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The Dark Side of Being Pretty

I’ve been ruminating over my own experiences as a pretty woman for some time now. On the one hand it has definitely benefited me in some ways. I understand that it can benefit me in larger ways that I don’t necessarily notice or know about because of the reaction our society has to attractive people. Here’s the thing, some days the positives probably do outweigh the negatives, but at 2 in the afternoon when I’m having to threaten to cut some guy on a bus to get him away from me and random bystanders are ready to victim blame because I had the nerve to wear shorts on a hot summer day it doesn’t feel like it.

I know street harassment (hell misogyny in general) knows no bounds and that women of all races and sizes deal with some version of it. I’m not trying to downplay anyone else’s experiences. I’m just focused on what I’ve noticed since I gained enough weight to move from a B cup to a D cup. I’m pretty in that way people are when they have symmetrical features, the genes for straight white teeth, and a socially accepted body type. Please note, I am not saying this is the only way to be attractive, it is simply the way in which I am attractive.

My decision to go natural, and put my hair into comb coils means that I now have longish hair with a minimum amount of effort. In the past when I was the aforementioned B cup and had a habit of wearing my hair short I’d run into harassment probably once or twice a week. Now? It’s pretty much daily. Some of it is definitely because I present as very feminine now (I have a grown up job that requires business casual attire and in the summer that means a lot of skirts because I hate long pants when the sun is trying to broil me alive) and that seems to make some men feel as though I’m dressing to attract their attention. Some of my harassers have gone so far as to claim that everything I do is to attract their attention. The other day I actually had a guy insist that I wouldn’t have sat in the same row as he did on the bus if I wasn’t interested. Apparently the concept of public transport eluded him. Then again so did the idea that he wasn’t entitled to my being receptive to his overtures so we went the standard misogynistic insult route when I didn’t play my part of his internal script.

And it’s not just street harassment (though I’m at a point where it feels like a one way forcefield would be a good look so I can traverse the city in relative comfort) I also find myself being taken for an airhead on sight. I’m having to prove my intelligence over and over again to people who should have a clue. Someone at my current job was so amazed that I knew anything about computers that he broke into a conversation another coworker and I were having to tell me of his shock and awe. Twice. I don’t have the fanciest job title in all the land, but I do employ a fair amount of critical thinking skills on a day to day basis. Granted the case could be made that his shock was down solely to race and gender, but I’ve got my doubts since his hands couldn’t stop making certain gestures while he was expressing that shock and awe.

Is this a “It’s not easy being pretty so you should feel tons of sympathy for my plight” post? No. Well, at least that’s not what I’m trying to convey. I’m just feeling like some of the people in this article who are both reaping the rewards and suffering from the side effects. It’s easy to talk about pretty privilege, but the reality is that (like a lot of other facets of life) being attractive is a double edged sword. Just as white privilege doesn’t remove the oppression of sexism, or male privilege doesn’t remove the oppression of racism, being pretty doesn’t do away with any of those oppressions. In fact it can heighten the incidence rate (at least that’s been my experience) and then any comments about why it is happening are met with derision. Because we as a society seem to think being pretty is a cure all, so there’s a huge focus on becoming attractive without any discussion of what happens when you are attractive. Misogyny is a hell of a drug in general, and it seems to get particularly potent when it can be justified by pointing at a woman’s appearance as being such that it attracts the male gaze so she deserves whatever happens to her. Fetishization of attractive POC lends a certain nasty edge to the racial component, and that’s before we start getting into the intersectionality of class with this topic. I know it’s a tricky area to discuss, but I want to start having the discussion any way. You in?

71 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Being Pretty”

  1. LaTasha R. Jones says:

    I’m in! This hits home in many, many, many ways. Glad someone else has had the gall to write about it in a public forum.

  2. Fire Fly says:

    I believe that’s what’s usually referred to as ‘benevolent sexism’ i.e. that you get certain benefits (I wouldn’t call them privileges) so long as you toe the male-supremacist line. As soon as you don’t abide by its rules (which are contradictory anyway, and designed to control) you’re hit with the full force of misogyny.

    And people who don’t abide by them because they aren’t good looking according to the conventions of the time are treated badly in different ways. Attractiveness is not a game you can win. It’s rigged. The house always wins.

    I’d say there’s a good dose of femmephobia there as well – the notion that feminised qualities like self-decoration render someone an aesthetic object, with no other qualities or capabilities than to please the ‘real’ people with ‘real’ agency and capabilities (men).

    It’s associated with some deep misogyny in western culture that renders a hard dichotomy between caring about appearance/fashion and caring about ideas and intellectualism. I mean, there’s a long history of keeping women out of higher education in western societies because of these kinds of ideologies.

  3. Jay says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. Besides the harassment and the notion that pretty = total airhead another pitfall I’ve encountered are the comments like “You’re so pretty…why don’t you have a man/wear your hair like this/ with a little mascara you’d be just PERFECT!” Because, you know, I must be lazy or slacking off in my job and personal relationships for no other reason than that I am not living up to my Pretty Potential if I’m not dressed to the nines every day.

    I’m also thin and I find that I get a lot of grief specifically from other women because of it. This isn’t a pity the skinny girl thing. I do however wish that instead of my co-workers and friends half-jokingly (but also, I guarantee it, half-seriously) calling me a “skinny bitch” and looking at me like I am somehow the enemy they could learn to be comfortable and happy in their own skin. I’m fully aware that this is skinny-priviledge talking, but it makes me uncomfortable, it seems catty and causes hurt feelings on both sides, and only (as far as I can tell) seems to reinforce in their minds that they are somehow not good enough because they are not a “skinny bitch” like me. Yet I cannot explain why such “jokes” are hurtful to both parties because I happen to more closely match an arbitrary societal view of “Pretty” and therefore cannot possibly understand the pressures and the heartache that go along with trying to achieve the impossible Full Pretty Potential.

    On another note, if you haven’t heard Emilie Autumn’s “Thank God I’m Pretty” I recommend giving it a listen. It seems to sum up this blog post and gives us such nice lyrics as “Thank God I’m pretty/ every skill I ever have will be in question” and “I think my ego would fall right through the cracks in the floor if I couldn’t count on men to slap my ass anymore.”

  4. Tish says:

    “Then again so did the idea that he wasn’t entitled to my being receptive to his overtures so we went the standard misogynistic insult route when I didn’t play my part of his internal script.”

    Favorite line. I thought I was the only one that felt that way when conversing with some men.

    Great post!

  5. Cate says:

    This is such a great post, and gets right to the heart of how complicated all of this is.

    In my profession, I must “dress up” to “earn” the presumption of competence. My white male colleagues do not face this problem, but my non-white male colleagues do – if you looked around my place of work you would see white men who appear to have rolled right out of bed, and women (white and non-white) and men of color who look like they stepped out of the pages of J Crew or Talbots or (pick your poison). I know, every morning, when I put on my dress and apply my make up that I am not only doing these things for myself – and I am; I love my body, its shape, my legs, my breasts – but because they are a short-cut to avoiding challenges to my authority. Simply put, I never get a day when I can roll into work in my pajamas, whereas every day is PJ day for my white male colleagues.

    And yet, and yet . . . with that act of “dressing up” come comments and gazes that I do not ask for – there is a presumption that I am “using” my attractiveness (self-defined) somehow. And the thin line I’m asked to walk where I must cover myself as much as possible (even on days like today when it’s almost 100 degrees) not because I choose that, but because I’m presumed to be sexualizing my workplace if I show skin? I am not the issue here – I am not dressing to be considered a sexual creature, but for comfort. It’s the gaze of others that transforms comfort into “wanting it”.

    And here is the crowning event in my “dressing up” – that I wear a ring on the fourth finger of my left hand because without it, I am “fair game.” I am not married; I don’t wish to be married – the ring is there as a defense. And, more personally, that ring has become a token of my respect for myself – that I marry myself, each and every day, as someone worth more than the judgments placed upon my body.

  6. unusualmusic says:

    It is extremely irritating to me that it is considered de rigeur that a woman must have makeup, must have her hair put a certain way, must wear suits that must be perfectly conformed to her body (too tight and you are a whore, too loose and you are sloppy but wellfitted and you get unwanted attention); plus must have a great variety of clothing (after all you must be a fashion plate, whether you care about clothing or not) BEFORE she is even on the path to having whatever intellectual qualifications that are needed for her job. Its like she is paying a freaking appearance tax, and it isn’t as if she is getting paid the same amount as men do, in fact, she is paid much less! And what is so damn annoying is that other women can be just as ruthless at enforcing this misogynist norms as men can be, its damned kyriarchy and dear lord I am sick of it.

  7. betsyl says:

    when i have short hair, i look like a fat dyke (which i am) and when i have longer hair which i do at the moment, i look like a fat soccer mom (which i am not yet but hope to be soon). which is to say this shit doesn’t happen to me much. but the other week, when i was coming back from lunch, i was cordially invited to hop on top of someone and ride him. i am thirty seven years old, and this particular thing has never happened to me before. my thoughts were “druuuuuunk, need to tell restaurant management” (he was, and i did), and “how in the hell do conventionally attractive women put up with this shit?”

  8. London says:

    Thank you for this post. It is a relief to hear that it is not just me, even though I wish no one ever had to go through it.

    I live in a city and, since I don’t have a car (yet!), I walk everywhere. I also just graduated from law school, which means I have two sets of experiences on this. Both equally disheartening I’m afraid.

    First, to add to what Cate and unusualmusic said, I run into these issues with work, but in a slightly different way. I have been told many times by female attorneys in many different contexts that I should not dress effeminately, or I will be mistaken for a paralegal or secretary and treated with less respect accordingly. That is upsetting in and of itself because there is no reason to assume that a woman who dresses *like a woman* is in a stereotypically female job, and there is also no reason to treat a woman who “ranks” below you with less respect than you would your peer. Seriously, why is it okay to hit on a secretary but not an attorney? It isn’t. Why is it okay to assume you know a woman’s career based merely on her outfit? Or her intelligence or character or anything else? It ISN’T okay. I used to wear dresses and skirts and jewelry and beautiful bright colors, but now I almost never do, in the office or anywhere else. In the office, in fact, I no longer feel comfortable wearing pretty much anything, not even mascara or open toed shoes, because I am afraid I will be treated like an object at worst and certainly not like a lawyer. I will be wearing a pressed black, navy, or dark brown suit until the day I die.

    But it gets worse, too, because I get harassed when I go out in the city, no matter what I wear. I get harassed in my lawyer clothes, I think because I look “rich” (hah) and people feel the need to take me down a peg. I get harassed in everyday clothes, even wearing grungy jeans and a sweatshirt. I’m not especially pretty, but I’m short and have long-hair and glasses, and all that makes me look feminine and, I suspect, it makes me look like an easy target. Like karnythia was saying, femininity seems to attract unwelcome attentions by itself. In addition I attract some creepy guys who get off on how short I am, and want to physically dominate me I think; even if they never get that close to me, they will try to dominate me with words or say generally creepy, violent things, in broad daylight, in the middle of a street, as it pleases them.

    I can try to detract attention from myself all I want, but really, there’s only so much I can do. I can’t change my height, for example; and more importantly changing my habits means I’m basically punishing myself for the terrible way that some men judge me and treat me.

  9. kyleth says:

    Even people who are not thin get this kind of harassment. I’m not a big fluffy girl, but I still wear a 16-18 on a good day. Anytime I go out, I get exoticized to the point that men have flashed me in the parking lot after asking me to go screw them in their trucks. Yes I am attractive, but I am not a walking hole for any man’s gratification. Even in a car oriented city there is still plenty of harassment to go around. Sadly that kind of shit makes me wish I were over 400lbs again

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  12. john macadam says:

    I’m not quite sure what this particular blog was about. If its being harassed in public, isn’ a continuation of an earlier one from a couple of days ago. Or is it about if you are deemed pretty, you are also deemed stupid? I wasn’t quite sure

    1. gauche says:

      It’s about sexual harassment,it’s INTERSECTION with perceived attractiveness(in this case,general society’s accepted definitions of it), as well as race, and the stereotypes and unwarranted behaviors they bring to the table.

      I haven’t read the prior column you’re referring to but it’s not surprising if this seems to be or is a continuation of a prior topic because sadly,for many ,this is a common if not DAILY recurrence.

      Great post,by the way!

    2. Kayln McGee says:

      I completely agree with you on this one, John. I read the title and said, “Okay. I’ll bite.” I am, however baffled by the significance of this post, considering that a persons ideology of attractiveness is, for the most part, based purely on perception. I am not sure what the moral of the story is except to say, “Look at me! I’m so pretty and I’m tired of people thinking I’m stupid because of it.” You say it isn’t about that but it sure does scream all the signs of a shallow piece of writing, feigning depth by way of thesaurus inspired words you’ve thrown in here and again. I’m not buying it. I’ve bitten. Now I’m only left curious as to whether or not the cartoon avatar is an accurate adaptation of all that beauty getting you harassed on of all places… the bus. In which case, given the unsavory characters who are usually caught riding public transportation, you’re lucky you haven’t been raped and robbed and that has little or nothing to do with looks, I assure you. Let’s face it, a 700lb gorilla would get harassed on one of those things. It isn’t you. It’s the way you’re getting around your city. Surely your grown up job will allot for the consideration of adding cab fare to your budget. That should cut down on all that harassment you’re suffering through.

      1. karnythia says:

        I let this comment through solely to highlight the fact that you’ve just proved my point for me about the way bystanders react. Why on earth should I have to take a cab every day in order to go about my life? The solution here isn’t for women to have to change their lives in order to keep from being harassed.

        1. Kayln McGee says:

          I said I missed the point. I mean damn. Hee-hee!It was easier for you to just make it make sense because the point escaped me rather than get your feathers in a ruffle. That’s what I do when I write something that someone doesn’t understand. It doesn’t bother me to explain something when my readers fail to get it. Black people are so emotional sometimes.(Yes, I am black) Why get huffy? It’s not that serious. LOL I can’t wear my emotions on my sleeves like that. I’d always be upset if I let everyone who responded in a way I didn’t particularly like get under my skin and make me respond in the way you have. Seriously? Geez. You people are so sensitive.

          1. karnythia says:

            No one’s feathers are ruffled. Your ongoing inability to read for content is amusing though.

          2. wishesarefishes says:

            I don’t think the response to your comment was particularly defensive. It was blunt, to the point and made a counter argument to what you had written. Furthermore, just because you are black does not make a broad statement such as “black people are so emotional sometimes” acceptable. Also as other posters have pointed out, your clear disdain for people who ride the bus reeks of elitism.

      2. Cate says:

        “given the unsavory characters who are usually caught riding public transportation . . . ”

        You mean those people for whom a bus is the only affordable form of transportation?

      3. Veronica S. says:

        Surely your grown up job will allot for the consideration of adding cab fare to your budget.

        My job is a forty-buck cab ride from my apartment. One way. Perhaps your grown-up job is enough to do that a few times a week. Lucky you.

  13. Whit says:

    I’m not sure where Jay is from, I’m going to assume the south or one of the coasts, because I’ve never seen a dynamic like that take place, and I say this as an attractive fat woman with mostly skinny and otherwise conventionally attractive women friends.

    The only thing that really irritates me about skinny people is when they start bragging about how they survive on 1200 calories a day or engage in what is probably exercise bulemia to maintain their svelte figure – or worst of all, suggesting “slimming” fashion, diet &/or exercise tips. Then, yanno, piss off.

  14. Rebecca says:

    I originally replied on Alas a blog. I thought I would reply here too. I hope you don’t mind.

    -“being pretty doesn’t do away with any of those -oppressions. In fact it can heighten the -incidence rate.”

    No, I don’t agree.

    Yes, it is good that you can post about your experiences and these experiences are valid. I have yet to see a post about what an unattractive/ugly person actually goes through. And this I feel has a lot to do with the humiliation that they will face if they discuss what has occurred to them.

    Being ugly or unattractive does not stop the harassment in fact the abuse just escalates to new, horrific levels.

    You will be told that the only sex you will get is rape (stranger rape – date rape) so you best appreciate it should it ever happen to you.
    You will be informed and any violent assault or violence (accident etc) resulting in your injury or death will be seen as a source of amusement.
    Any interactions that you have with males will be interpreted as you chatting them up at which they will be deeply offended.(this includes ‘chatting up’ such as asking for directions etc).
    Access to activities is fraught with accusations that you are just there to chase men.
    All of these statements and actions are committed by men.

    -“Some of my harassers have gone so far as to -claim that everything I do is to attract their -attention. The other day I actually had a guy -insist that I wouldn’t have sat in the same row -as he did on the bus if I wasn’t interested. -Apparently the concept of public transport -eluded him. Then again so did the idea that he -wasn’t entitled to my being receptive to his -overtures so we went the standard misogynistic -insult route when I didn’t play my part of his -internal script”.

    Tell me about it! As an unattractive women I have the same problem. I should be receptive to their sexual advances as I am a dog who is desperate even though they hold me in contempt. I am viewed as convenient there until something better comes along.

    -“I’m having to prove my intelligence over and -over again to people who should have a clue”.

    Yep! I have had this too. ‘You are ugly so you must be stupid.’ ‘I am amazed that someone as unattractive as you can achieve anything.’

    -“Because we as a society seem to think being -pretty is a cure all, so there’s a huge focus -on becoming attractive without any discussion -of what happens when you are attractive”.

    The reason women would like to become pretty or attractive simply is resources. Better access to resources in general and also not having that feeling that the majority in society would rather see you dead.

    ‘You should be locked up you f@(K!N four eyed freak!’ screamed at me from a car load of males whilst walking home one evening. I was pretty upset and fortunately my flatmate didn’t laugh at me when he heard what had happened. This is a first. People just usually laugh at you when they hear things like this occur.

    A few years ago I took out the words ‘pretty, beautiful, ugly and plain’ out of my vocabulary to describe the physical appearance of another human being. It works wonders in changing the way I perceived the world.

    1. karnythia says:

      At what point did I suggest that this problem was solely one for conventionally attractive women? Oh wait, I didn’t. In fact I explicitly stated otherwise. As for not writing this post from a different perspective? All I can do is write from my perspective. Feel free to post something from your own.

      1. Rebecca says:

        ‘At what point did I suggest that this problem was solely one for conventionally attractive women?’

        You said: -”being pretty doesn’t do away with any of those -oppressions. In fact it can heighten the -incidence rate.”

        Ummm no it doesn’t.

        The oppressions are pretty consistent all around. The reason you perceive the oppressions heighten due to attractiveness levels is because it is reported on more often.

        What happens to so called ugly women is very rarely spoken about or reported on. This is due to the ingrained attitude of society to these women. Also consider that there is a higher rate of physical, verbal and sexual assaults against people with physical and/or mental disabilities.

        ‘All I can do is write from my perspective.’

        So can I

        ‘Feel free to post something from your own.’

        I did, in response to yours.

        1. karnythia says:

          Do you know what incidence rate means? I’m speaking of these events occurring more often to a specific population (in this case me) over a specific period of time. It is happening much more often now than ever before in my life. There is an ingrained attitude that pretty women cannot complain about what happens to them because of so-called pretty privilege. I never said that there isn’t a higher rate of harassment and assault for against people with physical or mental disabilities. In fact I never compared my experience to anyone else’s at all. If you’re going to respond you might try sticking to things I’ve actually said instead of things you’ve decided that I meant to say.

          1. Rebecca says:

            ‘If you’re going to respond you might try sticking to things I’ve actually said instead of things you’ve decided that I meant to say.’

            I have stuck to things that have been actually said.

            What you are describing in your blog seems to be standard sexual harassment that occurs to women all of the time. It is usually perpetrated by bullies. Bullies believe that they are entitled to things and they also believe that victims bring bullying behaviour onto themselves. It has been pointed out in a couple of other replies that your ‘heighten the -incidence rate’ may be due to you feminising yourself. Bullies look for easy targets. The way women are portrayed in our society can have consequences on how we are treated. If women = weakness then presenting with all of the classic markings of female may mark you as a victim in the minds of bully males.
            ‘Killing Us Softly Advertising’s Image of Women’

            1. Rebecca says:

              I think this sums it up pretty well.

              The Cement Garden

              ‘For a boy to look like a girl is degrading, cause you think that being a girl is degrading…’ quote from the film.

            2. Rebecca says:

              Apologies, I meant to say heighten incidence rate, not heighten THE incidence rate.

            3. karnythia says:

              No, you haven’t. But, it’s clear that you’ve already decided that I don’t get to have any authority about my own experience since I don’t agree with your perception about what is happening when I’m walking around in my own skin.

          2. Whit says:

            There’s nothing so-called about lookism. Seriously. Good looks are privileged.

    2. Arobinson says:

      Speaking as a 400lb+ woman who has been significantly overweight all of my life, I completely agree with Rebecca. In fact I find this blog entry very off putting. It is a “whoa is me, I’m pretty” post hiding behind $5 words. Those who complain about being objectified as a “pretty woman”…come on my side. I am a survivor of sexual assault…an assault that occurred when I was 300+lbs. When you are a woman and you are outside the societal norms of attractiveness, you are STILL objectified. It’s just that the objectification takes on a brutal animalistic tone that completely denies your humanity because in the eyes of those around you(especially men), you are not pretty therefore you have NO value.

      Everything that Rebecca speaks of, I have had personal experience with. I would even joke with a close friend in college who met the beauty standards of our culture, that it was I who saw the real face of many of the men in our class/school. These men put on a face for her and women like her but showed their true selves to someone like me who they did not care to impress and even viewed with derision for not being “sexy” or “hot”.

      Men whether they be colleagues or classmates don’t want to be your friend even on the basis of shared intellectual/professional pursuits(which has always made me question the idea that men and women in a general sense can truly be non-sexual friends.) Part of it is a fear that people will think they are romantically involved with you…which as a socially deemed unattractive woman you will soon learn is fine behind closed doors but not where anyone might be able to see.

      Before anyone thinks that this is simply the isolated experience of myself and a Rebecca or a few unfortunate women, I have met many women who don’t meet the standard and they have many of the same stories to share. We don’t write articles and blogs about it because it IS embaressing. In our society, even beyond a feeling of failure those who are unattractive(again according to society’s standards) are made to feel a sense of shame for not measuring up.

      Sorry this post is trite, I bet for all of her travails “being pretty”, the writer still would not trade her attributes & experiences for mine.

      1. karnythia says:

        So, after invalidating my experience you want me to respect yours? Hmm, there’s a word for that attitude. You don’t know what I would do, but then you don’t care either. So much easier to decide for me than to listen to me, because I’m pretty and clearly incapable of having any valid emotions or thoughts.

        1. Rebecca says:

          ‘I bet for all of her travails “being pretty”, the writer still would not trade her attributes & experiences for mine’.

          This is a very interesting thing that Arobinson has asked. Would you trade places with one of us? No I don’t think you would because that is not what you are arguing about is it.

          You look good and you enjoy looking good. Unfortunately a lot of men also enjoy the fact that you look good which makes you uncomfortable. So they then proceed to harass you then blame you because in their minds you are the one who has brought this behaviour onto yourself though your desire to look attractive.

          These men have now made you feel bad for wanting to look good.

          Have I summed up what it is that you are saying in your blog?

          There is noting wrong with wanting to look good. No one should dictate to you what you should look like.

          What these men do is what I refer to as TRICKS. A classic example of a trick is the compare and contrast method of humiliation.
          He says (Just say he is a boyfriend or whatever)’I don’t understand why women go to so much trouble with their make-up’ or the classic ‘You must be vain if you are going to so much trouble to look good’.
          You then go out and he then starts leering or even making appreciative comments about the women around you. He could also make disparaging comments about you and your appearance or disparaging comments about other women who do not meet up to his standard….
          IT’S A TRICK….
          He is endeavouring to remind you that your appearance is important not only to him but to all men without directly stating it. His accusation of you being vain ensures in his mind that it is you, not he, who has the problem.

          This is just one of the many tricks that they pull. It is designed to keep women in their place.

          Each one of use including you have had these tricks pulled against us. It is bullying behaviour. It is also objectification.

          It is all about entitlement. This is what I have written in another blog about bullies.

          Bullying really is the expressed contempt for another creature who is viewed as inferior. Howls of indignation rise from bullies when the inferior creature protests or attempts to defend him or herself. It becomes the old mantra of “put up and shut up”. Bullies use the line of “Everyone has bullied and been bullied it is just the way things are” to justify a hierarchy in their world view and legitimise unacceptable behaviour. I don’t think a lot of bullies have experienced bullying and when they eventually do they are indignant that they have been treated in such a manner. The disturbing aspect of this mindset displayed by that of the bully is they honestly believe that they are better than others, which in their minds justifies the treatment they are dishing out.

          Does this sound familiar?

          1. unusualmusic says:

            Seriously? Seriously? Who the hell are you to be defining her experiences for her? Why are you being so freaking patronizing? She has spoken about HER TRUTH. You do not get to try to invalidate it because your experiences are different. NOBODY is saying that people perceived as ugly in our society do not suffer some fucked up shit under the kyriarchy, from both men and women. But people who are considered attractive ALSO suffer fucked up shit from both men and women and they have the right to talk about it, without trivializing and being treated as if they are unintelligent and ignorant of their own goddamn oppression. This is not a fucking zerosum game. ALL women should be treated with dignity and as persons, that that includes people inside and outside of society’s fucked up assumptions about attractiveness.

            1. Rebecca says:

              ‘Who the hell are you to be defining her experiences for her?’

              Am I defining her experiences for her?

              Why are you being so freaking patronizing?

              Am I being patronising?

              ‘You do not get to try to invalidate it because your experiences are different’.

              Have I invalidated what she has gone thought?

              ‘But people who are considered attractive ALSO suffer fucked up shit…’

              From what I have written I have not made any statement that says they don’t.

              ‘….both men and women and they have the right to talk about it, without trivializing and being treated as if they are unintelligent and ignorant of their own goddamn oppression’.

              No one here has trivialised what she has gone through. In fact unusualmusic/karnythia what all of us here have gone through is pretty distressing.
              I don’t see how sharing our own experiences is trivialising hers.

            2. Arobinson says:

              Wow…why are you cursing? In no place and in none of her responses did Rebecca curse at anyone. Is it immaturity or a lack of vocabulary? Now before you accuse me of holding you to a different standard because we are women…I hold every adult that I communicate with to the same standard. It’s fine to express your disagreement, even anger but it takes away from the power of your opinion when you do not know how to use appropriate language.

            3. karnythia says:

              Arobinson we don’t do the tone argument here. You can think whatever you like, but backhanded insults about maturity and insistence that someone adhere to your preferred language style will not end well.

          2. karnythia says:

            So, once again you’re not interested in my answers. Instead you’d rather project (and engage in some backhanded insults too!) rather than actually have a discussion. One wonders why exactly you’re here if you think I’m a bully though since I’m clearly unlikely to alter my oppressive behavior of talking about my own experiences in public.

        2. Arobinson says:

          Okay, perhaps you should take a course in argumentation. Someone saying that they do not agree with your opinion and even giving their opinion of your experience does NOT invalidate your experience. It is possible to invalidate someone’s opinion, it is metaphysically impossible to invalidate someone’s experience UNLESS you are calling them a liar.

          I am not calling you a liar. I do think that you embrace victim hood to a certain degree, that is where the “whoa is me, I’m pretty” statement came in. Tell me, what would you think about a woman who verbalized to you(not in a blog entry) the following: ” I am just so pretty, I’m so pretty and men are always attracted to me and try to come on to me, then when I’m not interested they become angry. I’m objectified for my prettiness. I am attractive head to toe and people see it. I’m just pretty. I have pretty teeth and a nice figure, oh my facial features-they’re pretty too. Why can’t people see how hard it is for a pretty person like me? I have it so hard!…” on and on ad nauseum. I don’t think you’d be high fiving her in solidarity.

          One of the primary reasons that I find your post off putting beyond the assumption that your increased attractiveness makes you more vulnerable to assault is that you assume it is your traffic stopping prettiness that is the reason for the catcalls and what not. It’s our society plain and simple and has nothing to do with your looks. Your description does not seem to place you as a Halle Berry or Angelina Jolie, one of those women that is just placed on a pedestal for her looks. In our society women who are reasonably thin and wear a skirt will recieve cat calls and all kinds of attention from men even if they wear a bag over their head. It’s the objectification of the feminine persona plain and simple. To lay it at the door of your personal attractiveness is divisive. I also noticed that you mentioned that you wore your hair natural…it’s interesting because most of the gorgeous women that I know who wear natural styles often remark that it takes them off the radar of the average cat calling thuggish guy and these are some fine women. They are still approached but not by your average on the bus joker. I don’t know…I feel as though you’re overstating the issue a wee bit more for your own ego… I’m sure it is an issue for you, a big one…really…but I’m not placing your cause as a primary issue for all woman and writing my congresswoman for you just yet…sorry.

          1. karnythia says:

            Perhaps you should try reading for content instead of projecting things into my post that I never said. I didn’t call my looks traffic stopping, nor did I try to say that anyone else isn’t experiencing the same thing. Your refusal to step back and look at the number of times you’ve felt the need to insult me (in this comment alone) and consider why it is that you can’t discuss the issue at hand without attacking me is very telling. One of us is determined to invalidate someone else’s experience and it isn’t me…

            1. Rebecca says:

              Oops apologies I meant to reply to this thread…silly me.


              I am finding these discussion with karnythia increasingly futile. I am with John on this, after putting forward some propositions and attempting some clarification I must admit I am a little lost! This discussion reminds me a lot like Monty Pythons ‘Five Minute Argument’ sketch.

              ‘An argument is a collective series of statements to establish a definite proposition. It isn’t just contradiction.’
              ‘an argument is an intellectual process, while contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.’


              LOL, it’s all very silly :-D LOL

  15. Amelia says:

    It’s horrible how much sexual harrassment so many women have to put up with. I’m fairly plain looking (I get some sexual harrassment but not a lot). I feel very lucky to not have to deal with it more frequently – every week or every day. Maggie Hadleigh-West’s documentary on street harrassment has a great title describing it: “War Zone” (and it seems like walking in public is much more of a war zone for some girls/women than it is for others).

    Something that makes me sad is that for many girls (like myself) every man in their life has treated them well, and then suddenly they enter puberty and men who are complete strangers to them suddenly start treating them badly (and sometimes threateningly). It seems bizarre to me that I can escape this treatment from men who actually know my name, but I can’t escape this treatment from strangers. It’s sad that all girls have to grow up and learn to be distrustful of the men around them – even when they are in public, crowded, daytime places. There’s something in society that makes sexual harassment permissible, or at least treats it as basically harmless.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Amelia, Thank-you so much for the ‘War Zone’ suggestion. It looks really good. I have seen a preview but not the film. I will keep my eye out for it. :-)

  16. Dominique says:

    Excellent post and comments. Well said all around. Sometimes it’s really hard to convey the frustration of deconstructing “pretty privilege”. You did it really well. Thank you.

  17. Morrigan says:

    I’ve seen this from several sides.

    When I was younger, much more svelte, and had my hair long, I used to dread having to take public transportation. I would invariably get at the very least lingering stares, and at the worst have to fend off gropes from men who felt entitled to enjoy my body. Any protestation or, far more shocking, physical rejection of these advances was met with something close to rage. I learned eventually to modify my body language in public, to project aggressiveness, and that cut down the unwanted attention considerably.

    Now that I am far heavier and wear my hair cropped close, I am much more comfortable in public spaces. Sure, there are still comments, sometimes much more laden with disgust and overt hatred, but it isn’t EVERY time now.

    Not surprisingly, when I dress in masculine clothing, and can pass easily as a fat boy rather than female at all, I get little if any notice.

    Professionally, the more masculine my dress and presentation are, the more seriously I have been taken. Now, fair disclosure, most of this has taken place within differing fields of construction, on the blue-collar side, so I am sure there are significant differences from the way such masculinization would be taken in a white-collar workplace. For me, it is comfortable, as I am rather gender-fluid, but the paradigm of capable = male is not lost on me.

  18. Liz says:

    I really like the points that Rebecca brought up. Although there is a real overlap, I think there might need to be a distinction made between feminine presentation and conventional attractiveness. I think some of what karnythia is talking about in her original blog post is more about the differing reactions received when presenting femmey and presenting butchy or gender-variant, especially in this section about hair cuts:

    “My decision to go natural, and put my hair into comb coils means that I now have longish hair with a minimum amount of effort. In the past when I was the aforementioned B cup and had a habit of wearing my hair short I’d run into harassment probably once or twice a week.”

    In my experience, it’s not attractiveness as much as femmey presentation that seems to be the target for cat calling and public advances. I present butchy, and I almost never get cat called or hit on. However, my friends who present femmey, at all sizes and body types, are targeted frequently. In addition, on the rare occasions that I decide to put on a dress or skirt or even *gasp* makeup, I run into that kind of harassment every few feet.

  19. qalamity says:

    Hey Rebecca, great post!
    I was actually considering to try and write something along those lines, when I read the blog and comments. I totally agree about pretty-privilege being a double-edged sword, and it is a valid point to make, but not being perceived as pretty in no way means you escape harassment.

  20. asada says:

    I love the title of this article. It gets your point accross well enough and is non-threatening.

    As someone considered unattractive, I am well aware of the harassment I can avoid. I am also well aware of the condescending attention I recieve from people who feel I have let them down somehow by not trying to be “more attractive”.

    Discuss away, I am totally in!!!

  21. Drosef says:

    Just wait until you are old and ugly and the closest thing to people hitting on you is people recoiling with slight distaste from your withered form.

    Then see if you consider physical beauty a double edged sword.

    If it is, looking back now, I can see that edge with which I once sliced through life like cake was razor sharp, and the other edge was dull at best.

    Guess how both edges are now? Life doesn’t slice easily anymore…

    1. karnythia says:

      Why would my opinion change with age? For that matter what makes you think that everyone recoils from the elderly? There’s a lot of assumptions in this comment that really don’t have anything to do with the discussion other than proving that bystander point again.

      1. Arobinson says:

        Karnythia(if I might be so presumptuous as to call you by what I assume is your first name, I am not trying to be forward or too familiar), you seem to react in a very defensive way when respondents post their own experiences on the other side of the attractive game with those experiences differing from your own view. The fact is that your entry does seem to convey that you believe increased attractiveness=increased levels of oppression, etc. You accuse people of not accepting your right to tell your own story BUT you don’t seem to be comfortable with others responding with their own stories that perhaps differ from your own. It also seems as though the desire to defend your viewpoint has created a temporary blindness to many of the issues affecting women in our society.

        One example: Your response to Drosef which basically implied that her recognition of the way that our society belittles and ignores women past a certain age is merely an unfounded personal assumption on the part of Drosef with no basis in substantiated fact seems to be a little off. You don’t have to sit through too many women’s studies courses to know that ageism and sexism are exonorably linked in our society which places young women on a pedestal. Our society does recoil from the elderly as a whole and elderly women primarily. Our society treats aging as though it were a disease. You then ask why your opinion would change with age…because you will be living it and not merely speculating about it. Too many women have been in your place when they were young only to find themselves in Drosef’s place when they became of a certain age. I promise you, no matter how onerous the designation to the individual woman,a woman’s days of being a “hottie” are numbered in our culture. You don’t miss the benefits until they’re gone. You don’t miss the sword(double edged though it may be) until you’re left defenseless. To paraphrase one respondent: it is true, women desire beauty in the end because they want access to resources. Beauty is the only socially acceptable power for a woman to have.

        You had two respondents share the perspective of two marginalized groups of women in our society: those not meeting the beauty standard as young women and those who are older and by that very fact are left outside of the standard. Their viewpoints are valid as well as yours. I think it would be beneficial to the entire discussion if you put aside your desire to defend and instead decided to look at things from another perspective. That is what you are in essence asking of others when you wrote this blog entry, perhaps it would be best to return the favor.

        1. karnythia says:

          I’m not reacting defensively. I’m simply stating my perspective. Somehow I’m supposed to feel bad for liking the way that I look and feeling like the way I’ve been treated is unacceptable. These calls for me to show solidarity by debasing myself aren’t going to inspire much discussion since many of the posters you reference seem to be too busy putting words in my mouth and kneejerking to listen to what I actually said over the roar of their discomfort. I’ve been sexually assaulted (the first time I was a toddler) so I know the issue is more complex than looks. I said so in my post. My point here was to speak to my specific current experience. I cannot (and would not) speak to everyone’s experience. I can only speak to my own, and I will not feel bad for doing so. I’ve managed not to demean anyone else or deliberately invalidate anyone else’s experience, but the same cannot be said of the comments I’ve received.

          1. Rebecca says:

            ‘Somehow I’m supposed to feel bad for liking the way that I look’.

            But who is making you feel bad. No one here is. At least from all of the responses I have seen no one really has an issue with the way you look.

            If you are saying the above in reference to you blog then it is men that are making you feel bad for the way you look. Why is it that these men want to make you feel bad for wanting to look good? It is these same men that make Arobinson and myself feel bad for the way we look.

            It is objectification.

            ‘These calls for me to show solidarity by debasing myself aren’t going to inspire much discussion…’

            No one has asked you to debase yourself.

            1. karnythia says:

              You clearly aren’t reading all the comments or perhaps you feel I deserve some of the backhanded insults. Either way, you seem determined to derail instead of actually having a discussion.

  22. lauren says:

    I think what this post and Rebecca’s comment drive home is that there is no way to escape misogynist harrassment.

    If you fit into the expectations of the patriarchy by presenting as femmy and matching the general idea of beaty- well, then you are obviousely asking for it! Otherwise, why would you leave the house looking like that? Oh, and if you refuse to play along, it’s because you are arrogant and stuck up and don’t know your place.

    If you don’t fit the expectations, by not being “pretty” or not presenting in a suffuciently feminine manner- well, than you should thank the people who harrass you (and worse), because it’s the only kind of attention you will ever get. And if you refuse to play along, its because you’re bitter, and delousional and don’t know you place.

    You’re too pretty to be smart/ you’re obviousely stupid because you are not pretty.

    People who want to uphold patriarchial values can use your compliance with the rules as a weapon against you just as they can use your non-compliance. There is no winning.

  23. Aaron says:

    Hmm, I don’t know… I’ve been having this trouble with the question of personal experience with regards to a lot of things lately. Of course everyone’s experiences are significant, and should be heard. But… For example, there are definitely places where a white conventionally attractive woman on a bus is going to get a lot more harassment than a black equally attractive woman. Maybe it’s because she’s an anomaly in that neighborhood, maybe it’s related to the disgusting assumption in this country that beautiful=white or feminine=white. But whatever it is, if this woman then posted about how obviously being white doesn’t get rid of the issue of sexism, and that in fact in her experience it heightens the incidence rate (if she were to compare the unwanted attention received by her pretty black friend on the same bus that is, as she obviously could not move from one group to the other)… Well, I guess I would say she is kind of missing the point, that it’s within the bigger issue of sexism. Not that this experience isn’t valid, and not that I wouldn’t give sympathy to a friend in this situation, but I’m not sure it broadens the discussion of sexism, because it is the white girl’s voice we always hear. The news loves covering a white woman’s rape, or the abduction of a white child, or a white person’s death. But this is particularly true if that abducted white girl is pretty, and has a tragic looking picture they can put next to the article.

    And similarly, attention is typically given to the harassment of pretty people. When women complain about being harassed they are often pretty, because although a less attractive woman might get just as much attention (although in your experience this was not the case) if an ugly woman were to complain she would be met with derision. There was a terrible post secret a long time ago, that roughly said “when I tell people I was raped I feel like I have to add ‘I was pretty back then.” (I feel super weird “citing” post secret, but a number of people above seemed to express a similar sentiment.) Whether it’s to their face or not, when non-conventionally attractive people claim to be sexually assaulted there will be jokes like “she wishes” or “she should be happy.” And so they don’t express it, particularly if it was something as “innocuous” as catcalls, or just “a little” groping… Does this invalidate the experience of pretty people who undergo the same thing? Absolutely not. But I’m not sure who’s saying it does. Every case of harassment I’m aware of (I’m thinking of office lawsuits, or Hollywood scandals) was brought about by traditionally attractive, (usually) young women. Does talking about the experience of pretty people really add to this discussion? I’m not sure it does, because this discussion is made up of predominantly pretty people already.

    I do really like what was mentioned a couple times above, that it is often a question of how feminine you present yourself. This makes me really angry – why can I wear orange to the office but not pink? – but I don’t know if this is exactly what you were saying, although you definitely covered this as well.

  24. some girl says:

    wow…interesting discussion. it’s probably not quite right for me to comment, as i’m white/blonde/blueeyed, and nonetheless i think i can contribute because in the end this here is not really about the colour of your skin, but about men trying to stay on top, objectifying women and keeping them in “their place”, whatever that may be in the male opinion (and, to rule that out right at the beginning, i’m not trying to ignore issues of black women/men, i fully acknowlidge the problems you may have and i feel really sorry for humanity for still making it an issue in the f****** 21st century, because there are definitely other problems worth worrying about and humans should view each another as humans regardless of colour, gender, language, wealth, appearance in general, because we’re one f****** species…i digress) . (btw, sorry if my writing reads kind of strange, i’m not a native english speaker, my vocabulary is limited and my grammar may be weird, but i hope i can bring my point across).

    ok, so on to what i wanted to say in the first place: i definitely agree wih Arobinson and Rebecca and also Drosef, your arguments are valid. harrassment is everywhere, attractiveness as in a code for beauty commonly agreed on (though without negotiations) in the past few decades (because the codes were different in previous decades and centuries and “evolved” from there) is NOT a basic prerequisite for harrassment. as arobinson and rebecca already stated, “men” in general (which is not to say every man is like that, that would be bs) who want to keep their position of power can turn everything against you as a woman – be it your attractiveness, because then of course “you’re asking for it”, or your “unattractiveness”, cause that’s when you sould be thankful for every kind of attention you get (and cruel words hissed at you in the street are attention, even if the negative kind). also, attractiveness does not equal how you present yourself. even if you have symmetrical features, straight and sparkly teeth, long hair and a dd, but present yourself in a more masculine manner, not wearing skirts, makeup, shirts with deep decolleté, you might not be very attractive in the conventional sense. it’s all been said before. essentially it boils down (at least i think so) to gender, to the traditional role of the woman in society and to some men (surely there are also women) not being able to accept that humanity evolves and with it the perceptions, traditions and roles of both women and men and everything in between change. i’m not a scientist and have no academic background, but it all just seems pretty obvious. and then again, it’s probably not that obvious, because scientists would have it figured all out by now.

    oh, and just to add my own story to all your personal experiences:
    as i said, i’m blonde and blueeyed, which is not a problem of itself. but i was born in a country, more specifically in the far southeast of europe, where people have dark eyes, dark hair, and generally different features than i have. this made me kind of an alien. even more so, as my own familiy is darkhaired, darkeyed, of jewish and – funnily, because it’s a contradiction- roma descent. so i was always looked at suspiciously, always hit on by strangers on the street because i was different and didn’t meet their beauty-standards and so was thought of as someone who should consider herself lucky if she one day finds a decent man. now i live in a different country where i fit in with the majority, but still sometimes get harrassed in the streets – not because i’m so attractive by any means (i’m average, short, have some meat on my bones, nothing special), and probably not because i’m so overly feminine (i mostly wear pants, casual attire, sneakers, nothing loud, superfeminine or sexy) but just because someone has that urge to blurt out some mysogynist remark right the moment i walk by, so i think it’s mostly just bad timing and a coincidence, and he could target every other woman that walks by, with different remarks and different effects. i chose not to be too affected by it, because it’s not worth my time, he’s not worth the air i breathe when answering him, and ultimately he is someone to pity, because this is the only way he can claim his “power” (ok, i know, there are violent types, but that was not really the subject, was it?).

    alright, enough rambling, i’ve written way too much anyway and kind of forgot what my point was…

  25. Maria says:

    I was thinking more about your post this morning, and I thought about how being “pretty” (IE light-skinned with good hair) for black women during slavery put you more at risk for sexual assault and gendered violence, since you were more likely to be a house slave, and were more likely to spend a lot of time around the master, the mistress, and their friends.

  26. Rebecca says:

    I am finding these discussion with karnythia increasingly futile. I am with John on this after putting forward some propositions and attempting some clarification I must admit I am a little lost! This discussion reminds me a lot like Monty Pythons ‘Five Minute Argument’ sketch.

    ‘An argument is a collective series of statements to establish a definite proposition. It isn’t just contradiction.’
    ‘an argument is an intellectual process, while contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.’

    Monty Python’s ‘Five Minute Argument’ Sketch.

  27. Whit says:

    Well shit. I made a comment on my way out the door of work, and it got lost.

    The gist of it is that on a purely emotional knee jerk reaction level, it is somewhat irritating that again we are discussing attractive people. And I’m not saying that all these discussions need to come with a disclaimer. It just makes it hard to sort out the body positive spaces from the rest, you know?

    And yes, being thin and attractive catches people, especially femme-y ones, a lot of crap. It does. But all other things being equal, the thin attractive person is going to catch less crap, and less virulent crap, than the fat, ugly one. Not that all ugly people are fat, but fat is usually considered unacceptable & unattractive.

    So of course it’s apples to oranges to try to compare how a pretty WOC is treated compared to an unattractive white woman. But I’m telling you this as someone who is biracial and lives between white and brown communities: I don’t know that this is a body positive, fat positive space. So it’s harder to let my guard down about this issue and give the benefit of the doubt.

  28. cocolamala says:


    does being pretty confer privilege? yes.

    does being pretty woman mean you are somehow exempt from street harassment? no.

    will the blog author “miss it” when she’s elderly or unattractive? probs not. considering she’s talking about intrusive and largely unwelcome behaviors – consider the louis ck episode this week, where he follows a black girl home on the bus, even after she rebuffs him many times eventually telling him to “eat a dick”
    um, having a stranger follow you to your doorstep is scary, not a “compliment.

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  31. ErzulieRedEyes says:

    My sister is a beauty queen, while we were growing up i would see how she was treated better and nicer because of her looks, so beauty is a blessing and a privilege in this world.
    But sometimes people will get jealous and tease you or try to hurt you or break you down because they are angry that you look good. I’ve been harassed in the street by men of all races and colors and especially in clubs.
    I laugh it off and keep walking, if the person tries to get violent with you, just fight back and alert police or the nearest person or place of business.
    Sometimes we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
    Pretty and ugly people get attacked and treated bad. But i do think and know that good looks does help more than it hurts.

  32. stellarlunar says:

    Earthquakes, Floods, Famine, Poverty.

    Much bigger issues exist.

  33. Stephanie says:

    This post and all the comments made me sad because of all the shit women have to deal with just walking down the street or riding the bus.

    For me, that’s the issue here – that whether you’re seen as attractive or unattractive, whether you’re black, white or whatever, some people (more of often than not men) think it’s perfectly acceptable to degrade you either through words or actions. But it isn’t acceptable.

    No one has the right to degrade any of us like that and that’s what needs to change – attitudes towards women in general regardless of how attractive they are or how they dress or what job they do (secretary vs. lawyer).

    What sort of person thinks it’s ok to make degrading comments to a woman they don’t even know? What sort of person thinks it’s ok to grope or sexually assault someone just because they’re female? It’s not ok at all and it makes me so angry and so sad that it’s something we have to deal with at all.

    1. littlem says:

      As a biracial WOC who, when in NYC or LA gets taunted as “too fat” and when down South in N. America gets taunted as “too thin”, I’m interested to know in what ways you felt the post you linked to is relevant to the discussion here …?

      I’d also like to direct your attention to a comment made by the author of the post you linked (responding to another comment on her post):

      “I would say that if you don’t want there to be competition of pain or marginalization, don’t compete with your pain or marginalization.”

  34. Stella says:

    To Rebecca: I’m sorry to hear the horror in the way men and/or society have treated you.
    To Karnythia: I feel your pain. For the past few years, I’ve played down my feminine side for this reason. When I can get away with it, I wear t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops everywhere so that men will leave me alone and the women will be nice to me and try to get to know me for who I am rather than what I look like. I realized the other week though, how much I actually love fashion and want to dress nicely from time to time. It’s a form of self-expression. Mixing colors, styles, textures, etc. Then I realized that by dressing down all the time, I was oppressing a part of who I am. And for what? To please others? So that men won’t hit on me and women won’t hate on me? It doesn’t matter. Men will still hit on me and angry/insecure women will still hate on me. (And, by the way, some of those angry/insecure women are beauties.) It has nothing to do with me. The problem is men and the problem is women hating on each other instead of supporting each other. What are we fighting over anyways? Men? Most of them are complete hogs. Not worth fighting over.

    1. lkeke35 says:

      I hear you.

      I dressed down for years in an effort not to draw attention to myself from men or women. I’m not even what most would consider beautiful tho’ I think I look alright. Finally Idecided to stop leting others rude behaviour dictate how I dress myself or how I’m going to feel about myself that day.

  35. ErzulieRedEyes says:

    Just be happy with yourself and your looks! Don’t let people get you down!

  36. Drew says:

    On the spectrum of black —- white, white people have the power and receive abuse when they complain about the problems of being white.

    On the spectrum of attractive —- unattractive, attractive people have the power and receive abuse when they complain about the problems of being pretty.

    On the spectrum of rich —- poor, rich people have the power and receive abuse when they complain about the problems of being rich.

    I think this is how it probably should be. Though it can undoubtedly be hard being either white or pretty or rich, the people with the short end of the stick are understandably not very sympathetic to the plight of the privileged.

  37. Leigh-Andreas Fernandes says:

    Personally, I like getting attention from men. Whether it’s a glance or two looking me over appreciatively, a flirtatious approach or even a catcall/wolfwhistle once in a while. It reminds me that I’m attractive (and which woman can say that she sometimes doesn’t need to be reminded of this in a society where the bar for female attractiveness is so high?) and appreciated (I make an effort with my hair, skin, body, clothing, all of it, and it’s nice when men show that they like it and encourage it).

    As for the “being perceived as an airhead” thing, well, I quite like that, because it just surprises people even more when they get to know me.

    What I don’t enjoy is aggressive, belittling behaviour from men who start insulting you if you turn them down, groups of men who are harassing (as opposed to flattering) wome walking alone and stalking. These are men who are only looking to get with the first girl who responds positively to their attention and who get angry when not all the girls they call after respond to them. But a man who is quite happy to pay a classy compliment or give a look that says “I think you’re hot” and let it be, well that’s quite different.

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