​Meaning of “pretty isn’t pretty” by Olivia Rodrigo

On “pretty isn’t pretty”, Olivia Rodrigo finds herself entrenched in a constant battle with self-confidence because she habitually compares herself to others. Every time she scrolls through her social media feeds, she can’t help but notice the seemingly perfect lives of her peers, filled with flattering photos and accomplishments that seem to dwarf her own. The continuous comparison cycle has led her into a trap of focusing more on others’ perceptions than understanding and embracing her own true self.

Lyrics of “pretty isn’t pretty”

The lyrics find Olivia expressing deep frustration and sadness about the never-ending pressure to conform to society’s beauty standards. Throughout the verses, we hear about the many ways they’ve tried to fit into the ideal of what is considered “pretty”, including using makeup, altering their eating habits, and even taking prescription medication to manage their stress and anxiety.

The presence of these strict standards is overwhelming, omnipresent in media and influencing personal relationships, causing a continuous cycle of self-doubt and dissatisfaction. The constant endeavor to meet these external expectations has led them into a spiral of low self-esteem and unhappiness. This highlights the harsh reality that the pursuit of physical attractiveness as defined by society is a never-winning battle.

“When pretty isn’t pretty enough
What do you do?
And everybody’s keepin’ it up
So you think it’s you
I could change up my body, and change up my face
I could try every lipstick in every shade
But I’d always feel the same
‘Cause pretty isn’t pretty enough anyway”

The chorus and bridge emphasize the disillusionment and exhaustion stemming from the relentless chase of an ever-elusive standard of beauty. Despite trying every possible way to enhance their appearance, there is a resonating feeling of inadequacy, articulating that “pretty isn’t pretty enough”.

The lyrics speak to the idea that no matter the changes one makes, the goal post keeps moving. And this creates an unending cycle of discontentment. The realization dawns that chasing societal standards of beauty is a futile effort. Owing to this, there is a relentless cycle of feeling unhappy and unsatisfied with oneself. This indicates the societal norms for creating an environment where individuals are set up to feel perpetually “not enough.”

When was “pretty isn’t pretty” released?

“pretty isn’t pretty” appears on Olivia’s second album, “Guts”. It was released with the album on 8th September, 2023.

Who wrote this track?

Three writers were credited with the writing of this song. They are:

  • Olivia Rodrigo
  • Dan Nigro
  • Amy Allen

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