I was waiting in the La Madeleine Bakery and Café queue when I noticed a man in his mid 20’s approach two women seated at a table. One of the women had light neutral blonde hair and was wearing a bright yellow dress complimenting her green eyes. She looked beautiful and seemed pretty tall. He requested to get her number which she politely declined. Before he left, he paid the barista for the young woman’s coffee and breakfast with his phone number on a piece of napkin. The lady, though, seemed a bit annoyed than appreciative after finding out the gentleman had made her payment and left his number even after her rejection. I didn’t blame her for being upset.
This incident I had just witnessed made me question if being pretty was a privilege or a curse. However, I do agree that being physically attractive does have many benefits. For example, a good-looking person has a higher chance of getting a job, a date, less severe sentences, and store discounts. But being attractive has as many downsides.
“ALL THE GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD”
Not everything that looks precious or true turns out to be so. For example, Lauren, a Doctoral Candidate of Clinical Psychology, has stated that “When someone is deemed pretty, they are presumed to be hardworking, kind, and funny- you name it.” People that are considered attractive are compelled to always live up to high standards. Psychologists believe the Halo Effect is why we subconsciously assume people’s appearances reflect their overall characters. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that physically attractive individuals are perceived as more “sociable, dominant, sexually warm, mentally healthy, intelligent, and socially skilled” (Feingold, 1992). Like in South Asia, when a person is attractive and well mannered, he/she is viewed as ‘smart.’ Girls who are lighter skin are treated favorably and get more employment opportunities and marriage proposals.
“MAYBE ITS MAYBELLINE, OR MAYBE ITS A FILTER”
Social media has made it more damaging for young women in this generation. Instagram and Snapchat filters that alter our facial features have messed with our perception so intensely that we believe that is how we should look in reality. So when one of our pretty friends uploads a selfie, we can’t help but compare ourselves to them harming our mental health. It has become a competition for young girls to be seen as attractive and become famous. For this reason, women are more likely to have low self-esteem and be lonely. An Article in 2018 stated the females have been getting plastic surgery done to look more like their Snapchat filter, known as ‘Snapchat dysmorphia.’ Around 55% of facial plastic surgeons report seeing patients seeking operations to look better in selfies. Teen girls desire to be like the models and influencers they see on social media, even if they are beautiful the way they are.
BEAUTY VS THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Aside from friends being envious of you, good-looking young girls are likely to be sex trafficked. In a recent article by Tina Frundt, during slavery, girls of color with lighter complexion known as ‘Fancy girls’ were sold for sex at a five times higher price than those enslaved for labor. Sex trafficking of young and attractive women of color to white males is still taking place in many countries. Unfortunately, only a few of those men are held accountable and put behind bars.
Research has also shown that people are more likely to believe sexual harassment claims by young and attractive women who act more feminine. For example, the University of Washington asked a group of people to draw two women, one likely to be sexually harassed and another who wouldn’t be in such a situation. The result showed that looks matter even in harassment allegations. Furthermore, there is physical attractiveness bias in the legal system. Good-looking women serve fewer sentences while unattractive defendants get severer punishments.
IT’S EASIER WHEN YOU ARE PRETTY
In my opinion, being pretty is a privilege that society needs to accept. Attractive people are more readily accepted into society while others have to work for it. But, yes, there are a few disadvantages with pretty privilege, life is not always rainbow and ice-cream. People need to stop being bias and understand that looks don’t define a person’s character and that beauty comes from within.
Written By: Mubina C