Do Women Hate Other Women For Being Beautiful?

Let's talk about The Pretty Penalty—and whether it really exists.
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Michelle Villett
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Let's talk about The Pretty Penalty—and whether it really exists.
beautiful woman

So a classic Daily Mail piece ran the other day—and I'm still not sure whether it's legit or if we all got punk'd.

The writer, one 41-year-old Samantha Brick, insists that her "pleasing appearance" has been a mixed blessing. Sure, random male strangers send bottles of champagne to her table in restaurants; present bouquets of flowers; pay her cab fare and buy her train tickets. But when it comes to other women, apparently it's Mean Girls 2.0. She says they refuse to be photographed with her; shut her out in fear that she'll have an affair with their husbands; pass her over for promotions at work; and just generally act like jealous beeyotches.

Yikes! So much to discuss. Could there be truth to what she's saying... or are people that complain about how pretty they are just self-deluded narcissists? You decide. Here's a photo of Ms. Brick:

Samantha-Brick

Okay, so *I* think she's a decent-looking woman. I'm even going to go out on a limb and and say she looks quite pretty in the pic below:

Samantha-Brick-2

But there are oh, at last count over 5,000 commenters at the Daily Mail who mostly think she's delusional and not pretty at all. Ouch! I think it's photos like this that are giving people pause:

Samantha-Brick-3

And this one:

Samantha-Brick-4

It's all a bit mean, and I'm not entirely convinced the Daily Mail editors didn't deliberately take unflattering photos just to stir the pot. But HECK—how can I say this?—if Ms. Brick is getting stopped in the street all the time, then maybe we all should move to London? (Sorry, no offense to the British—loveyouguys!)

Anyway, let's talk about this. Because I have a lot to say about it, as per usual.

A key reason why this chick may have men falling at her feet

So despite pursuing beauty as my "life's work" (HAR), I'll be the first to say that mastering the art of foundation application or a great blow-dry doesn't a beautiful person make. Of course it helps, but it's not really enough.

OMG, I can't believe I'm saying this now, since I totally dissed this word just the other week... but it's kind of an energy thing.

Let's just assume for a moment that Samantha Brick is indeed telling the truth here. I'll bet you dollars to donuts that she gets all this attention from men not just because of her physical appearance (even SHE says she's no Elle Macpherson), but because she smiles a lot, looks them in the eye, and is genuinely happy, open, friendly and easy to be with.

Whether she is ONLY these things to the opposite sex is up for debate. (Because that does tend to ruffle other women's feathers. See: any season of The Bachelor. Oh, hi Courtney!)

Courtney-Robertson

Anyway, what's going on with our British friend is all speculation—but for our lives across the pond here, I think the fact that your disposition and attitude can do far more for you than, say, a new lipstick, is worth some consideration. So, smile! Flirt! Be happy! Just be gender equal about it.

Also?

Nobody wants to hear pretty people complain about being pretty

Because it spawns the urge to play the world's smallest violin.

I mean, if you truly ARE a knockout, then you just come across as a phony, or at the very least someone who doesn't have real problems. I don't want to pick too much on my friend V., who has stupidly perfect skin among other genetic blessings, but the other day she pointed to her chin (I'm still not sure of the exact location) and told me the story of how some "crater-sized" pore had finally been unblocked by her Dermalogica facialist. UM, OKAY. I had to tell her to stop talking, because we don't even speak the same language when it comes to skin problems. (Hello, rosacea?)

On the other hand, if you're bitching that everyone hates you because you're beautiful, except you're kinda sorta not really (or, in Ms. Brick's case, can we say just "moderately" attractive?), then yes, you WILL be labelled a narcissist. And nothing is more frustrating than dealing with a narcissist because literally any objection you raise to their world view has you automatically categorized as a jealous hater. It's infuriating.

So yeah... either way, this entire topic is a lose-lose proposition. Best to just suck it up, take your beauty as your cross to bear and simply focus on other things.

Oh, and don't go too far in the opposite direction either—while nobody likes smugness, there's no need to brush off compliments (no matter what you look like!). You know how it is: someone tells you you've got great eyelashes, and you tell them it's because you're using some old mascara you found in the $0.99 bin at Loblaws. It sort of ruins it a bit, no? And makes the compliment-giver feel weird, too. So OWN IT, GIRL. WERK IT. The next time someone praises the pretty, just say "thank you!" and smile.

Is there such thing as a "Pretty Penalty?"

backstage-models

It's easy to think that life is better for beautiful people. And it IS—in some areas. Scientists have actually studied this, and beautiful people are more likely to be happier, earn more money, get a bank loan with a lower interest rate and marry a good-looking and highly educated spouse. (Gosh, now I feel totally validated for helping people move a few notches up on the pretty scale via hair and makeup. Maybe I really AM saving lives? Just kidding.)

But funnily enough, The Economist had an interesting article just the other day on how physical attractiveness can work against you. The researchers wanted to find out what happened when job hunters included photos with their applications. If you were a hot man, you got more call-backs for interviews... but if you were a hot woman, it was the exact opposite. The conclusion was that, with human resources departments comprised of 93 percent females, "old-fashioned jealousy led the women to discriminate against pretty candidates."

Wow! Now THAT's ugly.

Another pretty person problem has to do with meeting members of the opposite sex. Now, like I said, I'm almost certain that the Daily Mail lady gets male attention because of the vibe she gives off; objectively speaking, she's not supermodel-gorgeous. But REAL supermodels? Well, they really do have challenges. My colourist has worked with a lot of models, including a very famous one whose name I'm SURE you'd recognize, and the last time I was in he told me she actually used to hit on him, saying that she couldn't meet a good man. Which is sort of crazy because he's probably twice her age and she should be batting men off like flies. But nobody asks her out! Men find her way too intimidating! So believe it or not, a lot of supermodels are also super-lonely. (Maybe Ms. Brick can give them some tips?)

Anyway, let's discuss:

What's your take on Samantha Brick—are her complaints legit or is she totally deluded?
Have you ever been jealous of someone's beauty, or on the flip side, experienced The Pretty Penalty yourself?
Do you think it's harder or easier to go through life being considered "beautiful"?