Is Your Life Better with Pretty Privilege?  

Beautyby sagnika sinha03 May 2024

Is Your Life Better With Pretty Privilege?  

I have a “pretty” great personality, and I spend at least ten minutes in front of the mirror! Why? Well, you must go to the end of the page to see if those ten minutes do help me! But before you scroll down to check out my efforts to create a pretty face, why don’t you read what I feel about this pretty face of mine?

Do I find it useful, especially when society is biased towards good looks? Does it open some doors for me in my personal and professional life? I am sharing with you my experiences related to privileged practices, many of which you readers will relate to.

I will also share some of the statistics from various research studies with you! You can also read about the responses I collected from my colleagues and friends through a Google form survey! I will be interpreting the responses and concluding them.

I aim to create deeper research, not just from an academic and data-centric point of view but also from the perspective of how we perceive reality. As a woman, I am anyway considered fragile by society along a large part of my personality is interpreted by how I look. This treatment is comparatively less forced on men even though they are also not spared.

Of course, a tall, dark man is another stereotype that our society prefers over men who might have protruded tummies or are thin. Then we start body-shaming them! The conventional beauty standards defined by society have the power to negatively influence your mindset. I will share details that define how privileged people avoid talking about it with you.

Pretty Privilege: Practice or Bias?

As a working-class woman, I use several products to enhance my beauty features! It is not because I am racial but because I believe in presentability. It is a part of pretty privilege, a small but still a part of it. A lot of my friends and colleagues spent several dollars on beauty procedures to enhance their features.

These features are the conventional beauty standards of society. With the increasing use of social media platforms and discussions on looks and figures, many influencers are making it their livelihood. Young minds are influenced daily, thus morphing their ideas of how to look and be!

The concept of beauty standards has not changed since I grew up! Even when I was a teenager, the social beauty standards were having light-colored eyes, white skin, a large bust, defined waist, curved hips and shoulders along great legs. The world is still highly fixated on outward appearances, the only addition is social media!

Receiving preferential treatment because you identify with the conventional looks of society or some of it, feels pretty good! I will not deny that when a security guard of my office building smiles at me and tilts his head to let me enter the building without checking my ID, I feel like I have earned his trust.

However, the practice of pretty privilege is not just limited to a smile or tilting of the head! The opportunities are several when it comes to pretty privilege because it integrates a sense of trustworthiness just because your looks tally with the social conventional beauty standards. Let us delve deeper into the beauty ideas of society!

What are the Beauty Ideals of the Society?

When I was young, I did not realize the concept and practices of privilege and the preferences I got from it. I was unaware of my appearance impacting how people behaved with me or responded to my approach or interaction.

Maybe that’s why I hardly thought about how to wear attire that would bring out the brown in my eyes or accentuate my figure. But come on, who am I kidding? The whole world is fixated on people, and their outward appearances thus matter a lot.

That is how I realized society’s standard beauty ideals! When a relative asked me to lose weight or a friend of my elder brother complimented me on my blushing cheeks, I realized my appearance mattered more than who I was as a personality.

There were classmates when I was in school who body-shamed me in between a simple conversation of sharing notes. These comments can be harmful because they directly impact the mental health of the people. Imagine if I still remember the comments; it hurts me.

People often get hurt by little things such as body shaming, racial or ethnic comments, or personal attacks that are related to their appearance. When I do not have any control over how I look, I should not be the one to take the brunt of it.

It also does not represent who I am! And yet, society does that to people. ple! It judges them based on their appearance and accordingly treats them. It might be an opportunity or judgment.

Privileged People Avoid Talking about It!

According to a study in 2021, there is a stereotype, “Beauty is good,” which states that if someone is beautiful, they must be morally righteous. Even though there is no proof, people still consider attractive people ethically intact.

If you are attractive according to society’s conventions, you will easily earn the trust of people around you. This is also applicable to strangers, as they tend to think that attractive people are kind and warm.  

People are often considered quite nice if they have an attractive appearance in terms of gender, religion, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, language, ability, and country of origin. If you are an established individual when it comes to

I can describe this belief with the “halo effect” theory, where an individual who is perceived as positive in one aspect is considered positive in others! So, according to this theory, if you are conventionally beautiful, you are kind, intelligent, and empathetic.

Observations Through Survey!

I performed three surveys in my workplace to evaluate the practices related to privilege. I want to explore three perspectives: one from a man’s point of view, another from a woman’s perspective, and the last one on how men influence the practices of pretty privilege.

So, why do you think I am exploring how men influence pretty privileged practices? Simply because, apart from the biases that people have based on looks, men often suffer from practices against them where they are at a disadvantage.

Here also, the society is practicing biases as women are considered; thus, they are the default subject of the privilege. Therefore, we must realize and spread awareness regarding men being victims of privileged practices. So, I have collected ten responses to understand the role of men and its significance.

Thirteen men answered the question of a pretty privileged existence by completely agreeing to it! Can you imagine if a man thinks there is a pretty privilege? Of course, they have either been the ones practicing it or have been victims of it.

Another question I asked the men was whether “pretty privilege” exists for them, and about 76.9% of individuals seemed to agree. However, I guess most of my male colleagues have not experienced any opportunities because of their looks—wink!

About 76.9% of men stated that they feel like they have not received preferential treatment because of their appearance. But here is my dilemma! Do you think when someone gets preferential treatment because of how they look, they realize that? Or is it more like they consider this natural, the biased treatment they receive?

Most of the men were asked about one incident in their lives that impacted their outcome because of their privilege. One individual feels that these treatments are persistent even if they haven’t faced them directly. Another said they have never faced anything of the privilege practice.

Instead, they feel that for men, “educational background, communication skills and family history” matters. He also thinks that privilege creates perception and interaction among people based on their appearance, where the manifestation can differ.

Some people receive social advantages, opportunities, and better treatment because of their physical attractiveness. In different spheres of life, professional, academic, and personal life experience, privilege shapes their life. However, another man said he stood in a queue and got preference because of his appearance!

There was also an experience where a man shared that his schoolteachers often made assumptions regarding his upbringing and conditions. These assumptions were made based on their skin color and how they looked.

I then evaluated the perspectives of twelve women in my workplace. And lo and behold, about 91.7 % of the women agreed that pretty privilege exists in society. There is a question about women being asked about any advantages or disadvantages they have experienced based on their physical appearance. 

41.7% of women claimed that they had experienced both. 33.3% had only faced advantages by their appearance, while 25% had not experienced anything regarding pretty privilege. The next question asked the women about the places where pretty privilege is most prevalent, namely, the workplace, social settings, and the legal system.

While answering these questions, 83.3% of 12 women thought that pretty privilege is present in social settings. None of the women thought that the legal system is not a place where pretty privileged practices exist, while 16.7% believed that it does exist in the workplace.

Finally, there was also the question of how privileged practices impact women’s work opportunities. The women agreed that privilege was acceptable, but they described other aspects. One woman claims that pretty privilege helps in building their career, receiving maternity leaves, applying for work-from-home culture, and others!

Another woman claimed that if a person, be it a man or woman, does not conform to the social standards of looks, self-worth, and self-esteem are negatively impacted, as it is quite harmful. 83.3% of women think that privilege greatly contributes to societal beauty standards.

Most of my female colleagues feel pressured due to certain societal beauty standards. 58.3% of women agree they feel the pressure, while 16.7% are confused. 25% of women do not agree that they face pressure regarding pretty privileged practices.

How Men Play an Important Role?

Here, I evaluate the influence of men on pretty privileged practices because this matters a lot in society! My first question to the male responders was, would you approach a woman who matches the conventional beauty standards if you attend a networking event?

40% of respondents are confused—they neither agree nor disagree! Apart from that, 20% of individuals agree, while 30% of individuals disagree about approaching a woman fitting the conventional beauty standards. I questioned the women regarding different levels of conventional attractiveness, and the women stated that about 60% agreed to it.

Most individuals completely disagreed with the fact proposed in the question where people are inclined towards supporting more attractive women! About 90% of the responses were negative. I also had a question about the factors that explain why a conventionally beautiful woman receives better treatment than a less attractive woman.

50% of individuals think it is due to behavior, while 40% of responses agreed that good-looking women receive more preference because of their appearance. 10% of responses think it is women’s personalities that cause bias!

Regarding social gatherings, there are several layers or levels of attractiveness according to the women! All the responders agree that men interact differently when there is a different appearance for each woman they talk to.

So, Why Should We Talk about it?

It is real! You guys, there are several benefits associated with conforming to society’s beauty ideals. In the long term, you will benefit. “Pretty Privilege” is just a term that the internet has coined to describe these benefits!

Can you imagine someone who is a young, thin, non-disabled figure, cis-gendered, white, and has sharp features? When you are thinking about a person with these features, you first assume that they must be beautiful and kind! But that might not be the case.

Similarly, if you know someone who is not exactly beautiful per society’s standards, you might be facing a lot of judgment on how you are. The worst part is that most of those assumptions might not even be true. So, now the question is, what should we do about it? Not a damn thing!

The first step towards resolving this concern is addressing it by being more kind, more empathetic, less judgmental, and less of an ass to people. Kindness goes a long way to highlight that it is not the appearance of a significant person but the way they treat others.

We must talk about it because celebrities, youth icons, and K-pop idols have recently experienced the biggest privilege! For example, if they speak to an interviewer rudely, fans consider it savage, or if K-pop members insult each other or celebrities comment on other celebrities!

A group of fans are always there justifying the actions of their icons or idols by saying they might be like siblings or just comfortable with each other. A K-pop group, Blackpink, which has been in the making for five years, advertises itself with its appearance instead of just its music.

Toxicity

The visuals of the K-Pop female group Blackpink are more significant than their content or just their music. Celebrities, be it Hollywood or K-Pop artists, are paid to maintain their figure, appearance, and look. Recently, controversial issues regarding the treatment of K-pop idols have come to light.

Individuals have been trained and kept under brutal conditions to become idols, which included restrictive diets along with rigorous dance routines, suffer injuries and exhaustion. Case in point, Momo from TWICE K-pop group has revealed that even before she made her debut, she lost 7 kg.

It was on the company’s order that she lost weight because she would not qualify for the next round of her selection without losing weight, which would lead her to the stage! The company has set a maximum weight requirement of 54 kg. Yanagi Mizuho disclosed this in an interview with a CNA interviewer!

An agency tries to establish a certain weight limit for all artists and allows them to eat only 300 calories (about 24 minutes of running). If all artists maintain these policies, only then can they make it up to become members of the bands. These broader issues highlight the toxicity that privilege brings with them.

Psychological Impacts

If we are discussing the psychological impacts of pretty privilege, I must talk about the perspective of a psychologist! Judy Ho, a California-based clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, informs us that pretty privilege might be one of the reasons for evolution. The faces are more symmetric, and conventionally, they are more attractive!

Psychologists confirm that the symmetrical formation of faces correlates with biological strength. Therefore, in simpler words, if you have a symmetrical face, you have a higher chance of fitting into society; thus, you might have stronger genes! Survival is your way to go because you receive more opportunities!

Have you heard about the “Halo Effect”? When you find one thing good in a person, you think all their characteristics are good. The first good trait often considered in an individual is usually related to good looks or appearances.

So, isn’t it natural for us to assume that if someone is beautiful, they are funny and talented? But what if this is how a person’s appearance psychologically influences others to think better of them? But let’s not finish the discussion here because we are talking about women, ladies and gentlemen.

In the tough world, doing anything and everything is difficult, especially when several stereotypes are involved. So, if a girl is beautiful, we sometimes assume she might be shallow and dumb!

Social Elements Influencing Current Beauty Standards

The current beauty standards are promoted by short films, series, and movies showcasing handsome hunks and beautiful women. It is the world of the internet, which networks and influences people across the globe through social media platforms. Be it from TikTok videos or Instagram reels, influencers have power over many people!

Thousands of millions of people watch these reels and videos daily, getting inspired to follow these beauty standards. I have always been chubby; however, my body shape has been a topic for my relatives and family friends. They have always been more concerned than me about my body. It’s weird, huh?

Not exactly; it is the so-called beauty standards that have been established by society that influence them to feel entitled. They think they have the way as to how I look or rather how I should look! Wait, this is not all. I have a thin cousin who does not have one iota of fat on their body!

Guess what? The relative does not even leave her bed! They keep telling her she needs some curves! Now, what should we do? Do I give some of my fat to her? Are any of us in control of our body shape? Yes, I agree that it is important for us to maintain good health, a fit body, and immunity, but that can be anyone.

I can be immune with a fit body and good health, or my cousin can be! So, coming to the starting point, we realize that outer appearance does not matter in terms of fitness and good health. Yet, society is only concerned about the prescribed and promoted beauty standards online!

Intersectionality!

Different types of privilege influence an individual! This is where intersectionality comes in, as being white, social, female, thin, or having certain physical characteristics is considered better. These aspects are establishing beauty standards so high that it leads to severe, dangerous outcomes along with toxic behavior and attitude.

Influencers are mostly attractive people who create content setting beauty and body standards worldwide! They are the groundwork on which men and women are working hard to measure themselves; unfortunately, this is impacting their mental health.

Some are also suffering physically as improper dieting, fasting, and others lead to several physical disorders! People are also suffering from body dysmorphic disorder once they start hating themselves, their body, and their appearance.

Anorexia, bulimia, avoidant restrictive food intake disorder, rumination, and binge eating disorders are some of the aspects that are the outcome of pretty privilege; how you look leads to hurting your body to conform to the social norms of appearance! Can you imagine the extent to which looking pretty can take it?

Negative emotions and thoughts become quite common when you worry about your appearance. You hate it when you look in the mirror, which causes disruptive thoughts. Your physical well-being and mental health get heavily hit with all these emotions and perceptions of what is pretty!

Types of Pretty Privilege Benefits Drawbacks 
White Privilege Can book anything, house, car, or other assets without being asked about financial statusPeople think they are dumb or shallow! 
Female Privilege Gets to receive more opportunities in terms of personal and professional growthPeople think they are ladies, Golddiggers, and other such manipulating perspectives.
Social Privilege Gets to enter any hotel or restaurant without being asked anythingPeople might feel underconfident in achieving the best because they are comfortable!

White Privilege

Race is the term that I would like to highlight when it comes to practices related to white privilege! When it comes to white people from Europe or America, they have always considered themselves superior as compared to people with dark skin tones.

I am not addressing the white privilege issue as just something limited to the countries! Even in online communication, white privilege has its influence on polarization and participation, demeaning responses, and engagement of minority groups.

We cannot forget how white privilege is not just about race but also about culture. Even the culture is influenced so that people receive never-ending benefits. For example, Dr. Sarah Bishop explains that if you conform to the beauty standards your culture has established, you have advantages.

This is what we call white privilege! It is the common expectation of people globally to have fairer skin. Somehow, a stereotype has been established where a fair skin tone is considered a superior feature. I have faced this distinction many times because I am fair; many of my friends claim that I do not need makeup!

It might add to my vanity for a few moments, but it also reminds me how I am stuck in the cycle of privilege, its benefits and shortcomings.

Female Privilege

Females are one of the most obvious genders and are on the spectrum of beauty ideals. Beauty is completely subjective, yet it is the beauty standards that determine our quality of life, along with skills, personality, and talents.

All these aspects completely override how people see you for the first time because it is always about the looks! You may be a difficult individual to live with or stay friends for long because you are selfish, but if someone meets you for the first time, they will see a woman, an entity that might need help or is dependent on someone.

Even with the modern lifestyle and world, even with women working on the same level as men and performing even better than men, men still feel the need to provide for and protect their women. It is ingrained in them.

Therefore, even when they meet a ruthless CEO of an organization, they will still see a woman in need of guidance and support. It is ingrained in them to consider a woman who might not know everything, and the women may sometimes use this to the best of their advantage.

This is a pretty privilege, as women can influence men into thinking they need help and learn all about their business. This is significant when it comes to influencing and manipulation in the business world.

Social Privilege

We might as a society like to claim that “beauty is only skin deep,” but physical attractiveness has become a social commodity in our lives. From personal preferences to workplace opportunities, it is a common practice to observe appearances, presentability, and style to determine whether a person is capable enough.

Social privilege, in terms of financial stability and status, comes when you receive benefits for factors you have no hand in! If you are attractive, you might receive a well-paid job opportunity. How can we forget the recruitment processes in the Hotel Management, Flight Crews, and Entertainment industries?

Looks are more important when driving home the perspective—we are selling beauty to earn! Attraction is not just about liking something; it is about liking it enough to turn it into a standard. Social standards are an approach that helps you consider the consequences of privilege.

Finishing off…

To sum up, I would like to say that as the days go by, I feel like I am under a lot of pressure to look beautiful! I try to maintain the luster in my dark hair while I keep wishing that my skin glows as if it is not aging! Furthermore, I use hair products that will prevent my hair from falling.

I need to control any bloating and try not to let any fat get attached to my body. Of course, I need to look fragile to keep my feminine energy in front of society. I keep reminding myself that this is not the self-love I promised myself.

Instead, I am checking out low-carb food items and skin care that will keep my skin supple! I should be thin and waving so that men in my life feel the urge to protect me! Of course, it is not me; it is society because even when I try my best, there are times that I am reminded that something or other aspects of mine are not conforming to the social standards of beauty ideas.

Appearances might open a few doors for you, but you will also face the burden that comes with it. Comment on what you suffer from regarding privilege and its impact on you!

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sagnika sinha

Sagnika Sinha is a content writer who is passionate about writing travel vlogs, entertainment and celebrity articles and literature-based pieces. With a 4 years experience in teaching, she loves reading books. A procrastinator by nature, she loves travelling, listening to music, planting and gardening.

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