Let’s play a game: you’re seated on the couch watching SABC where a beautiful woman, with somewhat moderate hosting skills, holds it down on a certain lifestyle or music show. You switch to MTV Base, and find another stunner whom you’re almost certain has an uncanny resemblance to Miss Mild, except she’s undeniably exceptional at her job.
You log into Instagram, and the suggestion box is filled with a bevy of beauties – all with a varied skill set and career paths, but sharing two things in common: an impressive follower base and an aesthetic that is as eye-catching as it is suspiciously recurring.
The next time you watch YouTube, the same faces feature in at least 3 music videos and another beats thousands of hopefuls across the country to win the coveted title of Mzansi’s next best presenter – although that narrative proves to be false when she’s put on the spot at a non-scripted, live-broadcast awards ceremony.
Sound familiar? Perhaps you can relate, as you too were fed spoonfuls of praise, but later floundered because you have locks instead of a 30 inch, Swedish lace-front wig.
The Good, Bad, “Ugly”; and their Merit
Light skinned, cinched waist; long hair, don’t care. Fashionista, face beat; prerequisites just to get on air.
That, is the power of Pretty Girl Privilege (PGP). Having the upper hand in spaces where good genes and/or added enhancements play favorably in a society. And, industries wading knee-deep infatuated with Eurocentric and modern day Western beauty standards.
Commonly seen in the entertainment industry, PGP is the aesthetic advantage a woman has over her peers or contenders. Thus providing better working opportunities and higher chances of employment based off of looks and not merit. From video vixens, to the receptionist who somehow got bumped up to junior manager with no qualifications nor explanation whatsoever – PGP has, and continues, to play a huge role in shaping and even warping our perspective.
It gave birth to the slay queen era, has us fawning over the unrealistic and unattainable social media lives of local celebrities, and has even conceived counter-campaigns such as #teamdarkskin, #darkskinmagic and #melaninpopping.
Pretty Girl Privilege (PGP)
Pretty Girl Privilege is dangerous in that it sets a distorted precedent. Some of us do not fall within, or measure up to, the criteria set by modern day media. This unspoken but overt display of aesthetic nepotism leads impressionable young girls; to go above and beyond their financial capabilities to emulate their faves. We are forced to pander to industry gatekeepers by assimilating to these expectations. Which have been force-fed, swallowed and regurgitated into the black community for decades on end.
Take what you will from this article, whether you believe it holds some truth, or not. Your opinions are, of course, subjective. But, I will say this: there is a special kind of oppression which is equally as toxic as it is unfair.
I look forward to a society that will accept your talents, skills and intelligence over your pretty face. It begins with us though, think about what you deem as acceptable and attainable standards. This is why our sister are out here bleaching their skin. But, that’s a topic for another day. For now, just be open minded, marvel in your beauty as you are.