TikTok influencer insists beauty is a 'curse', 'pretty privilege' doesn't exist and good looks make life more difficult

Shye Lee
Being pretty is a "curse", the influencer said. Photo credit: @shye.lee / TikTok, Instagram

A woman has attempted to debunk the idea that people who are conventionally attractive typically are more successful due to 'pretty privilege', claiming her good looks have been a "curse" throughout her life. 

Shye Lee, a 29-year-old from Orlando, Florida, has gone viral on social media for a series of videos in which she outlines how being beautiful isn't all it's cracked up to be, claiming her attractiveness sees her regularly judged on her appearance, and makes it harder for her to maintain friendships and be taken seriously in the workplace. 

For the uninitiated, 'pretty privilege' stems from the idea that people who are deemed attractive based on societal beauty standards have an upper hand, are afforded opportunities that 'mere mortals' are not, or become more successful in life due to their beauty. At the time of writing, the hashtag '#PrettyPrivilege' has racked up more than 302.9 million views on TikTok, with many content creators sharing their own experiences with 'pretty privilege' in the workplace, relationships, and day-to-day life. 

But in a video shared to her almost 500,000 followers, Lee - a social media marketing and business coach - clapped back at the concept, branding pretty privilege "one of the dumbest things to ever exist". 

"Let's list the privileges - free drinks, probably free entry somewhere, maybe end up in a VIP section, maybe attract like a rich guy, like an athlete or rapper, but those are pretty much the privileges," she said.

She added that while many people might view the benefits of being conventionally attractive as 'perks', they can, in fact, prove dangerous - noting that having more eyes on you isn't necessarily a good thing.  

"Pretty women have a higher chance of getting kidnapped [or] dying. So if you're a little bit more attractive, you might get more eyeballs and increase your chances of getting kidnapped," she claimed. 

"Pretty girls are never taken seriously at their job or anything that has to do with being well educated, by default they think that they're not capable," she continued, referencing the harmful trope in popular culture that women who are conventionally beautiful are also vapid, shallow, vain or 'ditzy'.

"Business? Forget about it. One time I reached out to a doctor so I could help him with his social media and he literally wrote back, 'You should come in for an exam, winky face'," she claimed.

Lee then detailed how her good looks have impacted her friendships throughout her life, making it difficult to form genuine bonds with others. She added that being conventionally beautiful can often make other women insecure, bitter and jealous, causing her to become a target for tall poppy syndrome. But despite receiving more attention from others, Lee said the advances aren't usually wanted - and often make her feel unsafe.

"Guys staring and catcalling when you are literally just trying to go grocery shopping, and then they call you a b**** because you don't want to talk to them," she continued, noting that the treatment she has been subjected to by the opposite sex has caused her "trauma".

"So I don't know, I'm patiently waiting to understand - what is this privilege?"

In an interview with the New York Post, Lee elaborated on her stance, branding her attractiveness a "curse" that has been "more of a negative than a positive" throughout her life.

"People overall treat you much differently and they don't judge you for your actions, they judge you just from your appearance," she told the outlet. 

Despite some backlash for her perspective, many have agreed with Lee's attempts to debunk the 'pretty people have it better' narrative. One woman responded: "This right here! I've grown to lowkey fear the world because of it."

"It's harder to make close female friends, you're not even given a chance - or they're competitive with you," another agreed. 

"We call it the 'pretty girl tax'," a third said, with a fourth commenting: "Preach, being [a] pretty girl can be rough at times."

"No one believes us but the warfare is real, I am a very kind and thoughtful person and I don't compete. But many girls I make friends with will go the extra mile to drag me," another weighed in, with one woman adding: "There’s a lot of s**t against you when you have the 'pretty girl curse' - even your own family will be against you."