No Such Thing as Pretty Privilege: How Our Society Punishes Attractive Women


Author Erika Schickel exposes the denigrating ways we treat beautiful women

While many of us believe that beautiful women have the world by the tail, the truth is that pretty comes at a cost. Recent research shows that beautiful women are perceived to be less truthful, less deserving of career success, and less capable of being in charge. In other words, we enjoy looking at beautiful women, but we don’t believe them to be trustworthy, intelligent, or gifted leaders.   

Author Erika Schickel knows firsthand that although ‘pretty’ can open doors, it can also be a death-knell for a woman’s career goals. 

“We see this play out on a large-scale in Hollywood. We think that just because a woman is beautiful or attractive, that she must also be stupid or incapable,” says Schickel, whose work has appeared in Los Angeles TimesThe Los Angeles Review of Books, LA WeeklyBust Magazine, Salon, The Daily Beast, HuffPost, The Chicago Tribune and more. 

Schickel has created a list of 10 women who she says aren’t taken seriously because of our sexist judgments about attractive women, including these 5 celebrities: 

  • Cindy Crawford: “Crawford is known for being one of the supermodels who invented the idea of being a supermodel, but she’s not just a pretty face,” says  Schickel. “She was the valedictorian of her high school and earned an academic scholarship to study chemical engineering at Northwestern University. And since becoming a household name, she hasn’t just rested on her laurels but created a booming business (Meaningful Beauty) as well as devoted her time to philanthropy, raising millions of dollars in charity for RMHC and children with leukemia).”  
  • Beyonce“Beyonce is known for her curvy figure and her fierce dance moves, but she is an astute businesswoman in her own right,” says Schickel. “She has a streaming music service, a film production company,  fashion labels, and she is a spokeswoman for several brands like Pepsi and L’Oreal. She created her own athletic wear line only to be invited to join Adidas as a creative design partner. Her business acumen is unparalleled, but yet people only seem to see her as a pretty face.” 
  • Dolly Parton: “Parton’s body is legendary, and you only have to say her name for people to make lewd jokes about her breasts or her fashion sense. But she’s not the busty bimbo caricature people make her out to be,” says Schickel. She went from being ‘dirt-poor’ to creating an estate worth hundreds of millions through nothing but her own talent and hard work, all while tirelessly giving back through her charities, and by instilling a love in reading in less-fortunate children via Smart Start and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.” 
  • Angelina Jolie: “Jolie is known for her stunning appearance and her off-kilter lifestyle (like wearing her ex-husband’s Billy Bob Thornton’s blood around her neck), but she is also a global philanthropist who has won several humanitarian awards,” says Schickel. “She was also named a visiting professor at the London School of Economics to contribute to a postgraduate degree program at the university’s Centre on Women, Peace, and Security.” 
  • Megan Thee Stallion: “Megan Thee Stallion is known for her hit song ‘WAP’ and her sexy music videos, but if you pay attention, she also uses her platform to talk about the importance of education and her college courses,” says Schickel. “She is getting her degree in health administration and has a dream of creating her own assisted living facilities in the future, as she was inspired by watching her aunt care for her family members when they were elderly and ill.” 

Other women on Schickel’s list include: Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Eva Longoria, Kate Beckinsdale, and Paris Hilton. 

In her new memoir “The Big Hurt” (Hachette Books, 2021), Erika Schickel reveals how being pretty in high school, led her to be preyed upon by a much older teacher, and later led her to be publicly scorned and derided for the affair. 

“I think the fact that I was a young attractive teen made me an easy mark, both for my teacher and later for the court of public opinion. Because I was pretty and desirable to him, it was my fault. It wasn’t his fault for being an adult preying on a young girl,” says Schickel, “It was my fault for daring to exist as a pretty girl in the first place.”