If you’ve been following the news, you know that Jodi Arias is a young woman who is currently on trial for the murder of her on again, off again boyfriend, Travis Alexander. It is fascinating in the way that most murder trials are fascinating, in that it makes you wonder who is lying and who is telling the truth, and, if she is guilty, what could lead a woman to stab her boyfriend 27 times, slit his throat, and shoot him. It also reminds me how inadequate the criminal justice system is to reckon with the actions of a woman who, due to abuse, genetics, or other factors, was troubled enough to kill another human being in such a fashion. (She has admitted to killing Alexander, but says it was in self-defense, so “best case scenario,” she is a victim of horrible abuse.)
The details of the case are complicated and worth reading about if you are interested in dark, depressing things, but what I want to talk about right now is the way her appearance has drastically changed from when she was dating Alexander.
As you can see from the above still, Arias is dressed conservatively for court, with brown hair, wispy, awkward bangs, and nerdy glasses. This is a pretty big departure from how she looked a few years ago:
It seems to me that Arias’ appearance is an intentional move on the part of her defense team to try to make her seem more sympathetic and less threatening to jurors. Was this a move based in logic?
Of course it was. Although conventionally attractive people are not actually any more likely to be murderers than “mousey” looking ones, people absolutely judge others for their fashion and beauty choices before learning anything about them. Here’s study (one of many) in which people judged women with “glamorous” makeup to be less trustworthy than their “naturally” made up and non made up counterparts. And just think about all the beautiful-but-deadly “black widow” types we see on TV. And all of the people who convicted Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox in their minds because they were “hot.” This shit is real.
Of course, whether or not the jury actually likes her better as a result of the makeover remains to be seen. There’s a chance it could backfire and be seen as a cheap ploy. But for now, it seems like the reverse makeover was a smart move.