'I Have Pretty Privilege, But There's a Dark Side'

When I was growing up in Vancouver, Canada, I never really thought about my looks. My appearance just wasn't something I deemed important or focused on. As a child, I was not generically beautiful, I went through an awkward phase where I had braces and my ears stuck out, but it wasn't something I paid much attention to or cared about.

As I got older, I started to wear make-up and focus more on my clothes and style. I noticed that I did get more attention, but it wasn't completely obvious to me why. I saw that people were talking to me and opening up more. I believe they were more receptive to me because of how I was presenting myself.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I first started being treated differently because of my looks, as the process was very gradual. But looking back, I can definitely remember changes happening around the age of sixteen, when I had my first job in the restaurant industry.

While working and interacting with men in particular, they would make certain comments or speak to me in a different way. It wasn't clear to me what was happening, because I was very young and naive, but in hindsight, I believe that was the first time my looks influenced how I was treated by other people.

actor Lexi Hill has pretty privilege
Lexi Hill, 26, is an actor and fashion stylist based in Vancouver, Canada. She experiences life with "pretty privilege." Lexi Hill

Experiencing "pretty privilege" for the first time

Around the age of twenty, I started working in the film industry. I'd had several jobs after high school and spent a few years figuring out what I wanted to do. Eventually, I began doing some background work on movie sets. When I started it was mainly for fun, but I have been pursuing a career in acting ever since.

Obviously when you work in the entertainment industry, how a person looks can be significant. Growing up the actors we see on screen are usually stereotypically beautiful and I believe the industry can be quite shallow.

When I first started out, I was lucky. I was upgraded quite a few times, which means my role on set was re-classified to a higher position. For example, I may be bumped up from a background performer to an actor.

Looking back now, I would say that my appearance contributed to that. In my experience, a production won't just upgrade you on the fly for your talent. It does tend to be based on looks.

I believe I have what is known as "pretty privilege." To me, that means that when another person initially meets you, they judge you solely on the way you look and that contributes to the way they treat you.

Lexi Hill Instagram photo pretty privilege
Lexi Hill started working in the film industry as a background actor when she was 20. Lexi Hill

How pretty privilege impacts my life

Pretty privilege has impacted me in various ways. For example, working in the film industry, I've had six or seven upgrades over the years and I believe my good looks have contributed to those.

Other examples are going to certain coffee shops and getting free items or just receiving excessive compliments and people being extra nice to me. When it comes to nightlife, I have noticed such a difference. Staff will let me into certain clubs or let me skip the line purely based on how I look, which personally I think is gross.

Honestly, I do find it quite disgusting that some people base value and worth simply on the way you look. I don't think anyone should be treated any differently simply because they are deemed more attractive than someone else.

Even if people aren't consciously judging someone based on their looks, being nicer or giving people more leeway because you find them more attractive than someone else, is wrong in my eyes.

The darker side of pretty privilege

Lexi Hill Instagram photo pretty privilege
Lexi believes "pretty privilege" is not always a positive thing. Lexi Hill

I believe most people tend to think "oh, good for you" when I talk about having pretty privilege on social media, but I don't necessarily always see it as a positive thing. People automatically think conventionally attractive people have an easier life, and honestly, sometimes that is true. But there is a negative side too.

In my opinion, some people assume that if you are stereotypically attractive then you've had an easy life, have never been through adversity, or dealt with any issues. But nobody's life is perfect and usually everyone is dealing with something.

I believe I have very much been stereotyped because of my looks. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and sometimes people will just look at me and make negative assumptions. Over the years I've been called a dumb blonde or had people who just give me an attitude off the bat for no reason.

Lexi Hill Instagram photo pretty privilege
Lexi Hill: "I believe I have very much been stereotyped because of my looks." Lexi Hill

While I can't say definitively whether that is because of how I look, I do think there are a lot of people who, if they are not happy in their own lives, project their fears and insecurities onto you. If someone feels threatened for whatever reason, they may treat you differently.

Growing up I had a twin brother. We are very close and would joke around a lot, so I don't think I'm that sensitive. I am very secure within myself and have a good sense of humor, so when people do make jokes about me being stupid, I don't always view it as an attack.

However, there have been a couple of times, especially at work, where I have laughed but gone home and thought: "That was actually really inappropriate." It does make you feel bad, no matter what your confidence level or how secure you are in yourself, rude or negative comments like that can affect you.

Raising awareness of pretty privilege

Lexi Hill
Lexi believes "pretty privilege" is a prevalent issue in society. Lexi Hill

I'm not afraid of saying that I am stereotypically beautiful. However, I find it very vain to look at someone and base their value solely on their appearance. There's so much more to a person.

I believe everyone in this world has qualities that make them beautiful. Individuality brings so much beauty to this world. But with that said, what people find stereotypically attractive in today's society means I have been treated differently and I can acknowledge that 100 percent.

Even though many people aren't aware of it, I feel pretty privilege is a really prevalent issue in society. Whether people realize it or not, subconsciously I believe most individuals base how they treat people on their appearance.

I want to remind people to treat everyone exactly the same, despite how they look. Be open and kind to everyone in this world.

Lexi Hill, 26, is an actor and fashion stylist based in Vancouver, Canada. You can follow her TikTok at @lexi.hill or Instagram at @lexiihill.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Newsweek associate editor Monica Greep.