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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » how to deal with dating/beauty privilege

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Author Topic: how to deal with dating/beauty privilege
Magpie7
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My roommate has a lot of trouble getting dates. What makes it even worse is that it's pretty easy for me to find a guy to go out with. I chalk that up to my being more stereotypically good-looking than she is, because we have almost the exact same personality traits and attitudes. We both find this really upsetting. She's not mad at me for getting all of the dates, she just wishes that she could get some too. And I wish the same thing! She's an amazing person. I sometimes feel guilty when I bring someone home and she's there to see it, because it's can be a painful reminder that she couldn't get a date that night.

I was reading about male privilege today, and I realized that I might have some kind of dating privilege, or maybe beauty privilege. The entire concept really upsets me, just because of the unfairness. And also, I don't really know what to do about it, or if there's even anything I can do.

My roommate and I have talked about how crappy it is that looks matter so much, but I feel kind of guilty because I don't have the short end of the stick there. I hate the way things are, even though they work to my advantage.

I guess my question is, is there something constructive I can do with my dating privilege? Also, is there something specific that I might be able to do to make my roommate feel better? We vent sometimes about the crappy status quo (which makes us both feel better), we've discussed whether we need to work out a system of some sort for when I bring guys home (she's fine with the unstructured thing we're doing now), and I've helped her with her online dating profiles and gone with her to singles mixers. Can I help in another way that I haven't thought of?

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Heather
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I think this is a really interesting thing to bring up, and am always impressed with people stepping up to examine their privilege.

I don't know that I'd call this "dating" privilege. What you may want to do to find something more apt (I think) is look at what does give you this privilege: is it about your color or ethnicity? Your size? Being able-bodied?

For sure, lookism blows chunks, no matter what side of it we're on, and even when we're seemingly getting benefits from it, which often turn out to be short ends of the stick, too. If someone is choosing to date you just because of how you look, after all, or because you meet their beauty ideal, that's a pretty raw deal for you, too, don't you think? Might be worth recognizing that often beauty ideals are very much linked to age, so someone benefitting from them won't tend to benefit from them forever. At some point, you're likely not to meet those ideals, even just by virtue of not being young anymore.

In terms of how you can support your roomie, you know, it really sounds like you're already doing that very well and with a lot of care.

I would just maybe make sure you're not overcompensating for feeling guilty here, do you know what I mean? Putting a ton of effort into helping her get dates could in some ways be more about what you need than what she does.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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