The Plight of Pretty People

By Katie, 5:26 am

File this one under the grass is always greener

A new documentary called The Art of Seduction: Not Pretty, Really features interviews with people who are considered attractive by traditional standards. As you’ll see in the trailer, the “pretty people” don’t just acknowledge the perks of their good looks – like getting free stuff – but also describe the frustrations associated with being attractive…to the point of tearing up.  

I won’t lie: my first reaction was pretty darn cynical. Oh woe is me, I thought sarcastically. These poor beautiful people. It must be so difficult being pretty! :roll:

But then I decided to be a little more open-minded and really listen to the points the pretty people are making. One woman expresses frustration at the constant stereotypes; because she’s attractive, she says, people assume she can’t also be intelligent or funny or “deep.” Another woman discusses her difficulty forming friendships, both with men and women. These people realize that they are being praised not for something they’ve done, not for some impressive accomplishment or achievement, but simply because of the way they were born.

Touché.

I’m now officially over my initial cynical reaction, mostly because I think the documentary sends a very important message, one that fits perfectly with my perspective on body image issues:

Being pretty does NOT make life better. Looking a certain way will NOT solve your problems.

Sure, these people enjoy some nice perks, but that obviously doesn’t mean they don’t struggle. It doesn’t mean they aren’t self-conscious or uncomfortable at times, and it definitely doesn’t mean they are always liked and accepted.

The documentary clearly enforces the message that confidence does not and should not come solely from the way someone looks – a message that’s relevant to everyone, regardless of whose beauty standards they fit.

If nothing else, seeing this trailer will force me to think twice the next time I feel a twinge of jealousy towards the gal with mile-high legs or totally unfrizzy hair. It will force me to remember that while the grass usually looks greener on the other side, looks are often deceiving.

What’s your reaction to this documentary about the plight of pretty people?

18 Responses to “The Plight of Pretty People”

  1. I haven’t seen it but I sure intend to watch it now.

    Yes, looks are often deceiving. After my “my story” post last week – I got an email from a girl I knew in high school and she was shocked at what I had shared and told me she had no idea and always thought I had a great life. And since we didn’t know each other – I can only assume she felt that way because of how I looked.

    I think it is sad how our society has all of these standards about beauty and people are clambering and killing themselves to meet them when one) they don’t exist and two) it doesn’t actually mean anything when/if you get there. Looks (and weight) don’t matter in the kind of person you are, what you are experiencing behind closed doors, how you feel or who you really are.

    • Katie says:

      Exactly. I’m glad this documentary is highlighting that fact. And your story with the girl you knew in HS further proves that the assumptions we make about other people based on their looks are rarely accurate.

  2. Simply Life says:

    I hadn’t heard of this film – very interesting! Thanks for sharing -I’ll be curious to watch it!

  3. McKella says:

    Very poignant video! I think that treating pretty/thin people as equals is one of the last frontiers of prejudice to overcome. A lot of us tend to discredit the thoughts of these people because of stereotypes, and it’s widely accepted to do so. It’s ok to make fun of them. “I hate you, you’re so pretty!” Mostly in the form of backhanded compliments. (Can you imagine that same person saying to a friend “I hate you, you’re so ugly” ? Me neither) Pretty people, thin people, fat people, different colored people, we’re all people and prejudice of any kind has no place in a healthy society. Let’s accept the “pretty” people just as most of us are trying to accept overweight people or people who aren’t conventionally beautiful. It’s like pretty people are excluded from the self-love movement.

  4. It’s just one more reminder that everyone struggles with something. BEing pretty might put on a good front, but deep down, everyone struggles…just on different things.

  5. Meg says:

    It is a little laughable people who are so beautiful it’s frustrating. I guess it goes to show two things: 1) beauty does not equal confidence and 2) we get judged by out looks no matter what.

    I tend to look younger than I am (I’m 25). In fact recently I did a friend’s daughter’s hair/makeup for homecoming and while I was watching her take pictures with her date/friends, another mom asked why I wasn’t going…. um, I’m 25 and married? Sometimes I don’t get taken as seriously because I look young, but I keep telling myself it will be worth it when I’m 40. ;)

    • bubu says:

      You’re right, Meg! I always looked more youngish than I liked, but as I approach 37 I realize it’s a bonus!

  6. I think this is as important as talking about self esteem and body image, just because we are a certain size doesn’t mean we are confident or healthy. I think this is a fantastic post to really delve into these topics, because I have always tried to be INCLUSIVE of all people, and there is so much exclusion in movements. So I support the entire – your looks, size weight will not innately make you happy, healthy or confident. It is way more complicated.

  7. Croz' says:

    What is beauty?

    Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart. ~Kahlil Gibran

    That which is striking and beautiful is not always good, but that which is good is always beautiful. ~Ninon de L’Enclos

  8. Teddi says:

    This isn’t necessarily a serious comment, but when I read this post and watched the trailer for the documentary, all I could think of was Ani Defranco’s song “Pretty Girl ” ;-)

  9. I’m having a weird reaction to this post/the film. I know I am pretty…whether or not my body is fat or thin, I’ve always been pretty. But being pretty never made me feel good about myself…it didn’t help the self-loathing I felt. It didn’t make me more confident in the true sense of the word…there were times when I used my beauty in the way that I saw my mother and grandmother use their beauty…for superficial purposes. And what is underneath is sometimes very ugly.

    And so you make an excellent point…

  10. Melanee Dahl says:

    I have to admit that I relate to this very well. I was considered the “pretty one” growing up. I truly believe that no one in my family ever thought I had a brain on my shoulders. But here’s a newsflash people, I was the first cousin (and there were a lot of us) to get a bachelor’s degree. That was several years ago and only one cousin has joined me with that status so far. Guess I’m not that dumb. But the biggest problems have come lately. I gained a significant amount of weight after the birth of my son. My family and friends have no clue how to treat me now. I mean, clearly I’m not the pretty one anymore because I’ve put on weight. So what am I? But honestly, the friendships I’ve made since gaining weight and losing that identity have been so much better. How sad, It’s a real problem. And I hope this doesn’t make me sound conceited. I don’t mean it like that. I just know personally that labeling someone can be incredibly painful, even if they are labeled “pretty.”

    • Katie says:

      It doesn’t sound conceited at all! I appreciate you sharing your experience; it really reinforces the message about labeling.

  11. Sportsgirl says:

    Honestly I didn’t really react to this at all. I figure everyone has problems and no ones life is perfect no matter what they look like! I guess it didn’t highlight anything I didn’t already figure out for myself.

  12. leopardsarah says:

    I can totally relate to this movie and to some of the comments – I have been labeled ‘pretty’ and it was always hard for me. I’ve always been shy and quiet, and in school the combo of quiet and ‘pretty’ gave me a reputation of being snobby (??). Women seem to judge me automatically, and while I’ve always gotten male attention, I can never trust it – the attention is often because of the way I look and not because of who I am. I can understand why people would react cynically to ‘pretty’ people’s ‘complaints’, but there is truth to it. The grass is always greener. And I still completely struggle with self-loathing/self esteem issues, even though I’m conventionally ‘pretty’.

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