Let’s really talk about pretty privilege and what it really means. Essentially, when someone says they have “pretty privilege”, it means they basically have an upper hand in the world and are afforded many opportunities just by being pretty or conventionally attractive. Whether you have experienced it first-hand or not, pretty privilege is something we’re all aware of. Various studies and surveys have proven that our appearance indeed plays a part in how well we are received by others, in both formal and informal settings. And the reality is, many women have experienced the effects of this beauty bias.
We spoke with six women in our community and asked them to share their stories of feeling positively or negatively impacted by pretty privilege, sparking a much needed conversation about archaic beauty standards. Here’s what they had to say.
When I was in my early 20s, I was a bit overweight. All my girlfriends at the time were much slimmer than I was, and all very attractive. I’m not saying I was or am ugly, but I always felt like the uglier friend. Don’t get me wrong, my friends never made me feel bad about my weight or my appearance. In fact, they were my biggest cheerleaders but I could never shake off how things were just easier for them because they were pretty, or prettier than I was. Whenever we would go out, guys would always walk up to them and offer the most extravagant things. A friend of mine used to get 500k monthly allowance from a guy she wasn’t dating or intimate with, just because she was pretty. I eventually lost about 20kg and became a size 10. And believe it or not, people started treating me better.
There are numerous perils that come with being conventionally attractive. For one, forget about making genuine female friends. Sometimes, women will see you as competition just because they’re intimidated by your beauty. I was once best friend’s with a girl who secretly wanted to see me fail. She would smile in my face but cook up false stories about how I had sexually transmitted diseases amongst other things. It was horrible.
Pretty people are better acknowledged in society. Let’s be truthful. I work in marketing, in a very toxic office environment and all the women on the team are slim, or as we all say, slim-thick. One day, I jokingly pointed out how the company only hires attractive women and a male co-worker literally laughed and said something along the lines of “orobo no fit do this job.” which means “a fat person can’t succeed in this job.” I was instantly put off.
My friends always laugh at how hetero men usually want to give me the world. And one thing about me, I never directly ask for things. It just comes easy to me. I know pretty privilege exists because I’ve observed it my whole life; I get showered with gifts, cars and money from men who don’t want anything in return. However, it also has its downsides as you never really know who actually likes you, for you.
My 25-year-old sister is often referred to as the one who got the ‘good looks in the family’ and although I laugh it off, it’s actually a very unkind statement. People don’t realise how hurtful comments like that can be. Sometimes, my extended family will come over to my house and while I’m with them, they’ll ask to see the “pretty sister.” Sometimes I just want to slap the smirk off their faces but I usually just walk away.
Peer pressure forced me to take weight gain pills during the second quarter of the year because asides pretty privilege, these days there’s also thick privilege. Girls who have gotten BBLs or women who are just naturally thick and curvy in the right places are generally treated better, especially by heterosexual men, who we know basically rule the world. Although I gained a bit of tummy weight, my a*s got fatter and I feel more confident. I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been loving the attention too.
*Some names have been changed
Have you ever experienced the effects of pretty privilege? Lets us know in the comments!