The Thing About Pretty Privilege

Bloom 1c

Emmanuel Olawoye & Anjoyinoluwa Boluwajoko


Have you’ve ever wondered if pretty people just go through life receiving free things and getting better treatment than everybody else? Yes, we did too, and we decided to learn more about this concept called Pretty Privilege.

We caught up with 10 ladies to hear their opinions about pretty privilege, if they believe it’s actually a thing or just a myth. You will love their responses.

Pretty Privilege  

  • Respondent 1

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

It means being able to enjoy favors from people because they just like you. People naturally form perception at first glance, and this is what pretty people get to enjoy. People that are not so pretty have to work harder on getting people to notice their content i.e., inner beauty.

2

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

Yes, I have

  • How does being a beneficiary of pretty privilege make you feel?

When I achieve things in life, I have always had to consciously tell myself that it is because I worked hard for it and not because I’m pretty. So many times, I have had to ask myself that “do I really merit the things I get?” or “what was this person thinking when they decided to help me?”. Honestly, I don’t feel guilty about it anymore because I work hard so if being pretty is an addition then so be it.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

I think that pretty privilege is not fair but life itself is not fair, so I guess it cancels each other.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

To be honest, I don’t think anything can be done.

  • Respondent 2

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

Pretty privilege means you having access to opportunities that you or your colleagues normally won’t have access to or qualify for because you are fine.

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

Yes. During my early years in my career, I got an extra ordinary recommendation from my boss. Although I did my job well and others could attest to it, I knew my boss went the extra mile on my recommendation because he had a soft spot for me.

6

I also know someone who gets promoted every year because people think she performs well based on her looks, so they do not bother with checking the numbers. Meanwhile there are other people who do better but don’t get promoted as much.

  • How did being a beneficiary of pretty privilege make you feel?

I was comfortable with the extra effort my boss put on my recommendation due to his soft spot for me because I felt I did my job well. However, I was conscious enough to discourage such acts by leaving the department before it escalated into harassment.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

I don’t think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege. I think people should be judged based on the value they bring not because of how they look.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

Performance appraisal should more objective rather than subjective.

  • Respondent 3

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

It means people being more inclined to help you because you look pretty. I think it’s based on instincts and people don’t even realize when they do it.

5

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

No

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

I think it is fair. Everybody has their superpowers that works for them. For some people it is good people skills, for others it is intelligence. So, if someone’s beauty is what works for them, I think it is fair.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

We should create more awareness about it so that people would be more conscious to let go of their bias when making decisions about other people.

  • Respondent 4

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

It means getting access to things that you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to.

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

I have been. A lot of the men in this organization do the things that I want them to do just so that they can have the opportunity to talk to me some other time.

8

  • How did being a beneficiary of pretty privilege make you feel?

On most days I feel offended and irritated. One of the painful things that I hear sometimes is “Oh, I was pleasantly surprised to know that you are smart”. What this means is that most times people think that because I am pretty, I am daft and if they do not get to engage me, they go around with that preconceived notion. I am irritated by the attention and on somedays my irritation translates to taking advantage of the privilege and enjoying what comes with it. When I walk into a room, people judge me by how I look, and I don’t like it.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

Honestly, I think it’s two sides of the coin. While sometimes being pretty gets you a foot in the door or helps you get things done quicker, what most people don’t understand is that there is a sense of entitlement their helpers get and they are expected to give something back. This is what translates to harassment sometimes. Again, pretty people get judged by how they look without people getting to know them and what they can do.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

People should be conscious to interact with people based on who they are and not how they look.

  • Respondent 5

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

Pretty privilege is having access to cool things just because you appear fancy and people generally like the way you look.

7

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

Yes. I’ve gotten stuff like my iPhone 12, shoes and bags.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

I think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege. If you are fine, you are fine and if you think you are not fine, apply make-up. I think enjoying pretty privilege is beyond the way you look; it cuts across how you relate with people and how you carry yourself and sometimes how efficient you are with getting work done.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

Everyone should work on developing themselves and their inter-personal skills so that people can see you in a different light that doesn’t necessary involve your beauty.

  • Respondent 6

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

Getting favor because people like what they see.

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

Yes. Most Men, sometimes women pay attention to what I have to say and agree with me even when I’m not correct because I’m pretty. During the period that I was a CEMP in a branch, whenever customers come into the branch angrily, they are forced to be calm when I attend to them because they feel that if they are able to comport themselves, they would get a chance to talk to me later. Also, some of my bosses treated me better than my colleagues because they thought I had access to powerful people due to my beauty.

4

  • How does being a beneficiary of pretty privilege make you feel?

Being a beneficiary of pretty privilege has helped to boost my confidence and people cannot talk down on me. It really doesn’t matter to me because there is nothing, I can do about the way I look.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

It’s not fair but I am not upset that I get these privileges.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

I don’t think there is anything that can be done because human beings are very physical oriented. Once you like a person, you don’t necessarily have control about how nice you want to treat them.

  • Respondent 7

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

Getting help that people won’t normally get because you are pretty. Getting the rules bent in your favor because of how you look.

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

I really don’t know but in secondary school, I used to have some teachers approve my work as correct most times when I didn’t really deserve it. However, I don’t think it was because of my beauty.

  • How did being a beneficiary of pretty privilege make you feel?

At first, I didn’t even notice it was happening until I started to see trends and my classmates began to see me as my teacher’s favorite. When I noticed, I began to feel uncomfortable.

Bloom 2B

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

I know it is not fair. People may think it’s nice because when you like someone you want to go all out for them, but they don’t think about how it affects the beneficiaries. It can be depressing for the beneficiaries sometimes because their colleagues constantly judge them for the favors they get. Pretty privilege may seem like a good thing to have from far but when you experience it every time, you realize it can be a lonely road sometimes.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

I don’t think there is anything that can be done because nobody wants to openly admit that they are beneficiaries of pretty privilege, and no one would also admit that they favored someone because he/she is pretty. What I think people can do is to at least make sure that whoever they want to favor should merit the favor even if it’s a little bit. That way, they would be able to defend that bias. E.g., if you are going to give someone a job opportunity because he/she is fine, make sure the person has a degree of smartness so you can defend why you gave the person undue privilege.

  • Respondent 8
  • What does pretty privilege mean to you?

What comes to my mind is people that are naturally beautiful or who fit into the general concept of beautiful get to access opportunities more than people who do not fit into the general idea of being pretty. 

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

I don’t think so. I don’t think there has been a time when my beauty has stood out for me.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

Of course not. The word privilege already shows that not everyone has access to it.  However, I don’t think it’s the fault of the person who has the privilege.

Bloom 2A

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

Conscious effort should be made to reiterate that there shouldn’t be any preferential treatment irrespective of who a person is. Although I think it is almost impossible to do away with it in the workplace but what we can do is take a position about it and reiterate the need to always be fair and treat everyone the same way.

  • Respondent 9

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

It means getting work done easily because you appear good looking.

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

I have been a beneficiary of pretty privilege outside the workplace but within Sterling Bank, I haven’t been a beneficiary.

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

Yes and No. If it doesn’t affect promotion metrics or how people view your work, I think it’s fair.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

Create awareness about it in the workplace so that people become more conscious of the bias and are able to caution themselves when they are about to do it.

  • Respondent 10

  1. What does pretty privilege mean to you?

Getting access to nice things because you are good looking.

  • Have you ever been a beneficiary of pretty privilege?

Outside the workplace yes, within the workplace, No

3

  • Do you think it is fair that people benefit from pretty privilege?

I don’t think it is fair but it’s the reality of the environment we are in. People do not necessarily have control over on how they feel about people. Some people don’t even think they can favor people on the basis of pretty privilege until they find themselves in that situation.

  • What do you think can be done to address pretty privilege in the workplace?

Creating awareness about this concept in the workplace.

Wrapping It Up

The very perception of beauty is subjective – what one person finds beautiful another may not. But for many beautiful women, pretty privilege does exist and sometimes, people will get favored treatments because of their looks. Instead of a moral high ground, what we see, repeatedly, is a call for awareness and objectivity of natural biases, especially in the workplace. As women make their mark in the workforce, it has become increasingly important to create a balanced workplace that allows everyone to thrive and be celebrated for their professional commitments. So, both givers and recipient alike must stay conscious of their biases and subject their decision-making process to objective and ethical measures that paint the right picture for the next generation of women and society as a whole.

The End

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