Aside from being sexy, what do Stella Carlin, TJ Lane, and Jeremy Meeks have in common? They are criminals. Although Stella Carlin is a fictional character on the third season of Orange is the New Black, her role as the sexy new love interest lends itself to the newfound trend of admiring criminal’s physicality. It’s one thing if characters are sexualized, but an entire other field if actual convicts like high school shooter Lane and alleged gang member Meeks gain a following for being attractive. Idolizing criminals minimizes the seriousness of criminal activity and causes people to root for them instead of against them. Being conventionally attractive in this society helps excuse people from immoral behaviors.
Sexualizing felons shows young girls that it is okay to be attracted to a person who acts indecently. The fact that 17 year old Ohio shooter TJ Lane wore a shirt that said “killer” to his trial for three counts of aggravated murder was not enough to stop girls on Tumblr from making .gifs of him biting his lip in court and titling their blogs “TJ Lane’s Future Wife.” According to this mentality, violence is a good quality to look for in a potential partner. These girls showing their support for a corrupt yet attractive person further enforces a violent and abusive ideal
To further minimize the crimes committed by conventionally attractive convicts, Jeremy Meeks has acquired the nickname “model prisoner” after his sexy mug shot gained him a rumored modeling career. Through an account his mom set up, fans online raised enough money for his $1 million bail. Even if rumors about the modeling contract are false, fans of the hot prisoner spent a great deal of their own money to release a man who is spending over two years in jail for gang related crimes. The women rallied behind Meeks as if they are attracted to the danger of the incarcerated bad boy.
And Orange is the New Black is not helping the cause by featuring naked shower scenes and making the main plot line of the show revolve around the relationships between inmates and prison guards. The show makes prison, a place of punishment, seem glamorous.The women of Orange is the New Black always have their hair and make-up done perfectly, giving no room for the reality of the griminess of actual penitentiaries. It is sending the message that being attractive makes life easy no matter what the circumstances.
Everything, including good looks, has a downside. The constant pressure to maintain appearance and live up to societal standards can lead to low self esteem and continuous comparison to people on TV and in magazines. However, it can have a counter effect, causing attractive people to rebel against the ideals, take the easy road, and believe they literally can get away with murder. It can be easy to separate looks from actions, especially if you have never met the person in real life, but attractiveness is not is excuse for theft, gang relations, or even murder. If people continue to buy into this idea, they are only contributing to maintaining and recreating a superficial world centered on appearance. A world where we judge a person by their mug shot and not by their actions.