Does beauty really benefit you in life?

On the day Gabrielle Christine got into the car to take her driver’s license, the examiner immediately complimented this young American nursing student on her looks. During the test, the man asked her to park in a parking lot. She missed the maneuver. He offered her another chance to succeed. Then, she committed the capital sin during this examination: she ran a red light. Faced with this disqualifying foul, he said to him: “Oops, I hadn’t seen that.” In a since-deleted TikTok video (found on Youtubeat 2:27 a.m.), the young woman tells how the fact that the examiner finds her attractive allows her to win her prize.

Could beauty provide access higher up the social ladder? Although the idea is not new, awareness seems to be growing. After white privilege and nepo babies (the privilege of being someone’s son or daughter), a new topic of debate – straight from the United States – is now emerging in the form of a hashtag. On TikTok, #PrettyPrivilege already has 364 million views.

Although beauty is relative and varies over time, having such attributes is undeniably life changing. On TikTok, @sunnythecaker talks about her #Prettyprivilege. When she was younger, she felt completely invisible, like her looks weren’t worth talking to. As she grew older and her features became more refined, her peers began to take an interest in her and the benefits began to flow. During a job interview, a recruiter complimented her on her appearance: “Your smile is beautiful. Come tomorrow. Let’s go to work!”

Moreover, while reintegration is difficult for ex-convicts, the mugshot of Jeremy Meeks – posted on the internet by the American police in 2014 – earned him glowing comments and immediate recognition. Many would have liked to have been kidnapped by this charismatic, blue-eyed, mixed-race former gang member incarcerated for possession of firearms. Once free, he became a model and enjoyed professional success.

According to a 2009 Harvard study, these types of discrimination even hit babies. Those who are considered ugly receive less love and affection from their mother. Somewhat later, at school, it is teachers who develop a bias in grading students based on their appearance, as pointed out by a study from the School of Psychology and Neuroscience at St Andrews. Another study, published in 2022 by Lund University in Sweden, confirmed this indulgence for comely traits. During the pandemic, due to video lessons where the faces of the students only appeared at random, lowering of grades for students deemed attractive. “The questions around (…) inequalities are less and less tolerated”, notes Hélène Garner, director of the Labor, Employment and Skills department at France Strategy and specialist in discrimination. Individuals now want to be recognized for who they are and not for what they feel they have been attributed (their background, their physique or their strengths).

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