Beauty pageant contestants, Korean idols, and social media influencers are viewed as people who are role models of the society because of their pretty faces and looks.

Even a male prisoner signed a modeling contract after being called by social media a “hot felon” just because of his handsome face on a prison mugshot that went viral on social media. People who are born good looking are having that pretty privilege and these circumstances seem to appear everywhere in our society.

Jeremy Meeks, an American fashion model.

Is Pretty Privilege Real?

Pretty privilege is the benefit people get when they are recognized as beautiful. Well, do these things exist in our society? The answer is “Yes” and sadly pretty privilege is normal and some people do not even notice it. 

People are treated differently based on their attractiveness. Some beautiful girls get discounts for their drinks in a coffee shop, get free meals from a random man, and most commonly, physically attractive people get higher chances of job opportunities. People in the society are judged by their looks. For example, we can easily notice that people always try to make themselves look good and dressed up professional when going for a job interview. That is because of pretty privilege. Attractive people are usually judged as smart, talented, and more likely to be wealthy. More great examples, an ice cream restaurant like Swensen’s only hires staff based on their good-looking face and body shape. As well as a job like flight attendants, they put height and beauty privilege on a pedestal.

Sounds unfair but these privileges continuously show up in real life, especially after the invention of social media. The existence of pretty privilege may cause people to lose their self esteem since they are always afraid of the society not appreciating them. 

Who Actually Defines The Word “Beauty”?

We might have heard the phrase saying,

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

That means each person has their own beauty preferences. Some might prefer people with a slim body, some prefer women with tan skin, and some could prefer men with mustache

It is the individual that defines their own beauty perception. On the other side, beauty is a social construction. As a matter of fact, it is because of social norms and culture that create all of these man-made beauty standards. Therefore, beauty standards are always changing depending on each group of culture, countries, and period of time. For instance, Asian countries including China, Korean, Japan, and Thailand have their own beauty standards. Most women with white skin, thin eyes, and cute looks tends to attract Asian men. As well as Thai women, most of them prefer handsome Korean idols. 

In China, people who are perceived as attractive have to have a very bright skin, big eyes, small faces, and skinny body shape. That is why we can see most Chinese people on social media using face apps and make up to make themselves match the beauty standards. On the other hand, people in Europe or Americans tend to prefer tan skin, or women with an hourglass body shape and flat stomach. Yet if we turn back time to c.1700, people would prefer a chubby body figure with round stomach and fair skin. Thus, attractiveness depends on how the whole society appreciates it during a particular period of time. Moreover, these social constructions of beauty came from the power of “media”.

Pretty Privilege In Current Media

Due to the introduction of media, pretty privilege appears even more in people’s lives. All of those beauty standards embed in audiences’ heads without even realizing it. 

A scene from a Korean series, “It’s okay to not be okay”.

We can clearly see on television, especially commercials, that the actors or celebrities are flawless. People who are good looking are likely to have a higher opportunity to be in a TV commercial. TV series and movies for example. If not because of talent, people usually discuss more about the protagonists who are attractive. Additionally, almost every single main actor of Korean series does not only consist of acting talents, but also the beauty and charm he or she has. That is why fan clubs love watching Korean series. The K-pop industry forces idols to always make themselves look good in front of the camera. They are forcing idols to have plastic surgeries and losing weight. This pop culture encourages people to think that the more you look skinny, the more beautiful you are. Just like these Korean idols. 

As well as beauty pageants like ”Miss Universe”. The contest strongly advocates pretty privilege by showing audiences that intelligence and talent is not enough for being the world’s role model. Beauty is as well required in order to own the Miss Universe crown.

Most commonly, the social media!

Furthermore, social media are platforms that highly promote pretty privilege. Some people are posting pictures or videos of themselves looking pretty on social media like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Tiktok. To illustrate, pretty privilege on social media can be seen through comments of a person’s post. Comparing two accounts on Tiktok, comments tend to turn out positive if the person is good looking. In contrast, comments turn out negative or gain lesser likes when that person is unattractive even though he or she does the same thing as the first person. Unfortunately, cyber bullying often happens among unattractive people who are trying to express themselves on social media. 

What about the animated world?!

Pretty privilege does not only occur on TV or movies, but also cartoons! Japanese anime usually create main characters to look attractive with a v-shape face, big eyes, small noses, and perfect body shape. Accordingly, these anime characters are admired by people as they look pretty. It is undeniably true that one of the factors that makes us interested in a cartoon character is their attractiveness. A character such as Levi Ackerman from Attack on Titan, Kakashi from Naruto, and Asuna Yuuki from Sword Art Online are on the Top 50 most attractive male and female anime characters. Moreover, they are considered to be the most popular characters appreciated by anime fans. It is normal for audiences to find these characters attractive as Japanese anime’s selling point is the hotness, cuteness, and fascinating voices. Sometimes also the way they over sexualized the characters.

Kakashi Hatake, Asuna Yuuki, and Levi Ackerman.

Is Pretty Privilege Necessary In Our Lives?

Some say that attractiveness is a life benefit. Life seems easier when we are born physically pretty. We match more people on Tinder when our profile pictures are attractive. Some people notice each other in schools, universities, and the public just because they look good. Prom or University Kings and Queens, cheerleading, and beauty contests, all of these events keep being visible. But do we actually need them to apply in our real lives?

Still, is it that necessary to have pretty privilege? Are these privileges a guarantee to success in our lives?
Not always. 

Meet, “Hwasa”!

Hwasa, or Ahn Hye-jin, a member from a Korean girl group “MAMAMOO”. People know her as one of the top ranked artists in Korean pop industry. Hwasa mentioned in her interview that she auditioned in another record label before signing a contract with Rainbow Bridge World. Turned out that the music company refused to accept her because of her chubby body. Her looks that don’t match Korean beauty standards, even though she is very talented at singing.

However, she said that it didn’t stop her from her dreams of being a pop singer and creating her own version of beauty. Hwasa proved to society that beauty is not always a key to her success. It is the talent she has! She sticks with her healthy body with curves and tan skin. Her recent solo was “Maria” with the music video concept of her own style and is on the top 10 Korean pop music chart in 2020. She is really an inspiration!

Gone in the future or exists forever?

Although, will there be a time when pretty privilege disappears in the future? No, unless people stop appreciating others’ attractiveness. That will indeed get rid of this kind of social construction. It is hard to force people to not have preferences among looks or not comparing others to themselves. Also, it is impossible to stop people from being attractive in order to make it fair for the rest. No matter how hard we try to avoid pretty privilege, as long as we are still finding someone attractive because of their looks, we are supporting pretty privilege. Moreover, it is neither wrong to be beautiful nor ugly because truly we cannot choose how we look when we are born. 

Pretty privilege might stay forever but what we actually must do is to give respect to the others. Better to not show hate or bother someone just because of their unattractive looks. People can be good or bad and it does not depend on faces or body shapes. Some might be unattractive but that does not mean they are always horrible. It is more important to focus on people’s equality. People should treat each other the same. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover!