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The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 6, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Beauty is in the eye of the job-holder, evidently. Referencing Plessy v. Ferguson (the 1896 Supreme Court decision affirming "separate but equal" racial policies) is proven more than apropos in Rhodes' riveting overview of the ways in which appearance impacts hiring practices and job qualifications, in both overt and subtle ways. Legal or illegal is often beside the point when it comes to cases like those she surveys, though there are civil rights issues that immediately spring to mind for scholars in this field. The author's own experience with appearance expectations in the seemingly egalitarian world of academia notwithstanding, most of the cases and examples she provides are unfortunately not surprising. Covering a range of social classes, and tackling issues ranging from weight bias to the legality of forcing a college professor to change hairstyles, the book raises issues that will be debated for years to come. Rhodes argues that in jurisdictions with provisions protecting individuals from appearance-related discrimination in the workplace, the courts are not clogged with cases, contrary to the assumption of critics. Rhodes' analysis includes many new cases for the edification of students and readers interested in law, sociology, or business.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"The book is illuminating and important: it explores the often unacknowledged, yet pervasive, discrimination against people, particularly women, who don t conform to mainstream notions of beauty and appearance [Rhode] is the one of the country's leading scholars in legal ethics and gender Rhode is incredibly prolific."--Danielle Citron, Concurring Opinions
"[Rhode] is convincing in her arguments that laws punishing appearance discrimination might be a logical step in exactly the right direction it's hard to deny the validity of the problem that she confronts. And it's even harder to ignore the extent to which concerns about appearance shape our daily lives. Rhode so clearly enumerates the costs to society incurred by appearance discrimination that readers judges and lawmakers included will find themselves unsettled."--Christian Science Monitor
"Provocative Rhode is at her most persuasive when arguing that in the United States, the penchant to discriminate against unattractive women (and also short men) is as pernicious and widespread as bias based on race, sex, age, ethnicity, religion, and disability. She provides overwhelming evidence of bias against the overweight, the unattractive, and the aging. And while some of these cases may be covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act or race discrimination law, most are not."--Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.com
"This book is extremely well written. There are plenty of everyday examples of appearance discrimination and the book is written with a passion and enthusiasm that sweeps the reader along...a call to arms...No doubt it will create a considerable body of literature and much debate."--Legal Studies
"Rhode writes clearly and thinks deeply. I found her case convincing morally and legally."--Dallas Morning News
"This is a well-researched and thoughtful exploration of beauty ideals in legal, professional and other hard-hitting real-life spheres. A serious contribution to the literature of the politics of appearance."--Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth
"Rhode's insightful analysis and lively writing style brilliantly lays out the ways in which prescriptions about appearance, whether mandated by the law, influenced by the billion dollar cosmetics industry, or the leaders of social movements, affect people's opportunities and their everyday lives."--Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, Past President, American Sociological Association; Professor of Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center
"When the fastest-growing medical specialty is cosmetic surgery, we should all be concerned. Deborah Rhode's analysis offers real insight into what compels our 'beauty behavior,' the economic consequences, and what we can-and must-do about it. This book should be on every woman's bookshelf."--Kim Gandy, Former President, National Organization for Women
"Deborah Rhode uncovers 'beauty bias' as an obstacle for women every bit as disabling as sex or gender discrimination, but more damaging because it is virtually immune to legal challenge. Her discourse and strategies for ending appearance discrimination speak to every woman and should be supported by all people concerned with social justice."--Herma Hill Kay, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
Top customer reviews
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Bad: The arguments are often pretty fast - Rhode prefers to skim over a lot of the key issues in feminism by glossing over things and deciding to focus on "refocusing the feminist critique" (pg 88) which is really just code for 'I'm going to ignore a lot of the deeper challenges to my work that come from various strands of feminism and instead make fairly uncontroversial points.' For a topic this interesting it would be good to have a more detailed, strenuously defended argument.
As it stands, sympathetic readers are going to wish there was more substance, and hostile readers are going to find plenty of holes to poke. The book also contains a few factual mistakes and hasty over-generalizations, which it could certainly have done without.
Overall: Worth reading if you're interested in the topic and want to get some of the issues out onto the table, but not so great for digging really deep and figuring stuff out for good.
The book is basically a long list of various types of biases and repetition. I was really excited when I read the description of the book but was disappointed when I actually read it.
The whole book away because after it there are no more surprises, same examples, same arguments with no more depth or data.
No free market absolutist, Rhode argues persuasively that businesses should not have the right to discriminate against someone because of their appearance. She makes a case that people discriminated against because of appearance have every much as legal and moral right to sue in court as did the civil rights movement or any other cause. The Beauty Bias is an important, well-reasoned book that should be read by anyone concerned about these issues.