First published on Saturday the 23rd of March, 2019, this piece comes in at number 6 in the top 30 most read Villainesse stories of 2019.
Being pretty is a privilege. Being pretty opens doors that are closed for so many others. Being pretty brings power and prosperity.
How? From an incredibly young age, the importance of being ‘pretty’ is forced upon girls and women. For as long as we can remember, we’re taught to emulate a feminine aesthetic of shaved legs, nice makeup and pink ‘girly’ clothing. This societal influence has led to the female population being divided into two groups: those who are pretty and those who are not. Or, to put it another way, those who are rewarded arbitrarily for their appearances, and those who are not.
According to Allure’s Janet Mock, “Pretty privilege can give way to more popularity, higher grades, more positive work reviews, and career advancement... This is also conditional and is not often extended to women who are trans, black, brown, disabled, older, or fat.” Being pretty can make life a lot easier. And being thought of as unattractive can have the opposite effect.
Young people who are less attractive throughout their school years grow up being asked out as a joke, resorting to the title of ‘funny friend’ because looks simply aren’t enough, waiting anxiously for puberty and praying for a glow up, the list goes on. For the kids who were never head-turners growing up, it can be a lot harder to earn respect and gain friends. Because of these imposed superficial standards that must be met, the two groups of people can experience very different upbringings.
Though it might not be immediately obvious. If you are benefiting from a certain privilege, you often don’t realise it. As a white person, I often take my skin colour for granted. I don’t know what it is like to experience racism. Does a pretty person know what it is like to be bullied purely because of their appearance?
“If we are to dismantle these systems and hierarchies, we have to be honest,” Mock writes. Pretty people need to be aware that beauty can often undermine other attributes in the male gaze. The first thing that needs to be done to address privilege is to be aware that you have it, and be aware that it does benefit you.
It can be as simple as putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and imagining what it would be like to be them. We can’t control our genes, and we’re all beautiful in our own unique ways, but taking a long hard look in the mirror could be the first step to understanding how our appearances have an impact upon our experiences.Support Villainesse