“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains

A 1902 book called Vaught's Practical Character Reader, scanned and posted on Sociological Images, demonstrates the false assumption that you can assess a person's character based on his or her physical appearance.

As the blogger, Gwen, points out:

The book is full of images in which the features stereotypically associated with Northern and Western Europeans, or the mythical Aryan race, are associated with sincerity, honestly, a work ethic, and every other positive character trait, whereas large and especially hooked noses and small, hooded, or almond-shaped eyes were indications of negative traits.

What's interesting is that many of these "deceitful" and "unreliable" characteristics are the same ones used to illustrate Disney villains. While Jasmine and Aladdin had large eyes and small noses, look at their enemy, Jafar:


“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains

Slanted eyes and a twisted, hooked nose. That's how we "know" he is bad. That's what evil "looks" like.


Snow White had a button sniffer; the evil witch had a large, hooked, decidedly non-Caucasian nose :


“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains


The book also speaks of "deceitful" chins:


“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains




Much like Cruella de Vil:


“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains




Additionally, Ben Franklin types — and Native Americans — are deemed "vicious," because they have broad heads.

“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains

Reminiscent of Ursula the sea witch:


“Practical Character Reader" A Lesson In Xenophobia, Racism & Disney Villains


While this book is outdated, the idea that you can judge a person by his appearance persists; we often hear people say a woman has "intelligent eyes" or a guy looks like "he couldn't hurt a fly." Even worse are terms like "baby-faced killer," as though one has anything to do with the other.

Helpful Guide to Human Character [Sociological Images]