Browse all

Does pretty privilege exist? The answer is yes

Being pretty is not a crime, but it might be a privilege

Does pretty privilege exist? The answer is yes  Being pretty is not a crime, but it might be a privilege

It is commonly believed that people who are beautiful, thin and white (in short: who come as close as possible to traditional beauty standards), have an easier life. There is some truth to this. If you are attractive, you can please others more easily and generally get through life with fewer problems.

Is there a pretty privilege?

Of course, pretty privilege, when viewed in absolute terms, is a silly, short-sighted and superficial issue. However, that a cis, white and thin woman has more chances in life than a transsexual, disabled, fat, black or minority woman is indisputable. And even within these minorities, the prettier you are, the less trouble you have.

A question of contextualisation

To understand what this expression means, one has to contextualise it and link it to other social issues and concerns such as fatphobia, racism, ageism, transphobia and ableism, to understand what it means to be discriminated against and to know that there is indeed discrimination that is more severe than others.

Beauty is a privilege

Not only that, not everyone can afford to be beautiful. Especially if we take Hollywood stars as an example and benchmark. Beauty treatments, make-up, fashionable clothes and healthy food can be an unattainable luxury for a group of women just above or below the poverty line who, without being "presentable" or "pleasing to the eye", cannot get a job or are not allowed in some places. This is also where the economic aspect comes into play, which cannot be ignored and adds to the layers and intersections already mentioned.

@madelineaford #stitch with @sandraadly_ back at it again to expose the secret life of being a model <3 #prettyprivilege #model #fyp original sound - madeline ford

What if it doesn't exist?

Not everyone, however, is convinced that there is a pretty privilege. A few users on Twitter and TikTok have challenged this axiom, pointing out that in their opinion prettier girls suffer more often from a certain kind of harassing attention, in public and from men. And the discussion is flaring up. The insinuation by these users that women who do not conform to beauty norms do not suffer violence (whether verbal or physical is irrelevant here) shifts the focus of harassment from the level of power to that of attraction, opening itself up to very dangerous interpretations and implications.

Dangerous implications

Saying that only pretty girls are victims of assault because of their gender and appearance is actually denying a terrible reality, but one to which one cannot close one's eyes, namely that women in weak positions and thus with less power in society have always been the perfect target for these kinds of acts based on the idea of male power over women and not on the actual desirability of the female body, as trans writer Gretchen Felker-Martin, author of the dystopian novel Manhunt, has explained very well.

What the data says

The data speaks for itself. According to the United Nations, women with disabilities are at least twice as likely to be sexually assaulted as the female population as a whole. According to the William Institute at UCLA Law School, transgender people are four times more likely to experience violent crimes such as rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault or simple assault than same-sex people. And that's pretty, cis and abled privilege at its finest.