The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law

The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law

The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law

The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law

Excerpt

I have always had issues with appearance, but seldom have I wanted to share them openly, let alone write a book about them. In this culture, some measure of anxiety is hard to avoid. Susan Brownmiller, one of feminism’s founding mothers, identified part of the problem: “Who said ‘clothes make a statement?’” she asked. “What an understatement that was. Clothes never shut up. They gabble on endlessly making their intentional and unintentional points.” The same is true of weight, hairstyle, makeup, and related choices. That creates problems for those of us who have no statement. I’ve always wanted just to blend in, to remain aesthetically unmemorable. Unlike other women, who seem embarrassed or affronted if they turn up in the same outfit as someone else in the room, I have been greatly relieved. If some fashion faux pas has been committed, at least I’m not alone.

Imitation has always struck me as the safest strategy, but when I came to Stanford in 1979 as the second woman on a law faculty of thirty-six, my only female colleague had a style I clearly couldn’t follow. She wore flamboyant prints and bold colors—statements everywhere. By contrast, the progressive male colleagues with . . .

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