Your soul

Life Is Better When You’re Pretty, Right?

By December 6, 2015 0

I confess: back in the day, I was one of those dweeby middle-schoolers with braces and a terrible sense of fashion. Everyone envied the pretty, posh, popular girls in my eighth grade class. I dreamed that one day, I’d be attractive like them. My new, pretty life would be perfect: boys would pay attention to me and other girls would aspire to achieve my appearance.

The next few years of my life proceeded with a continuously mediocre fashion sense. Though I did eventually ditch the braces, I still yearned to reach the level of beauty like the girls I grew up with had already done. Boys still didn’t pay much attention to me and I was too shy to talk to them. I felt ignored and unimportant, but I was used to it; pretty girls were the ones who always got the preferential treatment, after all.

It was junior year of high school when I woke up one morning, looked in the mirror and had an absolute epiphany. I realized that I was pretty. Don’t ask me where this came from or what dream I must have woken up from that morning. I suppose it was the product of wearing makeup on a regular basis and my improved fashion. During the same year I traded in the athletic t-shirts and sweatpants for more fashionable shirts and skinny jeans. Boys started paying attention to me and I was being noticed. I was finally pretty, and I was elated. 

Fast forward a few years. I was a college student and I no longer felt the desire to fit in with those pretty girls – I was already one of them. I got hit on fairly regularly by guys at bars, or told I was “hot” by friends of friends who were actually too nervous to talk to me in person. Guys were always nice to me. It was weird as hell. And awesome.

But as I came down from the pretty high I was on, I began taking mental notes of a few things:

First, I noticed that people were commenting on my appearance a lot more. I don’t mean negative comments (I won’t even begin to touch on the topic of creepy old men on the street commenting on my appearance – that’s a whole other ball game). Society puts this insanely high value on females’ appearances and it’s considered acceptable for people to comment on a woman’s appearance if they find her to be conventionally attractive. For instance, “pretty” girls get told by their friends that they’re hot, good-looking, and whatever else on a regular basis. In fact, telling a woman she’s pretty is often viewed as the highest compliment you can give her. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “…but you’re pretty, so it doesn’t matter,” I’d be a very wealthy person. It’s almost as if people assume that if you’re attractive, your life must be perfect.

Hmm… sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Next, I found that I was generally getting a lot more attention from people. When I talk, people listen to me (or at least they pretend to do so very well), whereas when I was awkward and average-looking, people never really gave me the time of day. Here’s a little story: last year, I went to a party with only a couple of people I knew. I spent most of the night awkwardly standing next to the food table. A friend of a friend approached me and asked why I wasn’t talking to anyone. I told him that I didn’t really know anyone there, and his reply was, “You’re cute enough; people will talk to you.” If I was unattractive, would he have said that? Would he have even approached me in the first place?

Probably not.

I’ve also noticed that I get called a lot of stupid pet names. “Sweetie” is a common one that people seem to like to use. My grandmother used to call me “sweetie” and “honey.” They’re used to “cute-ify” someone and frankly, they’re a bit demeaning when they’re directed toward an adult; they can trivialize the problems of the person being called the name. Sure they’re cute, but if you’re calling me “sweetie” and you’re not my grandma, then you need to chill out.

I felt rather guilty and vain writing this article which just proves my point further. We place such a large emphasis on beauty that it seems to be the highest accomplishment you can achieve if you’re a woman. As women, we’re constantly striving and competing with one another to reach this seemingly unattainable level of attractiveness at which our lives will magically be perfect, because pretty girls don’t have any real problems. Surprise! Magic doesn’t exist. Everyone has problems regardless of how attractive they are! Do I get treated better than a woman who isn’t “conventionally” attractive? For the most part, yes, but generally speaking, being pretty just means that more people will probably be superficial with you. You just need the smarts to realize that, and that is most important.

I wish I could tell my dorky fourteen-year-old self that unfortunately there’s really no exclusive club of pretty people who have perfect lives as a result.