Watch out! It’s LOOKISM folks……

Wow, I think a lot of us are still a bit stunned at the shocking revelation by the ceremony’s music director Chen Qigang about the little girl who was just not pretty enough to show up to sing live at the Beijing Olympics Opening ceremony.

The little song bird Yang Pei Yi, who was slated to be a rising star, has buck teeth and a chubby face.

When interviewed by the Beijing People’s Broadcasting Station, music chief Chen said that leaders from various government agencies came to watch the opening ceremony rehearsals in the Bird’s Nest and “…a leader from the Politburo, who gave us his opinion, (said) this has to change”.

So the cuter pig tailed Lin Miaoke came into the picture. She was apparently “flawless in image, internal feelings, and expression”.  Oh, but can she sing? Not good enough obviously. Solution, get Lin Miaoke to lip sync the recording of patriotic song Ode to the Motherland  sung by Yang Pei Yi as China’s national flag was carried into the stadium, a key moment in the three hour ceremony.

In the end ….  What we heard, was the perfect voice of Yang. What we saw, was the perfect face of Lin. Problem solved. 

My two sen worth. There’s a word in the English Language for discrimination or prejudice based on appearance. It’s not widely used but can be found in major English Language dictionaries. The word is  LOOKISM.  The word may be uncommon but sadly, this form of discrimination is NOT so uncommon. Let’s see how lookism is practised as defined by Wikipedia:

  • “Researchers have found that good looking students get higher grades from their teachers than students with an ordinary appearance.
  • … attractive patients receive more personalized care from their doctors.
  • Studies have even shown that handsome criminals receive lighter sentences than less attractive convicts.
  • How much money a person earns may also be influenced by physical beauty. One study found that people low in physical attractiveness earn 5 to 10 percent less than ordinary looking people, who in turn earn 3 to 8 percent less than those who are considered good looking.”

What is beauty? Some people say beauty is all about symmetry. Some say it is youth. The media also strongly promotes beauty as being light on the scales. The whitening cream people will tell you its a fair & white complexion. The list is endless. What happened to – Inner beauty. Grace. Personality. Intelligence. Elegance. Charm. Oh well, you might as well throw it out of the window I guess. Useless, they say. Not so useless, I say.

Universal though lookism may be, the perception of beauty is however a harder subject to tackle. Just how do we discriminate between a beauty and a non beauty. It is not an exact science I’m afraid. It isn’t just about the pursuit of the perfect symmetry or looks. I’m sure if you throw a Twiggy like figure (when she was young) in front of Michelangelo he’d flip in his grave. After all, he is responsible for producing the sculpture of David which is a famous work on symmetry.  If stout figures were desirable during the Victorian Ages, its obviously history. Today, the complete opposite look is desirable. Stick thin figures rule bringing on the onset of eating disorders like bulimia & anorexia.  But then again, our perception of beauty is very much influenced by the media and the entertainment industry. So kudos to brandnames like Dove who have promoted advertisements featuring plus size women and ordinary day to day women.

Beauty is also culturally sensitive. A Polynesian man would view a woman with an ample figure of voluptuous proportions as beautiful, but in other cultures this very same woman could be labled ‘obese’. Or if you throw a bride in front of a tribal man in the Lao Cao region (in Vietnam) with a row of straight, WHITE teeth, he’d say – she’s not beautiful enough. Bring the charcoal – her front teeth need to be blackened. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder indeed!

I’d like to end this blog with a tribute to Little Yang Peiyi, you might not be considered pretty enough to be shown in the Olympics ceremony but hey, you’re beautiful enough in our eyes. You have a beautiful voice and you are beautiful in your own way, buck teeth and all.  Beauty is skin deep but inner beauty lasts forever.

P.S. Here’s a little glossary for those who are not too familiar with 2 expressions with the word beauty in it:

  • Beauty lies/is in the eye of the beholderLiteral meaning. It means that beauty is very much an individual opinion. Different people might have different perceptions of beauty.
  • Beauty is skin deep. – It alludes to the fact that physical beauty is superficial. Outward appearance is not as important as inner beauty.

8 responses to “Watch out! It’s LOOKISM folks……

  1. Yes, I was too.. extremely shocked and disgusted with what they have done to that poor little girl. As for the pretty one, she would be forever labeled as a fake. The whole incident revealed sheer ugliness in the mentality of the Chinese. I can’t believe this is happening.

  2. Gina: Yes, its sad isn’t it. All this stereotyping about beauty seems to be more damaging than not. It is sad that the wrong message that appearance dominates over other abilities is being sent across.

  3. I was indifferent to such news. After all the whole wide world is filled with lookism. The world has never been fair.

    If you think on the other side of the coin. In this %&%$@# world, neither Lin Miaoke and Yang Pei Yi could have done it by themselves. So they combined and had their moment of glory.

    The only justice in this unfair world is that the probabalities for success for Yang Pei Yi will be higher because she knows the discrimination she faces and will have to work harder. Lin Miaoke on the other hand has a higher probablity of being being nothing but someone’s mistress especially in China.

  4. Asme: Yes, the world is never fair…. let’s hope the fate you predicted for Lin does not materialise…

  5. What the 2 little girls were subjected to was totally unnecessary, and I think a huge mistake by the Chinese, knowing that the world’s eyes was upon them, a taint on an otherwise brilliant showing. Sigh!

  6. PJ: Yes, I find it quite baffling really coz the little girl (the singer Yang Pei Yi) is quite cute … yes, so weird that the top guns found it unacceptable to have her appear live. After all, its the talent that counts right…. I’m not trying to be offensive but taking Paul Potts as an example, he’s an average, quiet & unassuming guy who is blessed with such a huge voice…. hearing him sing never fails to bring a lump to my throat…!

  7. Well, well, whaddaya know? Pretence is rampant worldwide…even the Sydney Symphony Orchestra had needed its Melbourne counterpart to provide the music for its “performance” during the Sydney 2000 Olympics! The Chinese must be gloating over this new report.

  8. PJ: Yup, its UNIVERSAL alright… certainly is a save face piece of news!

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