It is rather unsettling that any advantage a person may or may not have is slowly being turned into a type of privilege. We’ve heard of white privilege, male privilege, straight (heterosexuality) privilege, able-body privilege and many others (valid or not), but pretty privilege is still something that remains elusive. It’s difficult to prove that someone has an advantage because of a very specific trait that they possess, but people like to speculate. I am of the opinion that pretty privilege can exist under very specific circumstances; otherwise being beautiful is a double-edged sword.
Industries where pretty privilege exists
It is rather obvious that people trying to get into the entertainment industry will be faced with discrimination based on whether they are attractive or not as well. It does make sense – the public is more concerned with being entertained, as the industry name suggests, rather than real, pure talent (save certain exceptions). Akin to moths, a lot of people gravitate towards something that appears bright, spectacular. Seems derogatory, but it is what it is.
Similarly, the modeling industry, whether it be runway modeling or fashion modeling, certainly prefers people that are attractive or have very special traits. Once again, it isn’t a surprise, as symmetry is more pleasing to the eye.
Airlines sometimes select attractive people, in particular, to work as flight attendants and it’s of no surprise that it’s almost a requirement to be beautiful for South Korean airlines. Their whole society is obsessed with beauty, as highlighted by the numerous plastic surgery clinics that exist there. Pretty privilege is definitely a thing in South Korea, for example.
Social interactions and pretty privilege
In large groups, social interactions people tend to pay more attention to beautiful people, especially if female. However, it’s unclear whether that’s solely to do with their external appearance or perhaps the confidence factor is the driving force here.
Even so, when it comes to romantic relationships, beautiful people will have a clear advantage and that should be no surprise. I’m not sure whether that should be counted as pretty privilege – people are naturally attracted to beautiful people. I suppose it is a form of advantage, but social entanglements are complex.
How being beautiful can be a double-edged sword
Of course, you can have everything handed over to you by virtue of being pretty, so you get the so-called pretty privilege in action, but it can also be the very thing that destroys your life. Perhaps this isn’t truly applicable to men, but for women being beautiful can be a curse and not a blessing.
Catcalling and harassment of various kinds, specifically sexual, are both things that happen to a lot of women all around the world. However, this is unfortunately amplified by being beautiful, especially as some predatory people see beautiful women as a ‘game’.
On top of this, there’s the stereotype of beautiful women in particular being stupid or dense, which is completely false. There are plenty of attractive people out there who are also smart, to the disappointment of many insecure people. As such, they might be actually discriminated against in certain industries and academia.
All in all, pretty privilege exists in very specific circumstances and it’s certainly not a ‘pure’ privilege, as in having a trait that simply brings forth advantages and no downsides. Most of the time people are forced to live difficult lives, regardless of the few crumbs of ‘upside’ that they might get.