The U.S. prison population is the biggest in the world, with an estimated 2.24 million people currently incarcerated. Many will be there for the rest of their lives, while others, even upon release, will still face the countless challenges of rejoining society as a convicted felon. Chief among them: low self-esteem.
It doesn’t help that photos like this one are setting an unrealistic standard of beauty for America’s convicted criminals:
Every day, our media barrages the average felon with images of unattainable beauty, affecting his or her development in ways we’re only beginning to understand. These days, it seems the average car thief, drug dealer, or arsonist is taught from a young age that in order to be considered a true danger to society you must also have piercing blue eyes, perfect bone structure, and full, pouting lips.
“Mugshots like this one send the message that it’s not important what you stole, or who you had to kill to get it, it’s what you look like,” said Lynn Heisler, Warden of the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Ill. “I see these young inmates working out in the yard, utterly dejected by images of attractive, physically fit criminals that they see on TV. I want to tell them it’s what’s inside—the uncontrollable, violent impulses—that truly define them.”
But with so many relentless portrayals of unrealistic felon beauty (like the one pictured above) bombarding our criminal population left and right, many believe that the damage is already done. Is it any wonder that some of these felons end up giving up their life of crime altogether?