How Outdated Magnificence Requirements Fueled Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin’s Scams

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

Because the premiere of real-life felony drama reveals “The Dropout” and “Inventing Anna,” America has develop into enraptured with the tales of Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin. Every collection 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 dollar companies, 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 results matched the crime, however somewhat illuminate one undeniable fact that has develop into clear with these tales: these girls had been solely capable of execute scams of this magnitude due to the way in which they give the impression of being. It merely wouldn’t have been potential had they been Black.

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Nevertheless, the truth is that Holmes and Sorokin had been capable of commit these crimes as a result of they met the outdated standards of societally accepted magnificence requirements that favors white, Eurocentric options.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

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

What it Pays to Be “Lovely” in the US

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

Studies show that beauty is directly related to financial success, with enticing individuals getting extra name backs for job provides, higher outcomes when negotiating, and fairly frankly the advantage of the doubt. In a study published in the “American Economic Review,” researchers not solely discovered that employees deemed extra enticing are thought-about extra succesful by employers, but additionally that bodily enticing employees have oral abilities (resembling social and communication abilities) which have led to increased wages.

As a result of whiteness is taken into account the usual of magnificence, which means Sorokin and Holmes — regardless of their diversified 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 people like people who look like 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.

In an interview on the “Call Me Daddy” podcast, Sorokin herself mentioned that she discovered it simpler to enter excessive internet value areas and ask for big sums of cash, as a result of individuals already assumed that she was wealthy, in order that they had 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 buyers out of cash. That is simply additional proof that becoming the mainstream Eurocentric magnificence customary grants you social capital that may guarantee your success regardless of your felony 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 individuals — 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 Laws 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 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.

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 all the time been white. The battle for larger society to see and settle for Black as lovely — and to assign it the identical social capital and advantages of whiteness — has value Black girls funding for their businesses, their lifetime earning potentials, and a bunch of different socio-economic advantages that their white counterparts get pleasure from.

On the finish of the day, Elizabeth Holmes and Anna Sorokin should not outrageously lovely 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 needs. These girls used whiteness as their springboards in addition to their safety.

Black individuals, and Black girls particularly, should not afforded that luxurious. Holmes and Sorokin characterize the very racism that retains Black individuals 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.

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