Ask Belle: Pretty is as pretty does.
Jun 8, 2012
I’m sure you’ve seen this article, but I thought it would make a good discussion post. I don’t think the woman was very smart, complaining about being treated badly because she’s pretty. But do you think she was right?
The article the reader references was written by a 41-year-old British woman named Samantha Brick. The title? ‘There are downsides to looking this pretty’: Why women hate me for being beautiful.
Whether you think Samantha Brick is attractive or not (the jury is out on that one), we all know that people are treated differently and judged based on the way that they look. Studies have found that tall men are seen as better leaders. Brunettes are viewed as being smarter than blondes. And there have been times in all of our lives where the treatment we received from others was based on our physical appearance.
In the article, Brick laments the horrible treatment that she has suffered at the hands of women jealous of her beauty–never being asked to be a bridesmaid, being turned down for promotions at work–assuming that all of the slights were based on her appearance. But reading the article, I think that the attitude developed by thinking you’re the “fairest in all the land” is the more likely culprit. After all, what woman wants to be friends with someone who is so stuck on herself that she “can’t wait for the wrinkles and grey hair that will help me blend into the background?”
The trouble with believing that you are treated well or poorly solely based on your looks is that it prevents you from considering the possibility that there is another reason for the treatment. Several years ago, a junior employee expressed to a group of our co-workers that she felt I disliked her because she was prettier than I was. The truth was, I had a negative opinion of her because she felt her job was beneath her and often behaved in shockingly immature ways. But in her mind, the only reason for my negative opinion of her was my own jealousy. That lack of perspective is truly dangerous in a professional setting.
So maybe Brick is right. Maybe men give her free things and treat her well because they are so taken with beauty. Maybe women loathe and despise her because she is prettier and slimmer and blonder than they are. But the real problem with her attitude is that it prevents her from considering the possibility that there might be another reason.
And one final thought before I close. It’s empowering when a woman says, “I think I’m beautiful despite my flaws.” But when a woman says, “I am beautiful, and I’m treated differently because of it,” it’s ugly. Because the former is indicative of a positive self-image, and the latter is indicative of a self-centered attitude.
So what do you ladies think? Have you been treated differently because of your appearance? Do you think it’s unfair how much backlash the Brick has received?