Former Playboy Playmate of the Year, Dani Mathers, posted a picture of a naked woman, showering at the gym, on her Snapchat account. That's bad enough, but she included herself looking horrified and the commentary that "If I can't unsee this then you can't either."
As someone who regularly showers at the gym, I find this frightening. But, I'm also heartened because everyone but Mathers did the right thing. LA Fitness (where the picture is believed to have been taken) banned Mathers from every facility. Her boss at her radio show fired her. And the police? They say Mathers could face up to six months in prison if the woman chooses to come forward.
I'm pleased to see so many people coming forward to punish a beautiful person. Not that I think beautiful people should be punished at a higher rate than the average person, but beautiful people get benefits that other people don't.
Business Insider reported on three reasons why beauty makes a difference in your pocketbook and career, based on the research of Markus Mobius and Tanya Rosenblat, of the University of Michigan.
- Physically attractive workers are (wrongly) considered more able by employers.
- Physically attractive workers are more confident, and higher confidence increases wages.
- Physically attractive workers have social skills that raise their wages when they interact with employers.
Now, the first one is where the problem lies. We make assumptions that the way people look reflects their abilities. Now, I have no problem not hiring someone who comes to a job interview dressed in Daisy Duke shorts--not because of her appearance, but because choosing that outfit indicates that she doesn't understand the serious nature of a job interview. But, I do have a tremendous problem with judging someone based on physical appearance.
Yet, people do all the time. We make negative assumptions about people who are less than trim and slim. If you're fat you must be lazy! (I would like to point out, that while the person in Ms. Mather's photo is not fat at all, even if she was she's clearly not lazy as she is at the gym.) If you're fat, you must not be as smart.
The second two points of the research indicate that beautiful people are more successful because they are more confident. However, I believe the latter two points extend from the first one.
I've been fat and I've been thin and I can tell you from experience that people treat you differently when you are skinny than when you are fat. People who wouldn't give you the time of day when you were overweight will line up to be your friend when you've dropped a few pounds. Do I think all those people are inherently evil? No. I think they just subconsciously consider thin people to be more interesting. Add in a pretty/handsome face and suddenly you're bombarded with compliments about how wonderful you are. No wonder your confidence soars!
This is why I'm thrilled that Mathers isn't getting a break. Even her apology stinks--she says she thought she was sending a private message to a girlfriend. Even if that is absolutely the truth, it doesn't take away from the fact that she was taking nude photos of an unsuspecting woman at the gym.
We can't eradicate prejudice against those of us who haven't been blessed with perfect genes overnight, but we can point out the problems with stereotypes. We can force our brains to evaluate people on their knowledge, skills, and abilities, rather than go with our gut impression that the pretty person will be the best for the job.