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Lookism on TV: Age, gender and Mary Beard

by on January 23, 2013

We’ve blogged before on lookism, perhaps best described as a form of discrimination that judges people on their appearance rather than on their skills.

We raised it in the context of working on TV where the combination of (older) age and (female) gender may be seen as particularly problematic – Miriam O’Reilly and Arlene Phillips being two examples of older women who lost TV based jobs at the BBC.

Mary Beard received criticism, including from TV critics, over her personal appearance when she presented the series Meet the Romans. A A Gill said she should be kept away from TV cameras altogther. Her response was in part to say: “I’m every inch the 57-year-old wife, mum and academic, half-proud of her wrinkles, her crow’s feet, even her hunched shoulders from all those misspent years poring over a library desk.”

Now following an appearance on the BBC’s Question Time last week, Professor Beard has been the target of particularly vile online comments, very much based on her age, gender and appearance. She has blogged about these here.

As law firm Forsters consider here, is lookism the acceptable face of discrimination?

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One Comment
  1. I personally believe that lookism is not acceptable in any circumstances if one’s skill is enough to complete his or her job. There is no such as thing thats an acceptable discrimination. I think acknowledging the problem at first and keeping in mind that we need to be aware of the issue is important.

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