The Conversation

On Good Looks and Merits

In response to Obama Sets Off Media Controversy by Complimenting Woman's Looks:

I'm back and forth on this. The President's comments seem innocuous enough and yet oddly out of place given his position and the setting.

On one hand, professional women (and men) want to be judged on the merits. On the other hand, there are still lots of jobs where beauty is treated as a merit in and of itself. I'm thinking movie and TV stars, models, spokespeople, newscasters, etc. And this crosses over into service businesses and even politics.

Everyone from Senators to corporations down to the local burger joint put some thought into the appearance of the people who represent them. Is it a coincidence that the hostesses at most restaurants tend to be more attractive than the guys working in the kitchen? I don't think so.

It seems inevitable that some of those unspoken assumptions that appear in the media and elsewhere would spill over into professional settings on occasion. And yet, if Hillary becomes President in four years (may it never come to pass) it would be really odd to have her comment about the good looking male AG. Odd and maybe a bit creepy.

So where does this leave me? I can't defend what the President said but I'm not shocked he said it. There really are a lot of places in life where good looks are treated as a merit by employers and by society in general, but I think we can all agree Attorney General for the state of California shouldn't be one of those.


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