The first time I truly understood pretty privilege, it wasn’t because of anything that happened to me. No, it was a story my boyfriend told me, about he’d once sidled up to a bar and told the girl serving drinks that he – a broke but hot student – didn’t have any money, but could he please have a beer anyway? She gave him one on the house. For me, this story confirmed what most people suspect: that the good-looking can get away with a whole lot.
This, of course, is what “pretty privilege” is – the idea that life is easier for the attractive. Often, this concept seems to latch onto women, with the word “pretty” doing some heavy lifting. But my boyfriend’s story made me think about how life must be even easier for attractive men. I know hot girls can get free drinks, but if a sexy lady openly asks for one, chances are she’ll be read as brazen – shameless, even. If a hot guy does it, it’s charming. In the manner of Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn’t help but wonder just how much good-looking guys can get away with?
Well, now I’ve been vindicated, because a new University of Oslo study has shown that attractiveness actually has a bigger impact on men’s socioeconomic fortunes than women. “There is a popular notion that physically attractive individuals have an advantage over others,” study author Alexi Gugushvili told PsyPost. “Yet, we couldn’t find many studies which would show if attractiveness really helps to improve individuals’ socioeconomic position.”
His research team crunched the numbers, and found that men who were rated as attractive or very attractive during their adolescent years were more likely to experience upward social mobility, be better educated, have more prestigious jobs, and earn higher incomes. “The most surprising finding of the study was that physical attractiveness appears to matter more for males than females,” Gugushvili said.
But why trust rigorous research when you can simply go and find very attractive men to interrogate? (Tough job, but someone’s got to do it.) So, without further ado, here are five hot dudes talking about what it’s like to be a hot dude. You’re welcome.
VICE: So you’re very attractive. When did you realise you were good-looking?
Kofi: That’s a funny question. I would say I’ve learned now to embrace what I look like and with that my confidence has grown. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I’m very comfortable with how I look and try my best to embrace it.
How did you feel about your looks when you were younger?
I wasn’t the most confident in my looks. I had really bad acne, even into my early adult years, so I had to kind of embrace the ugly duckling vibe. That definitely helped me accept who I am on the inside and develop my personality.
What do you think about the idea of “pretty privilege”?
It’s definitely a thing in society, whether we want to accept it or not. I’ve got no problem with it, never have – I have an issue when there’s no personality behind it.
My looks have definitely helped in one of my careers – to say they haven’t helped me as a model would be silly! In my other career, professional basketball, it won’t help you. Skills and producing is all that matters there.
Have you been given things for free or got special offers on things because you’re good looking?
For sure, a lot of brands like to gift models and influencers things. I’m not totally sure if it’s solely because of how I look but it might play a part in it. I think brands like that I have more to offer than just looks and that’s why they rock with me.
Is it easy to get dates?
I would like to think my personality was the selling point in this department. People want to date people who are their type, don’t they? I’m thankful I’m my type’s type.
Have your looks benefited you in other ways?
It’s hard to say compared to everybody else, but people are a lot more friendly, they simply say hello or just talk to me. Like, strangers. People aren’t as standoff-ish, so that’s cool. Nothing wrong with saying hi to somebody or “have a good day”.
VICE: Scott, you’re hot. But how did you feel about your looks when you were younger?
Scott: As a young boy with glasses who was bullied quite badly, looks were not something positive in my life. It was very apparent when I switched to contact lenses at the age of 13 or 14 that I was perceived very differently and even more so, when I went out to work and my job gave me more confidence. That’s when everything changed. The truth is that the more my confidence grew, the more handsome I became, which shows you it’s not simply down to only physical looks.
So would you say you’re pretty confident now?
Yes, I would say I ooze confidence now and I love life.
Do you think life is easier when you’re good looking?
I guess that’s down to how you perceive “easier”. Like everything, it comes with its pitfalls – for instance, jealousy and resentment from others who are not happy with themselves. Most of the time, it’s a great asset especially if you are in the public eye, because attractiveness can influence certain social interactions. However, it’s important to recognise that personal development, happiness and abundance are truly created by so much beyond physical appearance. Most beauty I feel comes from how we see ourselves, what we truly think of who we are.
Have your looks have helped you in your career?
My looks have definitely helped in my current career as a celebrity personal trainer and founder of Six Pack Revolution [a fitness programme]. Hopefully my own transformation inspires other people to want to change their lives and bodies too. At 50 years old, I still have a six pack and I want people to know that getting fit and looking great is possible at any age.
Are you scared of the thought of “losing your looks” as you age?
Yes, a little. Since turning 50, I’ve had to accept more wrinkles, more grey hair, but I think it’s really important to constantly work on yourself. If you can help your looks on the way, as long as it’s not dangerous, then go for it. Even men – colour your hair subtly, get those teeth done, use good skin care products and anything else that makes you feel happier within yourself. Always remember growing old is a privilege!
Do you think attractive people are happier in general?
If you hate what you see looking back at you from the mirror, that’s depression. If you love what you see staring back at you, that’s going to lift your heart and fill you with happiness. As George Benson and Whitney Houston sang, the greatest love of all is to love yourself.
VICE: So… When did you realise you were handsome?
Li: So I didn’t “realise” I was handsome, but I do believe I am handsome, because every time I see myself I love how I look. Self-love is important to me – but I don’t think handsome is a word you can use all the time, because I could be ugly for someone or extremely beautiful to someone else.
How did you feel about your looks when you were a kid?
I grew up in Spain and at that time people with afros and good looks – it was not something you could see every day, so people would talk a lot about my looks when I was young. In a good and bad way. But I have always loved my look and myself.
Do you think life is easier when you’re good looking?
It’s true that being a good-looking man in society’s eyes can benefit you in a lot of ways. Life is not easier because life is what it is, ups and downs no matter who you are or how you look. But I do think that you can get more jobs, or more financially.
VICE: When did you realise you were blessed in the looks department?
Graham: I first realised around the age of 15 or 16 years old. I finally started getting some attention from girls and I was scouted for a model competition, which won me a contract. Before that I never felt handsome, in all honesty. My friends always had more luck getting girlfriends than I did – usually I was just awkwardly third-wheeling!
Now I am a confident person. It’s not because of the way I look that brings me confidence anymore, it’s now because I know if you treat other people with respect, kindness, and listen to them, they usually always show it back.
What do you think about pretty privilege?
Pretty privilege exists, 100 percent. I think there are more doors open to you in life. I’ve had a good job as a model straight out of leaving school without the need to go to college or university. Some social circles can be much easier to access, especially if you want to hang with an influencer and celebrity crowd. I do recognise these opportunities can come around from only being good-looking and without actually doing or achieving anything.
Do you think good-looking people are happier in general?
There are so many attractive people who are extremely insecure about their appearance – I used to be one. Some define themselves by the way they look, rather than what’s inside, which can cause lots of problems in your life. But on the other side, there are plenty of people who are very good-looking, and very much enjoy being so and probably breeze through life.
Are there any downsides to being so hot?
There are definitely downsides. One is when you have really spotty days, or you’re just looking groggy in general it can affect you a lot worse than other people – especially if you have a photoshoot and your value is based around being attractive.
Another is jealousy. I’ve experienced this a few times when people say nasty things to you for no reason, or they get extremely uncomfortable because I’m having a conversation with their girlfriend, even if I’ve known the girl for a long time or even before they were together – but that’s on them.
I have had a few times where people seem intimidated, but often I can be even more intimidated. But once we get into conversation, the feelings are usually quickly gone.
It must help your love life though, right?
I’ve had a girlfriend for a long, long time – although I’m sure she messaged me because of my job! From time to time when I go to a nightclub I can tell from the attention I get that if I wanted a date, I could definitely still get one – I’ve not lost it just yet! And that must be because of my looks because it’s surely not my dancing doing it!
VICE: When did you realise you were handsome? Were you a cute kid?
Yvonne: I was definitely cute. I went to secondary school in Kent where the majority of people were white and I wasn’t actually considered handsome by most people I knew. My looks weren’t really what was hot at the time – when I was at home, I spent most of my time reading… Maybe when I was 19 or 20 and started growing into my body, I started getting more compliments. I also think the older I got the more important my height became. and standing at 6’2” is generally attractive.
Do you think life is easier when you’re good-looking?
It depends on what you want from life… I don’t know what life is really like in the minutiae for anyone other than myself. Have I escaped fines because I’m good-looking? Maybe. But I’ve also escaped fines because I studied medicine and I think that being a doctor makes me more attractive to a lot of people.
Have your looks have helped you in your career?
Not in medicine. That was exclusively based on how hard you worked and how much you retained. I also had to deal with a lot of racism and ableism. Being good-looking clearly didn’t make them forget I was Black.
It definitely plays a part in the way my live performances are received. When it comes to filmmaking and writing for TV, people don’t care what I look like as long as my work is good. As a musician, it probably plays a part in the way my music videos are received.
I think a lot of people believe in me because I work really hard and I try to always make the best art I possibly can, but I also think that people believe in me because I’m good-looking. It would be silly not to think that in a world where we have been told and shown that actors and musicians do amazingly when they fit into what has been decided as attractive by the media.
Have you been given things for free, or got special offers on things because you’re good looking?
No. Never. Which, frankly, I’m very upset about.
Are you scared of the thought of “losing your looks”, or ageing?
No, I’m looking forward to getting grey hairs and becoming a refined older man, like Denzel Washington and George Clooney!