Justice for “Ugly People”

// 11 April 2008

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Now here’s an idea that seems fair in theory but would be an administrative nightmare to put into practice: Gonzalo Otalora is arguing that good-looking people should pay more tax. This would make up for the better deal they get in life (from employers, potential lovers etc).

He also wants photo requirements on job applications and airbrushing in magazines to be outlawed and for the levy to be donated to “the ugly.” I’m right with him on the first two goals but I must say the mind boggles when it comes to how on earth the government would decide who could be classed as “ugly.” Would they use a very narrow definition that attempts to boil attractiveness down to an exact science? (For the record, the one I’ve linked to looks pretty sexist too.) Would there be a sliding scale or a sharp cut-off point? Would the government have to make turning up to get assessed compulsory? Or would they rely on people voluntarily stepping forward as potential “uglies” for official confirmation? Imagine the backlash! Surely a whole section of lower taxpayers (not to mention the recipients of the funds) would end up being vilified for their certified status as “officially not good looking”?

Thank goodness Lucy Mangan jokily suggests rebates for late bloomers. Just think of all those people who spent their early years suffering as apparent ugly ducklings only to be penalised for turning into swans…

Then again, maybe we’d actually see a positive result, as hoardes of tax-dodgers got slack in the effort to make sure they looked as minging as possible. Perhaps some people would discover that life is much more fun when you don’t fritter your time away on trying to look attractive?

Comments From You

Juliet // Posted 11 April 2008 at 9:51 pm

“An idea that seems fair in theory”??? How could it ever be fair to tax someone more because of the looks they were born with?! No one has any control over that. It would be the most terrible discrimination.

Good looking people may or may not enjoy certain advantages over people not considered good looking, but I think good looking people (esp. women) often get picked on more because others are jealous and resentful of them. Or they don’t get taken seriously. It ain’t all one big bowl of cherries.

And what if someone’s an ugly millionaire?! There seem to be plenty of them around.

I think this is one of life’s unfairnesses that you can’t reasonably legislate against. By the way, I don’t consider myself good looking! Just Ms Average. I would certainly agree with airbrushing in magazines being outlawed though, because we all know the harm that can do.

Leigh Woosey // Posted 13 April 2008 at 2:21 pm

I’m afraid I have to agree with Juliet in condemning your opening comment, Holly. It is ludicrous and unjust to tax somebody for their appearance. The basic reasons (and I had hoped they wouldn’t need to be restated on a feminist blogspace, but never mind that) are:

1) People should not be penalised for their bodies. That takes away their freedoms to determine what their body should be like.

2) Standards of attractiveness vary across time and culture

3) Standards of attractiveness have a patriarchal bias in western societies and so any tax based on those standards would be unfair on women.

nancy // Posted 14 April 2008 at 5:39 am

I’d say that I lean towards agreeing with Holly re. it being a good (or at least interesting) idea in theory and unworkable in practice. I’ve often heard attractive women claim that they suffer more bad treatment because of their looks than plainer people do, and …frankly I find that claim outrageous. First of all, comparisons of experiences of suffering are never a good idea because we can never know what other people experience. And although I can imagine attractive women having their own sort of suffering from their looks (something they are extremely vocal about- oh poor them!) I wonder if they ever considered what it is like to have complete strangers scream their heads off at them with such compliments as “YOU ARE FUCKING UGLY” hundreds and hundreds of times throughout their lives? To hear people making barfing noises when they pass you? Do they know what it is like to see the facial expressions of bank tellers, store clerks, professors, doctors (of both sexes) change from neutral to thinly veiled disgust when they first see them?

If being beautiful is a double edged sword then being ugly is a one edged razor sharp sword that cuts into your will to live. What beautiful people don’t and never will know is that goodness is continually projected onto them. Try to imagine what the opposite must feel like.

Of course I wouldn’t consider the tax thing seriously at all though. But truly- people should be aware that “ugly”people suffer extraordinarily and who can they talk to about it? No friend will put up with a discussion about one’s experiences as an ugly person (because they don’t see you that way) and there certainly aren’t groups for it. (Not that I know of)

Sorry- I’ve gone on a bit…anyway- maybe I’m a late bloomer because these horrible experiences haven’t happened in a while- so don’t worry about me!

Holly Combe // Posted 14 April 2008 at 10:43 am

I can appreciate that my opening comment was excessive, seeing as I ended up pretty much talking myself out of the idea anyway!

On reflection, I think I put it like that because I was keen not to consider Otalora’s idea with a closed mind. As Nancy says, whether a person (particularly a woman) is widely viewed as “attractive” can have a real impact on her life. This inequality arises directly *because* of other people’s prejudices and I think that raises the question of whether this can be officially addressed and, if so, how. However, I ultimately agree that Gonzalo Otalora’s idea is unworkable and would probably result in more unfairness rather than less.

I’d also like to add that not all the points Leigh makes “need to be restated” on here, because I did actually address at least one of them in my post! I mentioned the problem of using a definition of attractiveness that attempts to boil it down to “an exact science” (a minefield in itself because, as Leigh says, standards of attractiveness vary across time and culture) and also mentioned that the example I linked to seemed rather sexist. Indeed, I think that particular example lends weight to Leigh’s third point and agree that it would probably be women who would end up being penalised the most.

Samara Ginsberg // Posted 14 April 2008 at 12:08 pm

Nancy, I totally agree, and if you are talking specifically about your personal experiences I feel bad for you because nobody deserves that. Most women just don’t realise the extraordinary extent of the entitlement or non-entitlement that arises from their looks. Women’s looks are considered by far their most important attribute, and it’s pretty much that alone that determines our status in the eyes of most people.

Laura // Posted 20 April 2008 at 9:47 pm

Nancy, while it is unfortunate that you were dealt a bad card hand by mother nature, I don’t think we should apologize for not being ugly. Yes, some people get treated better by others because they’re more attractive some get treated worse, just like some are more intelligent, nicer, run faster etc. We are all equal before the law (or before Our Lord if that’s your thing) but no one said we’re supposed to be equal in our aptitudes, talents, beauty or potentials. Like I said, some received a better/worse hand but I’m not going to apologize because I got more lucky in life nor am I going to feel bad for ugly people because they’re ugly. I don’t think they would want people to feel about anyway. Maybe the occasional snicker would work better heh. And it’s naive to assume attractive people necessarily don’t have any hardships. Anyway, focus on your life and stay positive is the best way to go.

jay // Posted 22 May 2008 at 8:49 pm

hey do you believe that people hate this guy for having scars on his face that they call him ugly and they tell people to hate him and even giving him a death threat. i think people hate him because the scars on his face but not what he was born with is ridiculous. everyone hate him because of one of the odiot did the wrong thing to this guy. no body stop this guy from doing bad thing to people.but they hate the other guy with the scar face for no reason

lil murp // Posted 7 December 2008 at 12:16 am

i guess you can say im ugly and proud. ive been ugly for 28 yrs…so why should i complain? men hate me…women talk crap about me…people see me and think im better off dead…oh well, sorry bout that folks…not my fault im ugly…im poor so i cant afford plastic surgery…im fat…over 300 pounds…my nose is huge..i have thick facial hair…i have horribly crooked teeth…im crossed eyed and terrible acne…i have had total strangers come up to me asnd ask me why im even alive…isnt that the cruelest????? people think being ugly is something you can help…well youre born how youre born…i mean, what can i say…? i know that no man on this earth would ever give me a chance because of how i look on the outside…cuz looks do matter…they really do…any guy who says he wants a nice caring girl who isnt too attractive is…hellooooo..lying…if they are hott it doesnt matter if they are a bitch or a thief or a cheat or not…if a woman is hott…then thats all that matters…maybe in my next life i will be hott…lololol..riiiight

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