

If discrimination on the basis of appearance is unjust, then discrimination on the basis of intelligence and ability must also be unjust. A very high percentage of workers have been discriminated against on the basis if their lack of intelligence, and yet individuals have little or no control over their level of intelligence. Nor do they have much control of their ability to do things that require intelligence or other genetically determined traits (e.g., exceptional eyesight, exceptional height, perfect pitch).

Therefore, following Deborah Rhode’s logic, public and private institutions should not be able to discriminate on the basis of intelligence or ability (where it is genetically dependent). Professors, most athletes, most musicians, brain surgeons, and others whose occupations demand high intelligence and/or unusual physical abilities should be chosen by lottery. Think of Debora Rhode as you go under the knife.

Seriously (not), here is how the government should deal with the problem of beauty-ism:

1. Establish national standards of beauty. This should be done by an independent commission of experts appointed by the president, subject to confirmation by the ugliest members of the Senate.

2. Assign every person over the age of 16 a beauty rating, on a scale of 1 to 8 (“10″ is such a cliché). This can be done at the time of the decennial census. It would require the abolition of the mail-in form in favor of visits to every dwelling place in America by teams of beauty judges who are trained and certified by the beauty commission. Refusal to be judged would be a felony, punishable by compulsory viewing of American Idol or similar fare, as determined by the beauty commission.

3. Determine the national distribution of beauty ratings.  If the ratings are normally distributed, for example, they would occur with the following frequency per 1,000 persons: 1 = 1; 2 = 21; 3 = 136; 4 = 341; 5 = 341; 6 = 136; 7 = 21; 8 = 1 (distribution does not add to 1,000 because of rounding).

4. Require every employer (private and government) to maintain a workforce with a distribution of beauty ratings that matches the national distribution. Heads of private and government organizations (e.g., CEOs, the president, the speaker of the House) would be counted for purposes of determining compliance with the national average.

5. Give employers an opportunity to comply with the national distribution. In an arrangement similar to cap-and-trade for carbon emissions, employers could trade overly beautiful employees for underly beautiful ones. In a token bow to liberty, the terms of trade would be negotiated by the trading parties.

6. Punish employers who fail to bring their workforces into compliance with the national distribution by a date certain. Punishments would vary according to the degree of noncompliance. At a minimum, offenders would be forced to watch Dancing with the Stars. As for the most serious offenders, their personal beauty ratings would be lowered to 1, thus insulting 999 out of every 1,000 offenders and making it almost impossible for them to work anywhere. No exceptions would be made for high-ranking officials. (Note to Barack Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi: That means you.*)

Thus endeth today’s journey into the never-land of cosmic justice.

* On the evidence of these portraits and photos of the presidents of the U.S., I conclude that average beauty rating for a president in the post-hirsute era (Wilson through Obama) is a below-average 4.4.

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