Being pretty might not be as much of a blessing as the "pretty privilege" hashtag suggests. A hashtag has been gaining momentum on TikTok, talking about the "pretty girl curse".
The concept nevertheless raises questions about the standardized nature of beauty in the eyes of today's society.
While beauty is often seen as a privilege, it could, on the contrary, feel like more of a curse for some.
The "pretty girl curse" hashtag has close to six billion views on the TikTok social network. Thousands of videos posted by internet users list the problems and inconveniences they face as "pretty" people.
Indeed, from getting into places free, to gifts and favours, all these privileges – obtained by being attractive – apparently hide an unsuspected malaise.
So explains a TikTok user from the US by the name of Shye Lee, in a video with some 35,000 views. In it, she talks about how her social life has been affected by her looks.
In several other videos, she details the challenges faced by good-looking people and how "pretty girl privilege" might not be so enviable.
She explains, for example, that attractive people can be taken less seriously in the world of work, and that they are much more likely to be kidnapped or assaulted by strangers.
Not to mention the difficulty of making friends, or keeping them.
She talks about how she has sometimes been asked to dress differently to make others feel more comfortable. And, day to day, she doesn't think she enjoys many of the glamorous "privileges" that people think come with good looks.
Cursed by it?
Abby Friedman also talks about the "pretty girl curse" on TikTok.
She says that, after losing about 20 kilos and taking better care of herself, she noticed the difference in the eyes of others. In fact, her physical transformation appears to have been accompanied by all sorts of prejudices and assumptions.
"I was interpreted as intimidating, incapable, mean," she says.
The assumptions of others mean that, at first glance, she is often not perceived as an intelligent person, she says.
In short, it seems that a woman cannot accumulate privileges. As such, a woman viewed as beautiful is still likely to be associated with being an inevitably superficial kind of trophy, and little else.
But behind these hashtags and this (false) debate lies a deeper question: What do we mean by "pretty" or "beautiful"? What makes a person "more beautiful" than another?
This notion of beauty is often constructed with criteria that conform to society's deep-rooted beauty ideals.
"We therefore find almost systematically in these praised physiques: caucasian features, white skin (but golden, the sign of endless vacations), the obligatory thinness and youthfulness, a cisgender identity, an able body," explains the journalist Alice Pfeiffer in her article "Who benefits from the pretty privilege" (Qui profite du pretty privilege?) published by Nylon France.
So, unsurprisingly, this prettiness corresponds to the current Western standards of beauty, propagated and accentuated by social networks.
This amounts to, according to Pfeiffer, "a cyborg look specific to social networks and reinforcing the codes in place: an ultra-juvenile face, without pores, with high cheekbones, huge infantilising cat eyes, eyelashes worthy of a doll, a very small nose and a plump mouth." – AFP Relaxnews