I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think I was at least kind of hot. I’ve been a paid model, I’ve had plenty of boyfriends, and I was even voted “Best Looking” by my high school classmates. I was born with many features considered conventionally attractive, and those combined with a fast metabolism, great health, and decent skills with makeup all contribute to a pretty good-looking exterior. Most people would assume that being attractive makes life easier.
There are some definite perks: preferential treatment in a variety of circumstances, the ability to get out of trouble more easily (thank you officer!), and from many people’s viewpoints, a higher status in our society. However, as desirable as it may seem, being beautiful can make certain aspects of life difficult and sometimes painful.
Psychologist and beauty researcher Dr. Nancy Etcoff’s book, Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, helped me to validate some of my preexisting thoughts on the difficult experiences common to beautiful women and what they mean. The following are the brutal, disappointing struggles unique to beautiful women that I wish someone had warned me about when I was growing up.
- Making female friends will always be difficult. The idea of beauty has been used for centuries to make women feel inferior. Girls are likely to feel jealous and threatened by you and you’re not likely to have many girl friends. Girls are trained to be in competition with each other for the attention of men, and your beauty can make other girls feel terrible about themselves and how they feel they’re supposed to look. It can sometimes feel nearly impossible to forge a normal friendship with a fellow woman, and then there’s the fact that…
- You’ll also never be just one of the guys. Our society is becoming more and more aggressively sexual. Just look at Sport’s Illustrated’s latest swimsuit cover. Men are encouraged to objectify women and are bombarded with sexual imagery during so many of their waking moments. All of your guy friends think about it, and they’ll think about it with you. People will always notice you and think sexually about you. The popularity of “reality” porn proves that men are fantasizing about having sex with people they know – their friend’s relatives, their classmates, their co-workers. Reality porn makes guys think a hookup with anyone is just around the corner. You’ll always be different from your guy friends; there will always be a certain level of objectification in how they see you.
- There are many negative assumptions about beautiful women. Because of the many legitimate advantages granted to good-looking people, many assume that beautiful women use their looks to get what they want. So they must be spoiled, lazy, or unintelligent. The pretty girl at the office obviously slept with her boss to get that promotion. Some people assume that beautiful women are more sexually experienced or more promiscuous than others. Some assume that beautiful women are stuck-up or arrogant. Being conscious of these assumptions can help you try to deny them through your actions, but it can also cause you to be afraid to be yourself. It can feel like a losing battle either way.
- Your actions are likely to be misinterpreted. Because of the assumptions many people have about beautiful women, you have to take special care with your actions because they are more likely to be misinterpreted. Chatting with someone about similar interests at a networking event can lead to them asking for your number, and obviously not for the intention of talking more about effective marketing strategies. Friendliness will be perceived as flirtiness by men who are eagerly anticipating an “in” (this also means you will get hit on everywhere you go, and thus bear the depressing and annoying burden of having to reject a lot of people). Girls who are looking for reasons to justify their dislike for you will perceive your shyness as bitchiness. You have to be hyper-aware of the signals you’re giving off, because often, they’re not being received the way you intended.
- The attention you attract may be dangerous. Most of the people you’ll encounter are harmless. However, not everyone will respect your boundaries, and unfortunately, we can’t pick and choose who we do and don’t want attention from. On a good night, this could mean stares and unwanted men lingering around like gnats. On a bad night, you might encounter one of those assholes that think sex is a “right” and get angry when denied the opportunity. Because of the sheer volume of sexual interest a beautiful woman receives, she’s more likely to encounter predators, so she has to exercise more caution than most.
- Talking about sex is rarely a smart move. This really sucks, because it’s only natural to talk about sex, but doing so when you’re pretty often translates to the idea that you’re interested in potentially having some with whoever happens to be on the other end of the conversation. Because men so frequently think about sex, you can feel compelled to do everything you can to keep it from coming up. Otherwise, your male colleague or friend will want to pursue it, and any possibility of a true friendship, business partnership, or any kind of platonic relationship will dissipate, and it may become nearly impossible for any legitimate attention to be paid to anything you say anymore.
- You are more than your looks – though most people won’t realize it. Whether a person is interested in finding more about your innermost thoughts or he or she is simple and superficial, your most outwardly noticeable features are still what they’re likely to be affected by first. Your appearance is at least usually the first, and sadly, often your most defining characteristic. This can be very damaging to the self-esteem of someone who wants to be known for her creativity, her intellect, or her personality. You are so much more than your looks, and the people who truly matter will recognize that.