Cheap Chic


This Wilson Quarterly article, "Looks Do Matter," is annoying from the title (the presumption that "looks matter" is a contrarian argument rather than a painfully obvious one) to the overwrought conclusion (that if Americans would just stop being fat slobs, we'd be halfway to an egalitarian utopia). But this strikes me as spectacularly wrongheaded:

To a bizarre extent, looking good in America has become the province of an appearance aristocracy—an elect we revere for their seemingly unattainable endowment of good looks. Physical attractiveness has become too much associated with affluence and privilege for a country as democratically inclined as ours.

When all you have to do is not be obese to stand out in a crowd, when decent Prada knockoffs are dirt-cheap and getting cheaper, when you can remake your entire face on reality TV, it makes no sense to argue that good looks are "seemingly unattainable." People wouldn't be shelling out in record numbers for botox, drugstore mascara, South Beach Diet shakes, and cheap trendy clothing (all of which are becoming more, not less accessible) if that were even remotely true.