What Is Pretty Privilege? Is It Real?

By: AALIYAH MINNIEWEATHER

Pretty privilege is a term that’s been around for quite a while now. It’s a term that’s used to refer to the special treatment that a girl (or a guy) might receive because she’s pretty or attractive. This special treatment can consist of sometimes receiving things for free when you go shopping, being hired for jobs more frequently than the average person, having a lot of potential mates interested in you, and people just generally treating you nicer than they would other people. 

But why is it like this?

   Why when people see a conventionally or any other type of attractive person, they suddenly go out of their way to treat them well? And why do attractive people receive more opportunities than average or so-called “ugly” people? 

Is there a certain psychology behind this? 

    It turns out that all kinds of positive characteristics can be projected onto an attractive person, other than just being attractive. As an article entitled, “Pretty Privilege: Can You Cheat Life With Your Looks?”, written by Lauren Gerbovaz and published by The Lexington Line puts it, “Did you know that research shows pretty people are viewed as healthier? More persuasive? Make more money? More friendly? Happier? Even if the person judging all of these attributes knows nothing at all about the person, people tend to believe it. So, why is this?” The article went on, “The idea of “pretty privilege” is something that sounds modern, but can be traced back for ages. In our society where male privilege or white privilege (both extremely prevalent) are so well-known and talked about so frequently, the idea of pretty privilege almost sounds like a sham. Contrary to belief, it is actually proven that there are real benefits of being labeled as beautiful under societal expectations. Yet, pretty privilege is continuously ignored.” And it makes sense why we as people, would rather ignore the fact that we’re socially inclined to treat people slightly better if we view them as attractive. Even though they might understand that they might not be completely decent, most people would like to believe that they are decent enough to simply elevate someone based solely off their looks. It’s easier to pretend even a very simple issue doesn’t exist, than to come to terms with it.  

   The practice of pretty privilege has been exaggerated since the rise of social media, particularly with apps such as Instagram and Tik Tok. In an article titled, “What Do People Mean When They Talk About Pretty Privilege?” published by Study Breaks, author Imani Benberry writes, “In everyday moments like making friends or choosing whether to be polite to someone, pretty privilege benefits some. On the video-sharing app TikTok, for instance, posts will go viral as users fawn over the video’s “aesthetic,” often one that is created by the original poster’s outfit, body or good-looking face.” She then writes right afterward, “In that way, the app can feel much like Instagram, where in many instances astronomical differences in likes are in proportion to a person’s perceived facial beauty.” Being pretty and having a social media account seems to be a pretty nifty combination. When someone who is pretty or handsome posts a selfie or photograph of themselves, they are bound to get a lot of likes, retweets, interactions, and followers per photo. People will compliment on how good they like, how cute they are, tell them that they’re “in love with” them, and in recent times, tell them that they’re “blessing their timeline”. The term “bad b***h” or “baddie” has also been coined in recent years to describe a ridiculously pretty woman. In real life, when one is pretty, he or she will be approached by people who want to be their friend, get jobs easier, consistently have people who are romantically interested in them, and ultimately have people rush to their aid when they’re feeling vulnerable. The fact of the matter is, whatever problems an attractive person might have in life, their looks most likely won’t be a source of them. Also, it should be noted that some men will respect women they’re attracted to more than they would other women, but that is another topic for another day. 

To sum it up, yes, pretty privilege does exist in more ways than one. 

Is it right in essence? No. Is there anything we can do to change it? No, probably not. 

What we can do to fix parts of it is, to try looking beneath someone’s facial surface. Try to get to know everyone that you meet instead of being quick to throw labels on someone based on how they look, whether they’re pretty or “ugly”. If we do it this way, at the end of the day, everybody will be happy. No one will feel undermined, or jealous, or undervalued, all because of how they look. 

No one will feel insecure. 

No one will feel unwanted. 

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