Pretty Privilege

Here is another anonymous blog post sent to me that I would like to post and respond to.

This all boils down to something I will call pretty privilege.  Pretty privilege is subtle, not as in your face as other types of privilege.  I will say that I think I have a pretty face, and am attractive from the neck up (as long as you don’t count my hair…#workinprogress), but I don’t usually have pretty privilege.

The idea of pretty privilege is stupid.  There are way more important things to worry about, even more pressing inequalities in the world.  But since this is on my mind, I will write about it.

I haven’t invested as much into my wardrobe or other things you see many women doing, because I thought I was wasting my time.  Who am I getting dolled up for?  Oh right, nobody, because I’m invisible.  So why waste all this time and money?  Turns out guys want these things, so it’s a cycle.

Pretty privilege is not just about dating.  Life does not revolve around having a man…trust me, I would know.  But pretty privilege is also about people treating you like a human being, instead of just some…thing.  There are way too many examples to share here, but you can definitely see the difference.  There are so many variables that could be at play, but pretty privilege (among other things) is what I think of first.

In order to get pretty privilege, you need the total package. Pretty privilege is the combination of good looks, a nice body, nice clothes, and charm. You probably need at least 3 of the 4.  I usually have one or two going for me at any given time. Yes, I can be charming at times, and I’m getting a little better in this area, but I’m still extremely awkward.

Even when I had a “nice body” for a hot second, my dating life was worse than ever because I still was holding onto that emotional baggage. I was bitter then because I put in all that hard work (it was REALLY hard) and guys still weren’t falling at my feet.

Nobody wants a bag lady.

The world cares a lot about pretty privilege, but probably not as much as I think. It’s ridiculous how shallow I am. I realize that the maturity level of some, maybe most, people has surpassed mine in this area.  But I’ll be stuck here until I work it out.  This is me trying to work it out.  Maybe in 2017 I can work on not caring so much which will no doubt lead to more happiness.

This post was both poignant and heartbreaking. I too do not feel that I am a “pretty” individual. I would classify myself as average at best. This is one of the reasons that I do not care much about how I am dressed. Why does it matter what clothes I am wearing when I have a gigantic nose that people will be focused on anyway. With the realistic understanding that I am not part of the beautiful crowd, I have been freed from worrying about my looks. This is mostly liberating.

One reason why I am able to not dwell on this and let it take over as much as my guest blogger is because I am a male. Males have the ability to shrug looks off and can focus on their other strengths. An example of this is the funny guys, the sports guys, or the musicians. In my opinion, looks do not drive males self-worth as much as it seems it does for females. This is because we see males who most would not consider part of the beautiful crowd with women who we would. Just look at Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, or Modern Family. Males can play to their other strengths and be accepted. It doesn’t seem like women have that same opportunity. I would imagine that those individuals who identify outside of male or female struggle with this as much or more than the guest blogger.

This would not matter as much if it was just about finding a mate. As you read in the guest blog above looks affect your self-worth. If you believe that people see you in a negative light it changes the decisions you make. You may not want to go to that new situation where you don’t know a lot of people. If you do go to these events and you are not comfortable in your skin you will not be as apt to be social and make those networking connections that are so important both personally and professionally.

Looks affect our income. Take this article for example:

Harvard economist Markus Mobius and Wesleyan University economist Tanya Rosenblat published the seminal paper “Why Beauty Matters” in 1994. They found that in three different samples of workers, more attractive people consistently earned 12 to 14 percent more than unattractive people — regardless of gender — with evidence that the “labor market sorts the best-looking people into occupations where their looks are productive.”

To that end, a 2012 paper found that comely real estate brokers outperformed homely colleagues. (link)

What worries me the most is looks affect our students’ education. This comes from both students and teachers.

More uncomfortably, first- and sixth-graders think attractive teachers are kinder and happier, and college students thought that attractive professors were clearer, more helpful, and of higher overall quality.

In news to no one who was awkward in high school (or beyond), hot people tend to be super confident. Mobius and Rosenblat chalk this up to a self-fulfilling prophecy that will have been at work since kindergarten — teachers expect cute kids to do well (thanks to above-mentioned halo effect), so they give them more attention than ugly kids. With that attention comes better grades, more confidence, and greater comfort with public display. (link)

My final thought is that school shouldn’t be where “pretty privilege” begins to sprout. This means that we have to address this head on. When a student comes in looking so cute we dote on them just as much, not more, as when they get that lightbulb moment in class. We as educators should recognize that we have a bias towards our student’s looks. What we judge as cute is influenced by race, weight, or other physical features that students have no control over. Let’s be aware next time a student breaks a rule on how we handle the situation. Did we excuse their behavior because they are so cute? Did their looks (weight, gender, race) have anything to do with why we doled out consequences? Are we being fair when it comes to the rules in our class? (In this case fairness being more about equality than equity.) This is an area that I will be working to improve.


3 thoughts on “Pretty Privilege

  1. denegainey

    This definitely brought up some very important points about how our decisions as educators need to reflect sound judgment. It encourages me to intentionally monitor my interactions with students to make judgments based on the situation, not privilege. Great thoughts to consider Justin. Thank you for sharing.


  2. Bonnie Arrant

    I teach children placed in Special Education who are considered the most severe and profound. Very often I see staff and faculty dote on and excuse behavior in the ” attractive” students. Children with Down syndrome often get the pretty privilege! When I tried to explain to adults that this is not in the student’s best interest I was told too bad I am going to keep doing it anyway. This attitude not only objectifies the person but also isolates them more as peers don’t understand and are jealous plus the child doesn’t develop appropriate language, social or emotional skills because there is no need to get what they want.


  3. codeinfig

    i think its interesting both from a social and scientific standpoint how we naturally evaluate the world around us.

    my concern (if you want to call it that) is that it quickly turns into shaming people for esseentially being born with a brain stem. the point of “civilization” i suppose is for every person to grow past the simplest aspects of thinking and living, and being “better than that.” but if this is something everyone naturally does, how is it something to be more ashamed of than say, being born gay?

    in other words, “everyones a little bit racist” / ageist, sexist, prejudiced, and thats just part of the human condition. we have all these natural traits that make us judge people as “others.” and thats worth growing beyond to some degree.

    you dont make people grow by shaming them. thats the old catholic school nun way of teaching, and personally i dont feel like being hit by a ruler (or thrashing myself with reeds) because i think EXACTLY like every other person, from my african (as in the continent) ex-girlfriend to every man-hater out there. humanity simply isnt this ideal we try/want/claim to be.

    for science, i think its great to know how much we base our opinions and impressions on wiring, rather than rational thought. but lets admit that everyone is guilty, which means no one is innocent, which means theres no reasonable person to condemn someone else– how was it put: “let he who is without sin…” no its cool, everybody put the rocks down and go home and think about it for a minute. its just like we said all along: people arent as smart as they think they are.



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