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Why it’s time to end the pretty privilege era

Beauty Editor Donna Francis explains why looking a certain way shouldn’t signal your worth 

Beauty Collective
Pretty privilege still exists. Surely it's time we put a stop to it!
Donna Francis
Contributing Editor US
9 April 2024
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I’d never heard of the term #prettyprivilege until this week - apparently the hashtag has over 250 million views on Tik Tok, and it's a phrase coined by the internet to describe the benefits of being the kind of ‘pretty’ that conforms to society’s so-called beauty ideals.

I first came across it after reading comments about a viral Tik Tok, uploaded by 30-year-old New Yorker, Melissa Weaver. Melissa had gone for an interview for the job of her dreams. One that she knew she was qualified for, and one that she was told by the recruiter, fitted her skillset perfectly. 

However, Melissa was rejected for the vice presidency role because she didn’t look ‘pretty enough.’  Watch her viral clip below...

In the video, Melissa explains that after thinking the interview was a huge success, she was told that she didn’t get the job because she hadn’t put enough effort into her appearance. 

“I did a blowout for my hair. I had on a nice top, a blazer and some earrings, but I only had on Chapstick,” Melissa explains in the video. “I didn’t have any makeup on because I don’t wear a lot of makeup - not to be quirky, I just don’t”. 

Which begs the question as she asked her followers, does not wearing makeup really make it seem like women aren’t putting as much effort or care into their job? 

I was astonished that as a society we are still conditioned to believe that we have to conform to a set of out-of-date beauty ideals that require us to look a certain way in a job interview. Yes, as a matter of respect - to ourselves as well as our colleagues - we should look presentable and of course be clean. But is a lack of lipstick really reason enough not to hire someone? Is corporate America still that behind? 

This appearance-fixated society, makes me, yes even me, the de facto Beauty Editor, take a deep breath of dismay. And now add the barrage of overly perfect filters on TikTok and Instagram, I fear that the pressures of looking a certain way will get worse. 

Pretty privilege still exists. Surely it's time we put a stop to it! © Sofia Zhuravetc
Pretty privilege still exists? Surely it's time we put a stop to it!

In this so-called age of inclusivity and diversity, we should be putting those archaic societal beauty standards to bed. Do men get turned down for a job if they don’t use concealer to cover up their dark circles? Pah! Of course not! 

Yes, wearing lipstick can make a lot of us feel better. Makeup often gives us a coat of armour. A spring in our step. An extra jolt of confidence. And of course, for that reason, wear it! But it should be about choice. 

READ: Selena Gomez just killed comparison culture with her 'truthful and authentic' Botox comments – and we have a lot to thank her for 

You might say that this opinion is a bit rich coming from a Beauty Editor, working in an industry that relies on lipstick sales. However, during my career, I have always worked hard to encourage women to celebrate what makes them unique and if that’s going makeup-free, then so be it. 

Lipstick or no lipstick, we should be looking at the traits that make us clever, caring, honest, brave…Not whether we look like a sexy, polished and glossy character from Suits

It’s up to society to challenge these internalised biases. We must all be on a level playing field. Whatever we look like.

Pretty privilege? It’s time we made it stop!