Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

“Pretty isn’t pretty”: women and their constant self-doubt 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Olivia Rodrigo’s new album, GUTS, perfectly represents how it feels to be a 19-year-old girl. We could go on and talk about every line and how every girl can relate to it in different ways, but there’s one song that has the X factor and fits like a glove to every 21st century young woman: “pretty isn’t pretty”.  

Olivia’s sophomore album was released on September 8, and after her debut with Sour expectations were sky-high for her next move. She worked again with Daniel Nigro, same collaborator-producer as in Sour, but they followed in a different direction now, her first album was more about being heartbroken and this one is about becoming a young adult. “For me, this album is about growing pains and about trying to figure out who I am at this point in my life and exactly what I want to say in my songs.” said Olivia in her website. 

As humans, we are constantly thinking if we are good enough. But, if you are a woman, you probably have these thoughts multiplied by 5 and in every sphere of your life. If it makes anything better, you are not alone and Olivia is here to prove it. 


i was called ugly so much when i was a kid it lingers so this song hit the spot LOL. you are perfect ok. #oliviarodrigo #guts #beauty

♬ pretty isn’t pretty – Olivia Rodrigo


The song starts with a verse that shows her outward problems and her inner insecurities. She goes from her makeup to hide her “imperfections” all the way to her remedies as a way to control her thoughts. For a long time, women have been told to wear makeup as a form to become closer to the “perfect look”. Movements are happening to change that view: it’s not about changing who you are but enhancing it. However, does the world really believe in this new philosophy? Or do we as a society keep pushing women to their limits expecting them to become these unrealistic types that we sell as the perfect woman?

This isn’t the first time Olivia sings about this topic. In “enough for you”, she shares that she used to wear makeup as a form to look more like the girls her beloved used to like – “I wore makeup when we dated / ‘Cause I Thought you’d like me more”. She was trying to fit in and still does, even after becoming an it girl and a beauty standard for many women. Olivia has become the pattern, so why does she still not feel enough? The beauty standards are so high and so unattainable that the girl that it’s the standard doesn’t feel like it, she keeps trying to fit in something impossible.

Well said by Olivia: girls start to skip lunch and don’t eat cakes on birthdays, an attempt to achieve the perfect body. It’s a fact that women are more affected by eating disorders than men. According to the Child Mind Institute, the reason behind this is more than just a cultural phenomenon, it’s the biology of being a female combined with cultural factors. 

“If you grow up in a culture it ends up being the way we evaluate ourselves, and it has a direct influence on that, and there’s a lot of research that shows that internalization of the thin body ideal is a real potent risk factor for developing an eating disorder.” said Douglas Bunnell, Phd and clinical psychologist. As a girl, one of the first things you learn is that to be seen as a “pretty woman” your body has to be thin. It doesn’t matter how you’ll become skinny, if it’s genetic or if it’s the result of a disease, you have to constantly lose weight. 

In the song’s second verse, after the chorus, Olivia realizes that you can fix everything you hate about yourself but you will still not feel enough, thus because the idea of perfection in women is in everything that surrounds us. As a society we expect women to be perfect, the media sell this standard to us, the internet induces this pattern. Besides all of this, Olivia brought one more agent that charges women to fight this “pretty war”: men. 

The male validation is the last point of this looping of insecurities. The moment that a boy validates you, it’s like you “won”, like the battle was worth it. The world says that we have to be pretty, funny, sexy, smart, and everything in between, but the reason why we are demanded to be this way is to make a guy feel like he is “the man”. Through decades a woman was only someone if a man could see her like that. Nowadays, we don’t normally follow this rule, but unconsciously it’s still the idea behind our actions. 

In the song “Prom Queen” by Beach Bunny there is a line that summarizes this idea: “If I get more pretty do you think he will like me?”. Many girls still try to get prettier not for them but for others, for men in particular. Thoughts like this go through girls’ minds, even the ones who don’t feel attracted to men. The need to have a man saying that you are enough to feel like it. We were taught to live like this, our beauty isn’t in our hands but in guys’ hands, our worth is in their hands.

And I try to ignorе it, but it’s everythin’ I see / It’s on the poster on the wall, it’s in the shitty magazines / It’s in my phone, it’s in my head, it’s in the boys I bring to bed / It’s all around, it’s all the time, I don’t know why I even try” 

To end this article, I brought a quote from the TV show “Fleabag”. A line that summarizes everything said here and everything Olivia wanted to share. A  woman has to try every single day since her birth to get closer to perfection, even though we all know it is not possible, but we keep pushing and we keep fighting this unrealistic war, we keep putting ourselves in pain expecting to achieve the unachievable.

Women are born with pain built in, it’s our physical destiny – period pain, sore boobs, childbirth, you know. We carry it with ourselves throughout our lives.


The article above was edited by Clara Rocha.

Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus at Casper Libero‘s home page for more!

Malu Alcântara

Casper Libero '26

I’m Malu, a journalism student at Casper Libero, still learning the art of writing.