August 19, 2022

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How Outdated Magnificence Requirements Fueled Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin's Scams

Picture Supply: Getty/ Kim Kulish/ Timothy A. Clary

For the reason that premiere of real-life legal drama exhibits “The Dropout” and “Inventing Anna,” America has grow to be enraptured with the tales of Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin. Every sequence resulted in numerous hot takes on social media, with discourse round how two girls managed to dupe the nation’s “elite” and heads of multi-million greenback firms, utilizing what turned out to be elaborate schemes.

We’re not right here to debate whether or not the victims of those scams deserved their fates, or whether or not the implications matched the crime, however fairly illuminate one proven fact that has grow to be clear with these tales: these girls have been solely capable of execute scams of this magnitude due to the way in which they appear. It merely wouldn’t have been potential had they been Black.

No, it is not that Black folks ought to have an equal alternative to be scammers. Nevertheless, the truth is that Holmes and Sorokin have been capable of commit these crimes as a result of they met the outdated standards of societally accepted magnificence requirements that favors white, Eurocentric options. Traditionally, white girls have been valued as extra stunning, extra reliable, and extra female than their counterparts. (It is true: till 1940, the principles for Miss America — a pageant devoted to valuing somebody’s “magnificence” — said that contestants should be “of fine well being and of the white race.”)

In consequence, each Holmes and Sorokin have been capable of fly below the radar as they dedicated large-scale fraud.

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What it Pays to Be “Stunning” in america

As a result of whiteness is taken into account the usual of magnificence, meaning Sorokin and Holmes might be perceived as financially dependable and of a sure socioeconomic class, just by current.

Research present that magnificence is instantly associated to monetary success, with enticing folks getting extra name backs for job provides, higher outcomes when negotiating, and fairly frankly the good thing about the doubt. In a examine revealed within the “American Financial Overview,” researchers not solely discovered that employees deemed extra enticing are thought of extra succesful by employers, but additionally that bodily enticing employees have oral expertise (reminiscent of social and communication expertise) which have led to larger wages.

As a result of whiteness is taken into account the usual of magnificence, meaning Sorokin and Holmes — regardless of their assorted appearances and strategy to their magnificence rituals — might be perceived as financially dependable and of a sure socioeconomic class, just by current. The pre-conceived notion that they might be financially dependable or well-off by no means appeared too outlandish as a result of they appeared the half.

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21:  (L-R) Amy Schumer, Katie Couric, Elizabeth Holmes and Jill Soloway attend TIME 100 Gala, TIME's 100 Most Influential People In The World on April 21, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for TIME)
Together with the overall privileges that include becoming inside sure magnificence beliefs, research additionally present that folks like individuals who appear to be them. One sentiment that was typically repeated in “Inventing Anna,” the story about how Sorokin got here to rip-off a few of New York Metropolis’s wealthiest, was that Sorokin simply appeared like she belonged to the higher echelons of society. One fast Google search will present you that this phenotype is often white and thin.

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In an interview on the “Name Me Daddy” podcast, Sorokin herself stated that she discovered it simpler to enter excessive web price areas and ask for big sums of cash, as a result of folks already assumed that she was wealthy, so that they have been extra inclined to offer her what she requested for.

Holmes had fans show up to her trial sporting her signature low bun and black turtleneck, even after it was revealed that she scammed her traders out of cash. That is simply additional proof that becoming the mainstream Eurocentric magnificence commonplace grants you social capital that may guarantee your success regardless of your legal document.

Why Black Girls Have not Had the Privilege of “Mixing In”

When wealth within the US is split amongst a reasonably homogeneous group — white folks — and the nation’s magnificence requirements are equally Westernized, this leaves little to no alternative for Black girls to enter the areas that these girls did with out the scrutiny that comes with being seen as an “different” each bodily and socioeconomically.

The way in which that Black girls have been displaced from conversations surrounding “standard” magnificence, in addition to its accompanying benefits, is systematic. Within the 18th century, Louisiana Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miro enacted the Tignon Legal guidelines requiring Black girls in New Orleans to put on a tignon, a sort of headdress or scarf, to fully conceal their hair. The regulation was enacted as a result of white girls complained that freed Black girls may entice white males with their hair. The scarves would additionally function a social indicator, to not have mild skinned Black girls be mistaken for white girls. It’s only just lately that the CROWN Act, a regulation that goals to ban race-based hair discrimination, has picked up momentum after being handed by the Home of Representatives.

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Traditionally, Black girls have by no means been afforded the chance to “mix in” culturally, socially, or bodily, as a result of the canvas has at all times been white. The battle for higher society to see and settle for Black as stunning — and to assign it the identical social capital and advantages of whiteness — has price Black girls funding for his or her companies, their lifetime incomes potentials, and a number of different socio-economic benefits that their white counterparts get pleasure from.

On the finish of the day, Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin will not be outrageously stunning girls. As a substitute, they’re beneficiaries of a racist society that permits them the reward of un-remarkability. This in flip allowed them room to be audacious — and borderline delusional — within the pursuit of their wishes. These girls used whiteness as their springboards in addition to their safety.

Black folks, and Black girls specifically, will not be afforded that luxurious. Holmes and Sorokin symbolize the very racism that retains Black folks away from the alternatives that their counterparts are afforded, but additionally the society that accepts it as regular — as long as there is a TV present they will watch afterward.