Reverse looksism?

Jenkins 2011WikiCmns D.Skinner

Jenkins 2011WikiCmns D.Skinner

Over the years, I’ve been subject to facial discrimination, a term I coined a while back. (Much of this discrimination occurred while I was growing up, and it’s laid out in Cleft Heart: Chasing Normal.) For this reason, I hope to initiate discussions of looksism on this site from time to time. Looksism part of the Celebrity Culture we live in.

The recent flap over the dental assistant who has twice lost court battles in Iowa over being fired for being “irresistable,” reminded me of Katherine Jenkins’ remarks two years ago. I saw Ms.Jenkins sing with Andre Bocelli in concert a year ago, and she has operatic chops to match her looks.

Apparently, like Melissa Nelson who was “too hot” to keep working for her male dentist boss, Ms.Jenkins has experienced similar kinds of reverse looksism.
In Ms.Jenkins’ own words:

“I’ve always faced prejudice. I’m a working-class girl from Wales. I have blonde hair and wear pretty dresses. There are a lot of people in the classical music world who absolutely loathe me. The critics slate me because I’m not what they consider the real thing. People expect a classical singer to be big and fat with Wagnerian horns on her head. Sorry, that’s not me. It never was and I always knew my looks would be my advantage.”

“I’m totally aware of how to market myself, totally aware of the effect of the way I look. And personally I’d rather see an attractive man playing Romeo than a big fat old man. Why can’t opera singers look good? I don’t get it. My aim was to make classical music popular. I get intimidated going to the opera and it makes me angry because it shouldn’t be like that. But I’m doing my thing and I don’t care what the critics think. I’d never let them get in my way.”

Them’s fightin words!

What’s your reaction?

Next time, insightful remarks on Reverse Looksism by Michael Kimmel, a fellow professor of sociology.


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To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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