In the article Rate My ProfessorsAppearance.com*, Kerry Soper, an associate professor at Brigham Young University, complaints that only good looking and youthful instructors get red-hot chili peppers rating on RateMyProfessors.com. Soper suggests to the website’s webmasters to add other icons to the website to reflect the diversity of appearances represented by the instructors. Soper argues that the appearance of an instructor is a window into the personality and beliefs of the instructor.
Soper offers specific recommendations regarding icons to represent the diverse range of personalities. He suggests The Pizza Slice icon for over-40 instructors who make an attempt to look young. The Expresso Cup is suggested for instructors with coherent style while The Lump of Tofu suits instructors who promote vegetarian lifestyle. The Half-Eaten Protein Bar is for the instructors who work out at the gym while The Pressed Flower represents instructors who might have been attractive at some point in their lives. The Bow Tie represents those instructors who adhere to once-popular formal dress code while The Cassava Root tells us that the instructor is a frequent traveler and has been exposed to numerous cultures. The Pocket Protector is for instructors who are nerdy while The Pina Colada represents instructors with style usually seen on the beaches. The Crystal represents instructors who are interested in new age ideas while The Harmonica is for instructors from upper-middle class backgrounds. Lastly, The Power Tie represents instructors with former work experience in Corporate America.
Soper’s main argument is that the appearance of the professors reflects their beliefs and personalities. The author provides several reasons in support of his argument. For example, he claims that The Pizza Slice or instructors who want to look youthful wear dresses that are funky and trendy. Similarly, The Cassava Root instructors wear dresses from different cultures which shows their appreciation for cultural diversity. The Power Tie instructors maintain the dress code from their days in Corporate America and also appear loyal to Republican ideology. The argument made by Soper doesn’t seem to be deductively valid because two individuals with different personalities may still have similar appearances. Similarly, appearances or fashion sense are often a matter of personal taste or habits rather than the outcome of one’s belief system. A person who wears trendy clothes may simply be the one who likes fashion rather than being driven by a desire to look youthful. The evidence is not very strong because going by authors’ arguments, all the people in Corporate America have Republican ideology or all people who travel wear cross-cultural attire.
The author doesn’t address the opposing arguments anywhere in the article but that may be because the article is mostly satirical rather than a serious debate. I do trust the author because he himself is a professional in the academic sector, being an associate professor at Brigham Young University and has had the opportunity to observe instructors with different personalities. The author does indicate his knowledge by providing numerous examples of the appearances usually adopted by instructors and this very knowledge is the basis of categories he recommends to webmasters of RateMyProfessors.com. The author doesn’t seem to be making any emotional appeal because the tone of the article is satirical mostly and it is difficult to tell if the author really desires the webmasters at RateMyProfessors.com to take his suggestions seriously. I don’t agree with the author because appearances tell us little or nothing about the person and the author’s recommendations will only strengthen stereotypes.