We’re not ready for TikToker Caroline Lusk, or women in general, to call themselves pretty

By Fleurine Tideman

Published May 17, 2024 at 11:21 AM

Reading time: 3 minutes

It’s 2024, and we’re finally ready to acknowledge the beauty in everyone. That beauty looks different and can come with stretch marks, freckles, tummy rolls, big booty, lil booty, and whatever other combination you’re cooking up. We truly think every woman is beautiful—as long as she doesn’t think so herself. We can call you beautiful, but Selena Gomez will be the baby Bieber’s godmother before we let you call yourself beautiful.

That is the paradox of beauty, and it lives on in this body-positive moment, as demonstrated by the recent backlash surrounding Caroline Lusk.

Lusk is a 21-year-old TikTok influencer who gained over 10 million views on her latest video. The clip is just over a minute long and captioned “pretty people get hurt too :(”

“If you’re ever having a hard day, just remember I’ve been cheated on. I’ve been cheated on!” Lusk begins before taking a step away from the camera. “I don’t have the beauty filter on, and these are my real eyes, and I’ve been cheated on. If you’ve been cheated on, and you feel insecure, it’s never about you because I’ve been cheated on.”

@carolinelusk

pretty people get hurt too :( #fyp #foryou #foryoupage

♬ original sound - clusk

The blue-eyed blonde isn’t even wearing a trendy or tight outfit, just an oversized white bathrobe. And you know what? She’s right. She is gorgeous. She is conventionally beautiful in every way. I have no doubt that she is consistently approached on nights out and has a wide range of people sliding into her DMs.

Viewers were quick to assume that this reflected badly on her personality, but Lusk was one step ahead of them and even referred to her personality in the video. “You might be thinking, ‘Well maybe her personality sucks?’ No, unfortunately not. I’m hilarious and incredibly smart, and I got cheated on,” she told viewers.

As you can imagine, people did not appreciate her candid take on her very evident desirability.

We get it, you’re beautiful

Look, I’m not holier than thou. The first time I watched this TikTok, I felt pissed off and uncomfortable. I was double-screening, watching Vanderpump Rules on my computer while simultaneously scrolling through my FYP, and shovelling chocolate-dipped honeycomb bites into my mouth (life-changing, try it).

Then, suddenly, I was captivated by this Rory Gilmore-sounding girl who was acknowledging how beautiful she was. At the same time, out of the corner of my eye, I could see my pimple patch-laden reflection and unwashed hair in the mirror. It felt like she had broken an unspoken rule. The one that makes us reject compliments and downplay the effort we put into cultivating our appearance. The ‘No, I totally just woke up from a nap’ rule that is premised on the unspoken truth that a woman should never acknowledge her own beauty. So how dare she call herself beautiful? Obviously, she is, but does she have to rub it in?

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by caroline lusk (@cluskk)

That’s how it felt, as if Lusk was shoving her beauty in our faces. Like she was pitying the rest of us and acknowledging the different ends of the attractiveness scale we inhabited. I might get some swipes on Bumble, and my besties will jump on anything I post on Instagram to say “gorgeous!!!!” but I am no Lusk. Not many of us are. So naturally, when confronted by someone higher up the food chain who dares to say it, I felt offended by her, like she was boasting.

I wasn’t the only one. People very quickly felt she was “cocky” and pointed out that “humble” wasn’t among her traits. Others suggested that the man mentioned deserved better than someone who thinks so highly of themselves.

We’re the problem, not Caroline Lusk

But I couldn’t get the video out of my head, so I went back and rewatched it. This time, I didn’t feel angry, I felt jealous. I wasn’t jealous of her massive baby blues or plump lips (okay, maybe a bit), but I was rather envious of her confidence. My self-value is a daily rollercoaster ride, where one case of post-pizza bloating is enough to send me into a spiral of doubt. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder since the age of 15 and always felt absurdly grateful to anyone who could deem me attractive. And here is a woman six years younger than me, proudly acknowledging her beauty and assets. I didn’t want her to stop thinking this, I wanted to join her.

Another user had a similar journey and commented: “I was so mad at your confidence for like two seconds, and then I was like, actually, no, you have every right, and I love that.”

“Being humble is overrated bro… She knows she’s got it!” another praised while a third commented, “I love this amount of self-esteem; this should be the average for everyone.”

This is a woman who has clearly been told her whole life that she’s beautiful, because, objectively she is. As a little girl, strangers probably stopped her parents on the street to compliment her. That doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful because you don’t look like her, but merely that she is the kind of face that graces magazines. So what is wrong with her repeating what’s been told to her? Why do we struggle more with her acknowledging her looks but not when she calls herself hilarious or intelligent?

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