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Pretty Privilege: Is It a Real Thing or Just a Social Media Trend?

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.

The Halo and Horn Effects:

The idea of pretty privilege is deeply intertwined with psychological concepts like the halo effect and the horn effect. The first one occurs when our perception of someone is influenced by their appearance, leading us to attribute positive traits to those we find attractive. For instance, if we perceive someone as conventionally attractive, we might also assume they are intelligent, funny, or talented, even without knowing them. On the flip side, the horn effect is when we form a negative impression of someone based on a single negative trait.

Society’s Stance on Weight:

Society’s treatment of individuals based on their weight is a poignant example of these effects. Many women report a significant change in how they are treated after losing weight, receiving more compliments and experiencing more kindness from strangers. Conversely, gaining weight often results in a decrease of these positive interactions. This disparity highlights how physical appearance can heavily influence social interactions and the perception of worth.

Fannita’s TikTok Experience:

TikTok star Fannita sheds light on the complexities of pretty privilege. After losing weight and becoming more conventionally attractive, she noticed a shift in how seriously people took her. She points out a paradox: previously when she joked about her appearance, people praised her out of pity. Now, making the same comments results in her being labeled as mean. This change underscores a societal bias in which attractive individuals face backlash for acknowledging their attractiveness, revealing an inherent contradiction in how society views beauty.

The Beauty Industry’s Profit Motive:

The beauty industry, worth billions of dollars, thrives on perpetuating insecurities. Capitalistic society benefits from people’s constant pursuit of unattainable beauty standards, encouraging them to buy products they don’t need. Young children are particularly susceptible, to spending money on skincare products advertised on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, despite not needing them. This relentless pursuit of beauty is driven by an industry that equates appearance with self-worth.

Beauty and Self-Worth:

The link between beauty and self-worth is profound. Many women, like singer-songwriter Mitski in her song “Brand New City,” express a lifelong obsession with beauty. Mitski’s lyrics, “And if I gave up on being pretty, I wouldn’t know how to be alive,” resonate with many who have tied their worth to their physical appearance. This societal fixation on looks can create a pervasive sense of inadequacy and unworthiness among those who don’t conform to conventional standards.

The Double-Edged Sword of Beauty:

While beauty can open doors, it also comes with its own set of challenges. Those who grow up being held to high standards of beauty or attain it later in life often become obsessed with maintaining their appearance. The pursuit of perfection—whether it be clearer skin, a thinner body, or other beauty ideals—can become an endless, unfulfilling cycle. Society constantly shifts beauty standards, ensuring that contentment with one’s looks is a fleeting achievement.

Pretty privilege is not just a social media trend; it is a complex, deeply ingrained societal issue. The halo and horn effects, societal attitudes towards weight, the beauty industry’s profit motives, and the link between beauty and self-worth all contribute to the reality of pretty privilege. While beauty can provide certain advantages, it also imposes unrealistic standards and expectations, making it a double-edged sword. Understanding and addressing these dynamics is crucial in fostering a more inclusive society in which worth is not determined by just people’s appearance.


The article above was edited by Larissa Buzon.

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Rafaela Navarro

Casper Libero '26

estudante de jornalismo, cultura, entretenimento e conhecimentos gerais.