Successful: Natalie Portman is both attractive and a high achiever
Some might consider it an ugly truth that attractive people are often more successful than those less blessed with looks.
But now our appearance is emerging in legal disputes as a new kind of discrimination.‘Lookism’, it is claimed, is the new racism, and should be banished from civilised societies.
It is currently the subject of several court actions in America, and some experts say similar cases should be considered here too.
Economist Daniel Hamermesh argues that ugliness is no different from race or a disability, and suggests unattractive people deserve legal protection.
'Some people are born ugly and there’s not much they can do about it. You’re pretty much stuck with your looks.
'Logically there’s no less reason to protect the ugly than the disabled, African Americans, other racial minorities or religious minorities, as we do. We could even have affirmative action for the ugly.’
But Lawrence Davies, of the Equal Justice law firm, believes we should be wary of amending current equality laws.
'People who appear to be conventionally beautiful have fewer barriers to workplace success,’ he said. ‘However, protecting conventionally ugly people or offensively linking that condition to a disability would take society in the wrong direction.’
The issue has been highlighted by the case of Shirley Ivey, 61, who is suing her former employer in Washington for ‘lookism’. She left her job at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory affairs suffering from stress after allegedly being told by a supervisor that he would like her more if she was prettier.