The Curse of Beauty in Carol Ann Duffy’s “Beautiful” and Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts”


  • Mary Louisa Lum University of Douala


Beauty, Curse, Commodification, Feminism, Objectification.


The idea that women are only as valuable as their looks is a patriarchal notion that is still encouraged even in the twenty-first century though  humanity valorizes progress and forward thinking. This notion sets women back as scrutiny is on a shallow exterior while inner qualities are subverted. Feminist artists like Duffy and Beyoncé have chronicled the pain of beauty in their works and have often blamed fixation on women’s looks as an attempt to denigrate their contributions to society and write them out of history.  Duffy is renowned for her attempt to deconstruct patriarchy by voicing feminine issues that have hitherto been neglected.  Beyoncé equally sheds light on the obsession on a woman’s looks that inevitably leads to the erosion of self-esteem, rather than on her potential as a contributing member of society. The ideas of feminist theorists like the beauty myth conceptualized by Wolf (1990) along with concepts of commodification of beauty propagated by Irigaray (1985) and Haraway (1991) will be useful in exploring the traumatic outcomes of a global society’s addiction to superficial standards of feminine beauty. While Duffy focuses on the iconic beautiful women of history, highlighting how beauty turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing, Beyoncé uses the concept of beauty pageants in her attempt to expose the cruelty of feminine objectification. Beauty as an achievement is packaged by the chauvinist beauty industrial machinery as the sum total of a woman’s aspiration which leads to low self-esteem.



How to Cite

Lum, M. L. (2023). The Curse of Beauty in Carol Ann Duffy’s “Beautiful” and Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts”. JOURNAL OF ARTS AND HUMANITIES, 7(1), 109–128. Retrieved from