Pretty Privilege: The Power Of Beauty

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Photo courtesy @longlifephotography

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And for the most part it is, I’ve never been one to believe that beauty played a major role in whether you can maintain a relationship. Like attracts like. With marriage and relationships, they aren’t reserved to the most beautiful of us, though it can help.

Being attractive, as studies have shown, can help in many different ways. Attractive people are considered funnier, more likable, and smarter than Plain Jane or Joe Shmoe, regardless of whether those attributes are true or not. This boost in perception is often called pretty privilege, the belief that attractiveness can open doors and better treatment. There are all types of privilege- white privilege, male privilege, rich privilege etc. But pretty privilege is unique in that any gender, race, ethnicity can have it. Some people don’t even know they have it since beauty can be subjective. I spent many years being confused and didn’t know I was considered pretty. If you look in the mirror too many times, you start to see the flaws.

But pretty privilege has an expiration date. Most enjoy this privilege from their late teens to their early 30s, some are blessed to have it even longer.

And when you think about it, pretty privilege gives an advantage for certain jobs like make up artists, instagram models, dancers, actors, hairdressers and any sales positions, etc. First impressions are everything. When you’re going to a job interview the first thing a person knows about you is how you look. That could set the mood for the whole interview and even determine whether you get the job.

I really understood how powerful pretty privilege was when I was helping two supermodels find an apartment. They were in their early 20s and looking for an apartment in East Village, NYC. Talk about a trendy place to live. They were gorgeous people. These women were incredibly beautiful, tall and svelte; I could see why they were super models. One of them did runway shows for fashion week in Paris and the other had a campaign with Gucci. There’s no better example of how pretty privilege can truly change your life because these two women made so much money, more than I will make in half my career. High six figures kind of money, just to take pictures and be beautiful, not to mention all the free stuff they got from the designers and free food they get on set. It seemed like an amazing lifestyle and all based on their beauty and attractiveness. Personality-wise these girls were like anyone else. They were introverted, nice enough, and friendly. Yet I felt drawn to get to know them better, helping out these top models was so cool!

My own experience with pretty privilege was not nearly as all-encompassing. I was actually a very ugly child; scrawny, short, and kind of man-ish. It wasn’t until my late teens and early 20s that I realized that I was conventionally attractive. Youth seems to do that to people, you’ll see older people bring out their photos of when they were young and it’s like wow I can’t believe they used to look like that! That was me in my early 20s, sort of blossoming.

Initially, it felt a bit awkward to have men and even women want to get to know me based on nothing but my appearance. I was conventionally beautiful, but because I was an ugly child for what seemed like a lifetime, the attention seemed fake and false as a young adult. Where were these people when I was plain? I used to try and make friends and it didn’t work since I wasn’t as attractive, now all of a sudden I was interesting to people.

Over the years, people’s kindness became more normal to me. I recognized that had I been less attractive I probably wouldn’t get the same amount of attention, but I figured I might as well take advantage while I can. Youth only happens once.

Things people would do that they probably wouldn’t have had I remained unattractive:

1. Give me seats on public transportation when its standing room only.

2. Free food: sometimes as an add on to what I ordered.

3. Free drinks.

4. VIP admission to clubs.

5. Offered to study with me in college (I wasn’t particularly smart or outgoing)

6.. Buy me stuff from small trinkets to tickets to shows.

The attention was really intense from 19-24, then started to level off at 24 after I married, and definitely has leveled off at 30.

Over time I realized that being considered pretty did have some pitfalls. It’s hard to be pretty. ┬áIt was hard to feel close to other women, there was a sense of competition from them and sometimes jealousy. It was also hard to know whether someone was being really generous out of the kindness of their heart or whether it came from a place of attraction. After a while, I just started to assume attraction was the motivation for male kindness; I had met too many men who held expectations in return.

Beauty is also fleeting. I always knew that and never had my self-esteem tied with my outward appearance. Now that I’m 30, it’s clear to me that my most beautiful days are behind me. Everyone in this world gets older; they get a little more tired, they get wrinkles and their hair starts to gray. And though good looks last only a while, it’s taught me to value my other qualities and aspects of my personality above my physical appearance.

Pretty privilege is a gift that you might’ve been given, no different from being born to the right family or in the right country. But just like any other opportunity, it’s what you make out of it that counts. And though it lasts only a short time, a lot can be done in those years you’re considered most beautiful. So consider your beauty a gift, whatever beauty you have, and seize the day to build a future ahead.

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Tags: How to be pretty, look pretty, how to be prettier, being gorgeous, you look pretty, pretty girl problems, pretty sucks, become gorgeous.