Shaun Cronin post on The Biggest Loser raises issues that I’ve been thinking about for some time, and found difficult to get very far with.
Sean raises the issue of the way in which the program, which is a ‘reality’ slimming program for those who don’t know raises the issue of discrimination and stigmatisation of certain body images.
Even leaving out things over which people have some control like their weight, the whole issue of appearance – the appearance of people’s faces for instance – is hugely important for their lives as commonsense and the empirical literature demonstrate.
Discrimination on a grand scale is going on, but we don’t really think much of it. For if we did, and we thought it was a bad thing – which we do when it’s discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or whatever – we wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what to do about it. Try to stop people enjoying others’ good looks, disliking others perceived ugliness?
It’s things like this that make a mockery of the ideas we routinely deploy as absolutes (that discrimination is bad and that we should do what we can to stop it.) I’ve wondered about this for a while. How do we draw the line between discrimination we regard as completely beyond the pale – racial discrimination being the worst I guess, though the Taliban don’t do a bad job of sex discrimination – and discrimination that we decide for one reason or another that we won’t do much about – as for instance in the case of appearance.
Does anyone know some insightful stuff on this. I guess it’s the philosophy of discrimination. But when I put “the philosophy of discrimination” into Google, I find umpteen articles on IBM’s or whomever’s philosophy of equal opportunity and so on.
I’d be interested in people’s views and in any material they could refer me to.