There are many words to describe many forms of discrimination. Ageism, racism and sexism are commonly used words and I would imagine need little explanation in today’s society.
What if I told you that I felt that I was a victim of ‘lookism’ on a number of occasions?
You’d probably scoff and tell me that I was just making words up and I can’t deny that my own reaction would be the same. Lookism is to discriminate against a person because of their looks. Well whatever silly word you want to put on it, it’s happened to me.
I would like to put this into perspective. The use of the word victim is slightly inflammatory – I do have a flair for the dramatic. I’m in no way comparing what happened to me with people who suffer real intolerance. In fact it’s so trivial and superficial that it is almost a source of amusement to me.
At first I thought I was crazy, that I was allowing my own insecurities to escape from my overactive brain. Making connections that weren’t there. But now I suspect that I was right.
When I moved back to the home town after being in Dublin and abroad for a few years it took me a while to adjust to the smaller community. Everybody knows everybody and all the faces were the same. I’d look in the local paper and see pictures of people at various events and all taken by the same photographer. Scrolling through the pages I loved checking out the style, dying to see if I recognised anyone.
Valentine’s Day came and it was my turn to be a socialite. There was a ball for charity and my family decided to attend. Groomed and glam we headed off ready to enjoy the evening. We all boarded the lift and who got in with us, only the photographer. I checked my lippy in the reflective wall of the elevator strongly suspecting he would nab us for a photo upon our exit.
That didn’t happen.
We took to our table and I watched as he gathered women and lined them up. He worked his way through the whole room. He never took our photo. One of the guests of honour seated at our table was a senior staff member of the charity. Surely that would be an important photograph to have?
I let it go out of my mind despite my surprise, until I said it to someone the next day,
“Raging I won’t get my photo in the paper!” I remarked. Well, the answer I got floored me.
“No sure he doesn’t take photos of people who are overweight.” I thought she was joking and got on with my life as you do.
The problem is I have now attended numerous events and have never once had my photo taken by this person. The law of averages would suggest that if the choice of people who were photographed was random then I would have been included at least once.
Realistically I have no proof; I can’t walk up to him and ask him if he has a problem with fat people? In the grand scheme of things it’s not even important.
The fact that he behaves that way says more about him then me.
I am an over-thinker but I refuse to allow my self-esteem be dictated by something as superficial as this. It is a strange feeling to be overlooked because of your appearance. Part of me, the teenager in me, wants that man to ask for my picture so badly, as a kind of validation that I’m worthy.
The badass mother in me has fantasised about where I’d tell him to stick his camera if he did ever ask.
Lucky for me I can take my own picture and I take a mean Selfie even if I do say so myself.