The track and its music video were previously released on the 2013 album Beyoncé, and the 32-year-old singer has slowly made the videos available to the general public. The online debut of "Pretty Hurts" coincides with the star's appearance on the 2014 Time 100 cover.
Beyoncé sings in the song about the damaging effects U.S. cultural fixation on beauty and perfection can have. She has started the hashtag #WhatIsPretty, and asks her fans to submit photos and videos to Instagram that illustrate their definition of the word. The singer hopes the song and its video will foster dialogue about healthy body image and standards of beauty.