I generally think of myself as a fairly vain person. It is not an aspect of my personality that I push to the foreground with people; in fact, most people who know me would not say that I am vain. Yet, I am. For instance, I cannot pass a mirror without stealing a glance at myself. Even worse, I always check my reflection in glass, all glass: store fronts, bus windows, the train windows, really anything that reflects my image becomes kryptonite as I pass. I think I am subtle about it, but I am under no delusion that no one has ever noticed.
In fact, there are times on the train when I catch someone’s eye after looking “out” the window, when I was really just checking my own reflection, and I see the laughter and mirth on their face and I know that they know that I was checking myself out.
Now, as I mentioned, I generally do not go around alerting people that I am a vain creature; I tend to promote a rather humble vestige, because, realistically, I am not that great looking. I mean don’t get me wrong, I think I am quite a looker, but most Western media is not pushing freckles, oddly colored green eyes, and size (you don’t need to know) as the Aphrodite of our age. The reason I bring it up is due to the moments I have been having recently where I am humbled by the fortune of my looks. yes my looks, something which I have no control over.
Sure I can put on make up, cut my hair a certain way, and dress in the latest style, but that does not change the core of how I look. And it continues to amaze me how much I have been conditioned to judge someone based purely on random chance. I have been finding myself pitying women who have hairy arms or, even worse, facial hair. Yet the more I look around, the more I find most women have slight “mustaches” and they aren’t hideous or weird, but we perceive them as weird. So I pity women who have to bleach or wax or pluck their face for the benefit of…. well the benefit of everyone but themselves really.
I also find myself pitying those people my age who have yet to shed the acne of their adolescence. I never had acne, not anything serious. Oh a zit here, a pimple there, but nothing that wasn’t gone in a day or two and never more than two at one time. I am not scarred by acne and I don’t have to worry about the flaws on my skin. Acne is hell for some. People can’t wear certain clothes or don’t try for things because of acne. If I thought I guy was cute at a bar (speaking in hyperbole of course) I would have no problem approaching him, at least my skin would not be a problem for me in deciding whether to approach him or not.
So what does this all mean? It sure sounds like I am just raving about my good luck. Well I am. That’s the point. I am so lucky. I am so blessed. And, I. Did. Nothing. To. Deserve. It.
It floors me to see how many perks, privileges if you will, I receive for being moderately attractive in this society. And that’s just physical looks. It seems so insignificant, but ask any person who is “plain” or “ugly” and you will soon learn how significant attractiveness is! Now apply this to all the other “isms” in our society.
There are aspects of people, less superfluous than looks, that we put much more emphasis on and grant much more privilege to the “right” group. To name a few: race/ethnicity, class, age, sex, gender, religion, ability. Yet, people will claim either these privileges don’t exist or they don’t “see” any of these “isms”– they are beyond that. Bullshit. That’s right I’m calling you out on it. Bullshit.
If we are still assigning worth based on “attractiveness” then you bet your ass we are still assigning worth based on other prejudices too.