*The worry line thing could be atypical. Possibly resulted from my concern that random passers-by my office would not realise that I was engaged in serious WORK, and might think that I was just reading something vaguely disreputable for fun (see cover art).
Over the summer I read Stanford Professor Deborah Rhode’s The Beauty Bias. A great read, which moves across the popular non fiction/scholarly legal work divide with some ease. She gathers loads of research into the “meaning” of beauty and the way that beauty products are marketed to bolster her critiques and suggestions for law reform (including a prohibition on false and misleading advertising). The book deserves a proper review, but happily both the New York Times (again, the book is aimed at a broad readership) and one of the best “legal” reporters around, Dahlia Lithwick of Slate, have already done it. Click here for Lithwick’s review (and if you don’t already read Ms. Lithwick regularly, you should. Her writing is excellent and her coverage of the hearings of the US Supreme Court might be the single best law-thing on the web).
The book ought to promote serious self reflection (how do I discriminate on the basis of appearance?) , as well as some serious thinking about whether law is the best method for preventing the social harm Rhode documents in great and persuasive detail. On the latter, I’m not quite sure – and I’m not quite sure I like the analogizing between say, race and attractiveness which goes on in all the discussion of this book. I’m wary of analogy in “kinds” of discrimination, for all kinds of reasons that I can’t do justice to here.
In sum: I can’t say it’s changed my actions at the drugstore, but it has put an academic edge on my outrage when I’m horribly and directly insulted by ads and “articles” on skin care in various magazines I read but am ashamed to name. If you don’t care for academic edge, here’s a video for you – just some snarky feminist humour:
Robert Post, et al ‘Prejudicial Appearances: The Logic of American Antidiscrimination Law’ http://www.amazon.ca/Prejudicial-Appearances-PB-Robert-Post/dp/0822327139