“I think people treat you differently on initial meetings if you’re more attractive. They kinda focus their attention and give more benefit of the doubt to a prettier girl.”
This was my friend’s reply when I asked her whether pretty privilege was a thing.
If you haven’t heard of pretty privilege, Urban Dictionary describes it as “someone who gets more clout (a sense of power or influence), opportunities, and becomes more successful in life because of how attractive they are.”
I wanted to see if it was just me, or whether other people thought that more attractive people had an advantage in life – as a result, I created a Twitter poll.
Of the 138 people who voted on the poll, 96.4% of them thought that pretty privilege was present in society, while only 3.6% of them thought not.
Is pretty privilege a thing?
— 𝚗𝚊𝚒𝚛𝚘𝚋𝚒 𝚊𝚌𝚔𝚎𝚛𝚖𝚊𝚗 ❤︎ (@kenya_best) November 9, 2020
I wanted to see whether my friends’ thoughts were coherent with the results of the poll, so I gathered them in a focus group-like setting and let them discuss amongst themselves.
“Yes, attractive people get discounts or are often given things free, but this privilege is usually beneficial for companies. For example, night clubs – women get in either for free or at reduced prices, because more women in the club will attract more men. Most of these clubs rely on men to spend money, either on themselves or on the woman they want to attract. Either way, it’s a trade.”
While listening to them, I started to realise that this privilege is more in favour of women compared to men. Men almost seem like they are being exploited.
“This privilege exists because men make it exist. It doesn’t take much to make them excited. Blink your eyes twice and then smile and you have them wrapped around your finger.”
At that statement, everyone started to talk above each other. It was a woman who made that statement and the men took great offence.
“Men have this privilege too. This guy I knew, before he got his license, girls would drive him wherever he wanted to go for free, just because he was good looking. If it was an ugly man, he would have to walk.”
Yet still, the majority still agreed that pretty privilege works best with women. One friend even pointed out that the pretty privilege for men only works if the girl likes the guy.
“Unless the woman likes the guy, no matter how attractive he is, he’s seen as a creep if he tries to use his looks for his advantage.”
Social media has really enhanced the notion of pretty privilege and this privilege can set you on the path of success.
An example of this can be seen in Bella Poarch, who has approximately 40 million followers on TikTok after posting a video of her lip-syncing.
This video has drawn in half a billion likes, making it the most liked video on TikTok. However, many still question what exactly her talents are and why she became so famous in such a short span of time.
People says why is she famous theres only one answer she’s cute
— MindofEd (@mind_of_ed) September 16, 2020
why is bella poarch famous for doing the bare minimum and why can’t that be me
— shirley (@shirleyumami) October 16, 2020
“Beauty ideals are very much influenced by the media and advertising industries.” Many companies rely on influence marketing to generate revenue – and of course, they are usually influencers who are revered online for being attractive.
A study by Haenlein et al titled “Navigating the new era of influencer marketing” published 13 October 2020, has said that “few firms in the fashion, beauty, travel, food, or beverage industries are running marketing campaigns these days that do not include, at least to some share, a collaboration with popular users on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.”
While there is no universal measure of beauty, different regions still have a level in which people fall into for them to receive pretty privilege.
Pretty privilege is a construct of this social media era that both companies and individuals have taken advantage of to ensure their success.
Words: Kenya Best | Subbing: Monika Groening