Pretty Hurts? A Look at Pretty Privilege

April 20, 2018

Merriam-Webster defines privilege as “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor,” especially when “attached specifically to a position or an office.”

Any discussion of privilege typically garners conflicting views. Recently, people have begun to talk about the idea of “pretty privilege.” I would personally define pretty privilege as the advantages people are given when they have features that are conventionally considered attractive or attractive to the decision-maker. Both men and women can use pretty privilege as a way to get ahead. Often, we see people get hired, promoted, forgiven or believed because they are viewed as attractive.


While some elements of “attractiveness” can come from habits like hair and makeup maintenance, the majority of pretty privilege comes from genetics. Pretty privilege gives a person considered beautiful or handsome more opportunities in both their personal and professional lives. Certain industries even prefer “pretty” people, like in media and entertainment.


People often deny that pretty privilege is what helped them get a foot in the door. One of the reasons pretty privilege works so successfully is because it’s not something people want to acknowledge -- like most privilege.


 Photo: Caroline Attwood on Unsplash  


But similar to any privilege, it is essential that we analyze the context of the situation.

Janet Mock detailed her own experience with pretty privilege for Allure Magazine. She wrote, “For me, pretty privilege operates in a myriad of ways depending on the spaces I enter, who is in that space, and whether people already know that I am trans.”

She knows how her life is different because she is now perceived as “pretty,” and that comes with benefits she didn’t have in the past. Although some aspects make her less privileged, her beauty is something that helps her as she navigates through the world like the rest of us.


It’s important to always remember that being privileged in any way should not make people feel guilty, yet, if you realize you do receive pretty privilege, it is best to use your position to help those who are disadvantaged because of it. We must also be conscious not to determine someone’s value based on their physical appearance.


​Olivia Pandora Stokes is 21 and entering her senior year as a business administration major, with a marketing concentration. She has a love of words, Netflix, and reading.She takes her coffee strong (Harvard scientists insist it's healthy for you) and her feminism intersectional. In the future Olivia Pandora plans write more and use business to create a positive impact in the world.


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