real life

'How going through life as a really beautiful woman has scarred me.'

Writer Alexia Tsoulis-Reay has published a piece in The Cut called “What It’s Like to Go Through Life as a Really Beautiful Woman“, telling the story of an anonymous woman in her 50s whose life was affected by being conventionally beautiful.

It’s the most relatable thing that’s ever been written – said no one ever. But nevertheless, the woman has faced some challenges, even if they are somewhat caused by her own perspective.

In the article the woman, who began modelling in high school and had a lengthy career in media, acknowledges the advantages of her looks.

For example, she says, “I never interviewed for a job I didn’t get.” The woman admits that despite her education, she knows that her attractiveness gave her an advantage over other candidates.

And yet, despite her public success, despite the ‘pretty privilege’ that meant she’s always had doors opened for her, she still speaks of a number of very personal ways her beauty has seen her discriminated against.

The first is the effect on her relationships with women.

“One of the worst things about being beautiful is that other women absolutely despise you. Women have made me cry my whole life.”

Her beauty, she claims, has made it impossible for her to form female friendships, because other females are suspicious of her.

“Women don’t trust me. They don’t want me around their husbands. I’m often excluded from parties, with no explanation.”

The former model says that her main experience with women is that “competitive, attractive, wealthy, entitled women really hated” her, and regularly conspired against her to plot her downfall.

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Her challenging relationships with women led her to have close relationships with men, which would inevitably be sexually-based. The consequence was a crisis of identity, where she was forced to ask herself, “Women dump on me. Men just want to have sex with me. Who am I?

The woman also muses, “What did my looks do for me?”

At that point of the article, it’s difficult not to answer that rhetorical question with, “what you needed them to do for you at the time.”


She says that because she never had to pursue a man, she couldn’t leave her husband, because she wasn’t confident enough to find another partner; ignoring the concept of being sufficient on her own.

The woman’s final issue is that now that she’s older – in her 50s – she’s invisible to everyone younger than her, and to the world that put her on a pedestal.

“I could walk across the street naked – it’s that bad.”

Because most of us can’t relate to the same identity struggle, the post was widely considered on social media as a fairly privileged perspective.

But empathise with her or not, it can’t be denied that ‘pretty privilege’ exists. The woman herself knows this – she’s built a career and a life around it. She’s depended on it.

Of course, we don’t know her whole story, but it does sound as though living in a world where aesthetics are prioritised and monetised has meant that when the standard of beauty that she’s accustomed to applying to herself has eroded, she’s left with nothing but loneliness and a bitter taste in her mouth.

And that’s thankfully a ‘privilege’ that many of us who are valued in more substantial ways, won’t have to worry about.

Feature image: Getty