The fashion world and major modeling agencies were shaken today by news that the National Association for Ugly People (NAUP) has sued a wide group of designers, agencies and photographers, alleging that the defendants have engaged in a widespread conspiracy of illegal discrimination against less-attractive people.
“For too long, it’s been acceptable for pretty women and hunky men to be on the front covers of magazines and strutting down fashion runways,” said Fenster Beckworth, the executive director of NAUP. “Our members have been the invisible people of this world, cleaning their toilets, cooking their meals and running their cash registers. It’s time for ugly people to get their day in the limelight.”
Beckworth said because ugliness is a birth defect that many people have no control over, it is covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act and that discriminating on the basis of looks is flatly illegal.
Bertha Dalrymple, 36, of Wilmington Heights, Tenn., is the lead plaintiff in the suit. (See photo provided by NAUP.) Beckworth said Dalrymple has tried unsuccessfully for more than 15 years to get modeling jobs, but she’s been turned down despite having high qualifications. Dalrymple took several years of modeling classes as a teen-ager and is a member of multiple professional organizations.
“I should be the one wearing some slinky thing and walking down the runway this year,” Dalrymple said. “I should be the one on the cover of Vogue wearing the latest fashions from Paris. I should be the one in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Why should attractive women get all the jobs and the glory?”
Dalrymple said that in addition to millions of dollars in modeling income she has lost to more attractive women, she’s seeking punitive damages because of the effect of the discrimination on her psyche. She said the emotional trauma has hurt her confidence and made it harder to get dates with desirable men.
Spokespeople for all of the agencies and individuals named in the suit declined to comment on the record, because their employers were just receiving legal documents outlining the case. A representative for one agency spoke briefly on the condition he not be identified. On learning of the allegation that illegal discrimination was the source of Dalrymple’s dating woes, the spokesman eventually quit laughing long enough to gasp, “Have you seen that hag? Can you imagine being seen with her? Can you imagine kissing her?”
“This is what our members face each day,” Beckworth said. “We’re treated as though we’re less desirable in the world. It’s time for that to end. The pretty people have had their day, but we are turning to the power of the federal government to right this gross miscarriage of justice.”
Although Beckworth said one lawsuit is enough for now, he did hint that his organization has its eyes on dating websites that allow members to choose dates according to attractiveness as well.
“This is the beginning of a new age,” he said. “We’re not going to stop until Bertha’s picture is on magazines at your grocery store’s checkout stand and she has dates with good-looking football players. The law is on our side and we’re going to use the sword of the state to give us what the accident of our birth did not.”
The federal lawsuit is expected to have an initial hearing by August in a Washington, D.C., Federal District Court. Several disabilities rights groups have announced plans to file briefs on the side of the NAUP.