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“I got a free ice cream cone for being cute. Thanks universe.” and other comments that annoy me

April 20, 2012

This is a quote from one of my Facebook friends today. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think she’s absolutely adorable. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I see a beauty privilege that’s constantly taken as normal and never questioned. I’ve known people who get free food (like my quoted friend), free drinks, free gas, received help moving or carrying things, gotten to skip ahead in line at the store or for tickets, and more.

Like the friend in the comment, people fail to recognize that, no, it’s not the universe giving them a little gift, it’s people rewarding them for looking a certain way, which reinforces cultural beauty ideals and privileges, and on the opposite end, discrimination against those who don’t belong to the beautiful club.

Can you imagine a person saying “Someone paid for my gas just because I’m white! Thanks universe!”? I don’t freaking think so, but if they did they would get called out for their racism by non-racists, at least. Privilege is not something that’s earned. It’s an undeserved and unfair advantage over others because you hold some kind of favor with society.

Yes, we have to fight for fat rights and, hell yes, ugly rights, but even privileged, pretty people need to do their part by attempting to reject the special perks that they get.

No one is saying that they should get a lower quality of treatment — in that regard, we have to demand everyone receive a high level of treatment, but, for once, I’d like to see someone say, “Got offered a free gift for being beautiful, but I turned it down and told them to treat everyone equally.”

Think that’ll happen any time soon? Yeah, me neither. It seems ridiculously obvious that the only possible outcome of rewarding people for looking a certain way is creating a hostile environment for anyone who doesn’t.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. April 20, 2012 10:20 am

    Being one of the non-beautiful people, I’ve never had anything given to me for my looks. But my wife tells me about all the times she’s had people offer her things, like when she was an adolescent she would go up to a gas station near her house and the guy would let her have a free sucker if she would eat it in front of him, which takes this whole concept to a creepy new depth. She was just a kid, so she did it, but she didn’t understand why.

    It also reminds me of the Ben Folds song “Free Coffee,” and how now that he’s a huge celebrity he gets all kinds of free shit that he doesn’t need or deserve.

    I think it’s just human nature to use whatever assets we have to “impress” certain people. When it comes to looks, it’s such a subjective thing that I bet a pretty sizable segment of the female population have received some sort of gift (as men will leverage anything to improve their chances of attracting women). It’s also human nature to accept gifts, even if they aren’t earned.

    In other words, people are fucked up.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • vesta44 permalink
      April 20, 2012 11:58 am

      Shannon – Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and personally, I think you’re a rather good-looking man. By the same token, though, I’ve always thought I wasn’t all that much in the looks department either, but I’ve had my share of people who’ve thought otherwise – I don’t know what they’re seeing in me, looks-wise, but I’m not going to argue with them. It’s that eye of the beholder thing again.

  2. vesta44 permalink
    April 20, 2012 11:39 am

    I don’t have a problem with people who have good looks. What I have a problem with is when those people deliberately capitalize on those good looks and use them to the detriment of their family, friends, and co-workers to get ahead in life. Reading that article by Samantha Brick emphasized that to me – she’s crying about how other women hate her for her good looks, but she’s not above using those looks to get what she wants out of life. She says she’s glad she’s 41 and her looks will soon be fading, that maybe then people will accept her for who she is instead of what she looks like. But when she’s so used to capitalizing on her looks, how is she going to cope when she has to be accepted for who she actually is instead?
    I’ve known some conventionally beautiful-on-the-outside people who were really ugly, mainly because they were egotistical, selfish asshats. I’ve also known some people who others thought were butt-ugly but I thought they were handsome/beautiful because they were intelligent, thoughtful, compassionate, caring people. I’ve never been one to judge a book by its cover – when you do that, you miss out on meeting/knowing some really interesting people.

    • April 20, 2012 1:06 pm

      It reminds me of this famous quote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

  3. Duckie Graham permalink
    April 20, 2012 12:54 pm

    I must confess…In college, I had a pretty eye-batting friend. We went out one night and based on her looks and flirtation alone, we got 3 free drinks each at a bar, 2 free games of pool, both of our meals at a restaurant for free, free coffee and pie at another restaurant, and neither of us had to even touch a guy. She was amazing, like magical powers over men. I know it was obnoxious and wrong and I didn’t stay friends with her for very much longer after that…but I did benefit from her eye-batting skills that night and a few before that. It is definitely a curious phenomenon…but I think what hasn’t been said yet about it is how much it made me disrespect the men that were stupid enough to fall for it…and disrespect on that kind of a scale is a bad thing for us all…Guys (and gals who do it too!) need to know that when they give favors to a pretty girl, it doesn’t make them a kind gentleman provider, it makes them a gullible pushover to be taken advantage of by girls who don’t care about you and don’t know any better. Not good.

  4. LittleBigGirl permalink
    April 20, 2012 6:58 pm

    I love the timing of this blog post – I am reading “The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women” by Naomi Wolf. Really fascinating book…and really really depressing. Those of you who think it’s all a (capitalist) cultural conspiracy? Yeah it pretty much is. Society has put a lot of effort into a) making the “standard” definition of “beauty” completely unrealistic and f-d up and b) making sure no one ever really feels beautiful.

    Labels are terribly dangerous and hurtful burdens. Whether you’re labeling someone “beautiful” or “ugly,” you’re still labeling them.

  5. April 20, 2012 11:11 pm

    To be honest, do these people getting free items based on their looks, wonder why that is? I don’t mean the random person at the grocery store handing out samples. I mean people might be giving free stuff to you, because they expect something in return. I would think this may be more of a concern for women, because if it’s a guy that means the guy might be trying to get with them if you know what I mean.

    Truth is all women regardless of size, should be concerned if the guy who’s giving them free things, isn’t like Quagmire from Family Guy. I’m not saying to be paranoid and think everyone is out there to get you, there are genuinely nice people out there. They might have been having a buy one cone get another free sale at the ice cream shop, and they had nobody to give the second ice cream to. What I am saying is if it seems like an out of the blue situation, you may want to just kindly tell them no, thank you and walk away.

    • April 20, 2012 11:12 pm

      Meant to say is like Quagmire. No, don’t tell me I shouldn’t post when I’m drowsy, cause I know that. I just don’t care! Yes, I deserve a whipped cream pie in the face for that one.

  6. The Real Cie permalink
    May 1, 2012 8:06 pm

    I had a friend in high school who was completely oblivious to the fact that guys fell all over themselves for her. After having the millionth guy come up to me and ask if I could ask my friend Laurie if she’d go out with him, I finally snapped “ask her yourself!”
    This certainly did nothing to dispel the rumor that I was a mean-tempered Satan worshiping bitch who ate puppies at midnight and drank my neighbor’s blood whenever there was a full moon. ( I had a rather bad reputation when I was in high school. While I may have worn black underwear sometimes, I certainly never ate any puppies. I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination.)

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