Unpretty: I live the life I want to live – even if I didn’t win the beauty lottery
When I was seven years old, I would put my school book bag on both my shoulders and had it sit plumb in the middle of my back, as backpacks were made to do.
One morning, when it was so frigid outside you could barely muster getting bed, my older brother joined me at the bus stop, and told me I was wearing my backpack wrong. He grabbed it, tossed it over my right shoulder with both straps on the same side and said, “There, that’s better.”
My brother was the quintessential all-American baseball star. He was the guy the girls wanted to date. When he was 12, he was already dating a 15-year-old girl. Everyone loved him, and he somehow pulled it all off while growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. most movies and novels that focus on the underdog, we lived in the bad part of town.
Our tracks were less defined than the ones you see in John Hughes’ films or SE Hinton narratives of the midwest, but they were there. They circled through from gas station to corner store and when you went past a certain section of town, you were indubitably on the wrong side.
This didn’t affect my brother in the slightest. He was tan, strong, and had this ease about him you seem to find only among the rich and pretty. I smiled when he placed my backpack on my right shoulder because making my brother proud was one of the few joys I had in childhood.
Then he said, “You’re not pretty, so you have to try harder. OK?”
I stayed smiling because even at a young age, I understood the importance of pretending to not have emotions. In my household, it was a matter of survival. But what he said crushed me.
Soon thereafter, I started picking up on the signs one receives when they aren’t attractive. This was made more complicated because I had a lot of friends and people who, for the most part, d me. I was good at sports.
I had various musical talents and up until life completely fell apart at home, I was a good student.
I was also a fighter so people didn’t dare make fun of me overtly, at least before growth spurts kicked in and the playing field was still even.
No, I didn’t have guys pretend to be my boyfriend only to dump me at the end of the day, just to be mean. And my lessons were more subtle than the girls chanting about the fat guy on the school bus, “OMG he’s your boyfriend!” (People can be such assholes).
Mostly, I paid for not being conventionally attractive by being ignored or not included in “moments” – the many moments attractive people experience.
I went on double dates only to have the guy completely disinterested in making out with me at the end of the night (which wasn’t a problem for my pretty friends) or seeing the look of sheer disappointment on his face when I arrived. My dates would never be on the receiving end of, “Wow, way to go! Good for you!”.
Many times, I walked into a room with all of my friends and witnessed them receiving compliments – everyone except me. It’s not that people look at you say, “My god, you’re incredibly ugly.
Tell me, how do you not kill yourself?” It’s how you can stand next to an attractive person and the people around you, even the unattractive ones themselves, will say, “Wow, your friend is pretty.
Look at her, have you ever seen a girl so pretty?”
It took me being observant and honest to see I didn’t belong. It took studying the aesthetics in photos taken by my friends and knowing something wasn’t quite right. It’s a lack of pride you know would be there if you were just prettier, or sexier. It’s that you simply know that no matter what you do, sans literal plastic surgery, you will never belong to a certain club.
I’m not alone in it. In fact, a lot of you will have an idea of what I am talking about – but it never makes us feel less alone.
But here is where I throw you a curve ball: my being unattractive hasn’t stopped me from living the other side’s life. Most people never figure out how to navigate this world I live in. I will just tell you I rejected the rules of the beautiful, and learned how to make them work for me.
I decided I would shoot my league. I made friends and dated people I shouldn’t be allowed to date. I stepped over the line. I surrounded myself with individuals who are more educated, prettier or smarter than me, even in the face of people saying, quite literally, “they are your league.”
I may not technically be the smartest or most beautiful person, but I run with those who are. I become by association, even a touch of such, even at a lower rank – beautiful. I buck the system.
I relay my story to encourage you to jump fearlessly toward the elephant in the room if you find yourself lacking in genetic abundance. Don’t hide behind being deep as a way of saying, “I don’t care.” It’s the people I see who pretend they are above such pettiness, who shun a multidimensional life, that often wear bitterness on their sleeve.
Rather than silently sneering at those who seem to have a piece of this ridiculous puzzle figured out, embrace it. Say proudly, with your presence, even if quietly, that you have something to bring to the table.
To do so, yes, means you may be painfully aware of what you are and will never be. You will be defined by what you have the nerve to aim at being.
In doing so, you will challenge and question what smart is. You will not be generic, or predictable. Attractive is only what we define it to be. Don’t pigeonhole yourself so quickly.
Live the life you want to live – even if you didn’t win the genetic lottery.
“,”author”:”Leigh Peele”,”date_published”:”2016-09-03T10:00:28.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/cec48f4fd6497a157959a37fdf5e7db1aa48f302/0_0_3000_1800/3000.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=85&auto=format&fit=crop&overlay-align=bottom%2Cleft&overlay-width=100p&overlay-base64=L2ltZy9zdGF0aWMvb3ZlcmxheXMvdGctZGVmYXVsdC5wbmc&enable=upscale&s=38ae70242e34f8eb7bea050438279a62″,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/sep/03/unpretty-rules-of-beauty-attractive-relationships”,”domain”:”www.theguardian.com”,”excerpt”:”Leigh Peele says being told she was ugly from an early age didnât stop her from breaking the rules: âYouâll be defined by what you have the nerve to aim at beingâ”,”word_count”:1036,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}
Can Ugly People Ever Find True Love?
The media and fairy tales equate beauty with goodness, life, truth and every good trait. The plain girls don't find love until dressed up and dolled up, the boys don't find love until converted from beast to prince. What about the real world? Can ugly people find true love?
We all have our flaws. | Source
This article is in response to someone asking, “Do ugly people ever find true love?”
Here is the reason I think they can – and will do so in ever greater numbers.
In an increasingly connected world, assortive mating is taking place.
While a man with a MENSA qualifying IQ previously married a school teacher or secretary of average to above average IQ, he can now find someone in an expanded geographic area or social group to date and eventually marry.
The high IQ population is increasingly finding others of the same IQ level to socialize with and eventually love, marry and form families with.
This trend can be approximated by the trend toward those of the same income level and education level marrying.
Whereas a hundred years ago a man with a college degree (one of the top 10%) would marry a high school graduate, now he will overwhelmingly marry a woman with a college degree.
Doctorate might lower expectations and marry a bachelor’s degree holder, but they rarely marry mere high school graduates – and almost never a high school drop out.
Assortative mating is also occurring relative to appearance or beauty. It was not uncommon for the head of the football team to date the head of the cheerleading squad or the two heads of academic clubs to date.
The most beautiful did not always date each other, but they tended to do so. Yet the most beautiful girl might go for the richest man’s son or best athlete instead, regardless of his attractiveness, in order to remain high in the social structure.
Now she can search for dates on social networks and find someone is ranks high in both social structure and appearance. There is an instinctive preference for the attractive. Yet the wide selection of potential partners is driving us to find our closest matches.
We are marrying those more ourselves in terms of education and intelligence, political views, personal interests – and looks.
When dating websites first appeared, they put the pictures of beautiful people up first.
New websites were created that were for “beautiful people only”, accelerating the sorting trend of beauty to beauty bonding.
Now dating websites are shifting to attractive but approachable people on the websites, so that everyone else feels they have a chance at finding love. What does this trend mean for the less attractive?
Love and companionship are human cravings, regardless of appearance. Where there is demand, there will be a supply. For those who are less attractive, instead of merely hooking up with the remaining person in a bar or yearning for the one person you in a community, there are websites for those who are aesthetically challenged.
For example, the UK has both theuglybugball.com and uglydatingsite.com. Those who cannot find someone who will accept them as they are within their own social circle can now reach out through online dating websites can find someone special, too.
Another segment of society receives a customized solution, in this case, assortative mating for the less attractive.
The less attractive have always had the potential to find love. With a broad world wide web and new websites that cater to them, they will increasingly find it, too.
Surprising Statistics About Hot People Versus Ugly People
It's better to be ugly than cute, statistics show.
lone photowolf on flickr This post investigates female attractiveness, but without the usual photo analysis stuff. Instead, we look past a woman's picture, into the reaction she creates in the reptile mind of the human male.
Among the remarkable things we'll show:
- The more men as a group that disagree about a woman's looks, the more they end up liking her
- Guys tend to ignore girls who are merely cute
- Having some men think a girl is ugly can actually work in a woman's favor.
Fair warning: we're about to objectify women, big-time. The whole purpose of this blog is to analyze OkCupid's data, and without a little bit of objectification that's impossible. Men will get their turn under the microscope soon enough. As usual, none of this (with the exception of the celebrity examples) is my opinion. All data is collected from actual user activity.
Let's start at the beginning.
Here are the shocking results >>
Note: this study was originally posted on OkCupid's OkTrends and has been republished here with permission.
All people, but especially guys, spend a disproportionate amount of energy searching for, browsing, and messaging our hottest users.
As I've noted before, a hot woman receives roughly 4× the messages an average-looking woman gets, and 25× as many as an ugly one.
Getting swamped with messages drives users, especially women, away. So we have to analyze and redirect this tendency, lest OkCupid become sausageparty.com.
Every so often we run diagnostic plots the one here, showing how many messages a sampling of 5,000 women, sorted by attractiveness, received over the last month.
These graphs are adjusted for race, location, age, profile completeness, login activity, and so on—the only meaningful difference between the people plotted is their looks. After running a bunch of these, we began to ask ourselves: what else accounts for the wide spread of the x's, particularly on the “above-average” half of the graph? Is it just randomness?
Our next step was to analyze a woman's actual vote pattern of 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s:
This required a bit more math and is harder to explain with a simple line-chart. Basically, we derived a formula to predict the amount of attention a woman gets, the curve of her votes. With this we can translate what guys think of a woman's looks into how much attention she actually gets.
The equation we arrived at might look opaque, but when we get into it, we'll see it says some funny things about guys and how they decide which women to hit on.
The most important thing to understand is that the ms are the men voting on her looks, making up her graph, so:
And those ms with positive numbers in front contribute to messaging; the ones with negative numbers subtract from it. Here's what this formula is telling us…
So this is our paradox: when some men think you're ugly, other men are more ly to message you. And when some men think you're cute, other men become less interested. Why would this happen? Perhaps a little game theory can explain:
Suppose you're a man who's really into someone. If you suspect other men are uninterested, it means less competition. You therefore have an added incentive to send a message. You might start thinking: maybe she's lonely. . .
maybe she's just waiting to find a guy who appreciates her. . . at least I won't get lost in the crowd. . . maybe these small thoughts, plus the fact that you really think she's hot, prod you to action.
You send her the perfectly crafted opening message.
On the other hand, a woman with a preponderance of '4' votes, someone conventionally cute, but not totally hot, might appear to be more in-demand than she actually is.
To the typical man considering her, she's obviously attractive enough to create the impression that other guys are into her, too.
But maybe she's hot enough for him to throw caution (and grammar) to the wind and send her a message. It's the curse of being cute.
The overall picture looks something this:
I don't assume every woman cares if guys notice her or not, but if you do, what does all the above analysis mean in practical terms?
Well, fundamentally, it's hard to change your overall attractiveness (the big single number we were talking about at the beginning). However, the variance you create is under your control, and it's simple to maximize:
Take whatever you think some guys don't — and play it up.
As you've probably already noticed, women with tattoos and piercings seem to have an intuitive grasp of this principle. They show off what makes them different, and who cares if some people don't it. And they get lots of attention from men.
But our advice can apply to anyone. Browsing OkCupid, I see so many photos that are clearly designed to minimize some supposedly unattractive trait—the close-cropped picture of a person who's probably overweight is the classic example.
We now have mathematical evidence that minimizing your “flaws” is the opposite of what you should do. If you're a little chubby, play it up. If you have a big nose, play it up.
If you have a weird snaggletooth, play it up: statistically, the guys who don't it can only help you, and the ones who do it will be all the more excited.
Read the original article on OkTrends. Copyright 2011. More: Features People Psychology Sex It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.
‘I Feel Bad Because My Friends Aren’t Attractive!’
Photo-Illustration: James Gallagher
Please bear with me as I try to give some context for what is going to sound very unpleasant. I am a reasonably attractive woman in her early 30s.
I have a long-term, doting partner and we are extremely happy in our relationship. I am part of a female friendship group that would typically be considered very attractive, slim, and fit.
Most of us have long-term partners and when we go out, most of us are never short of propositions from male suitors.
My problem is this: I have two friends who would not be described as conventionally attractive. They are both longing for a partner and a family, and as we all get farther into our 30s, this is becoming increasingly problematic.
All I want for them is to be happy, and it’s making me so sad to see such wonderful people being constantly rejected and humiliated in the dating scene.
It also seems particularly unfair to me that so many of our mutual friends are objectively beautiful women and receive what is almost an embarrassing amount of attention from men.
The comparison is drawn, and it’s obvious what the problem is for these two lovely friends.
I have done my best to listen and be empathetic, I encourage them to find hobbies and ways to meet men outside of our social circle, but they are both at a point now where I would say that they are suffering from some level of depression.
I am constantly begging them to seek the help of a therapist so that they can learn to love themselves despite the fact that much of male society thinks they are not worth loving, but they ask me what use that could possibly be when what they truly want is a partner and a family. I’m stuck.
I’ve repeated the same encouragement so many times that I have nothing left to say.
I am widely considered to be an honest friend, sometimes even brutally so. I want to support my friends through the difficulty of what they are experiencing but I often find myself saying something flippant in order to avoid the reality of the situation.
I want to know how I can help these two loving, worthwhile women. I am tired of seeing them suffer and want to help them to help themselves.
I hope I don’t sound heartless when I say they are not “pretty” but I think their success rate in the dating world speaks for itself — they often can’t get past a first date. Please help me!
Desperate to Help
Dear Desperate to Help,
Several years ago, a young woman I’ll call Holly sat on my couch, sobbing, as she recounted a humiliating incident from the weekend before.
At a bar, a cute guy came over and struck up a conversation with her, but soon she realized that he was simply doing his friend a favor — his friend, it turned out, had his sights set on Holly’s “gorgeous” friend, and the guy talking to Holly had no actual interest in her. After an hour of flirtation, the gorgeous friend was asked for her number, while Holly was left with, “Well, hey, take care.”
This sort of thing had been happening since high school. At parties, at lunchtime, in the hallways — always, Holly said, her “gorgeous” friends got all the attention. Guys either d Holly “as a friend,” or used her to get closer to her bevy of beautiful buddies.
Her conclusion? She must be terribly unattractive.
There’s a difference between compassion and pity.
Holly wasn’t unattractive — but nor was she someone who might consistently turn heads. She was attractive in the way that most people are, meaning, not within the media’s very narrow definition.
(For women: tall, skinny, large breasts, smooth long hair, carefully applied makeup that doesn’t look makeup. For men: tall, muscular, chiseled jawline, great hair.
) There was nothing unappealing about her appearance, nothing to “repulse” men (her word) or make them “reject” her (again, her word). She wasn’t “unlovable” or “a troll” — not by a long shot. And I don’t mean that she was “nice” or “had a great personality.
” I mean that she was a normal-looking woman who, I was sure, many men would find attractive and sexy — and easily fall in love with — if she didn’t walk around with a sign on her forehead that said, “I hope you can get past how ugly I am.”
As a therapist, I couldn’t make this woman into a supermodel. But I could show her that her belief that her appearance was her problem was the problem — not her actual appearance.
Together, we looked at why she had a history of spending so much time in situations that made her feel bad.
I wondered what she d about the friends she chose — both in high school and since then — given how often she felt bad after spending time with them. But she said that they didn’t make her feel bad.
Instead, she said, they made her feel that she was cool and funny and entertaining enough to hang out with, even if she wasn’t the prettiest. In this way, they made her feel valued.
Still, I wanted Holly to consider why she also felt “depressed” after hanging out with her friends. On the one hand, she felt valued by being included. On the other, she also felt “less than.” And in subtle ways, without being aware of it, her friends may have thought of her as “less than,” too.
I wondered: Did they consider her an equal? Did they pity her? Did it make them feel good about themselves to be in the company of somebody less conventionally attractive? (Studies show that people are perceived to be more attractive when standing with a less attractive person of the same gender.
) It’s hard to have a friendship in which one person feels superior. It’s not that people who are more attractive (or talented or intelligent or wealthy or successful) shouldn’t befriend people who are less so and vice versa. It’s only a problem if there’s a sense of superiority that comes with it.
Which brings me to back to you, DTH, and your question about how you can help your two friends. You may not realize how damaging your “I feel so sorry for them” attitude is. While I have no doubt that you care about your friends, there’s a difference between compassion and pity, and if you pity them, even privately, you send them a message that’s not just damaging but untrue.
Your contention, for instance, that “the fact that much of male society thinks they are not worth loving” is hardly a “fact.” Sure, the men who hit on the “very attractive, slim, and fit” women in your social circle may not be drawn as strongly to these two friends the dynamics of a bar.
But how you go from that to the conclusion that “much of male society thinks they are not worth loving” is quite a leap!
How do you explain the statistical majority of women in the world who aren’t “very attractive, slim, and fit” — and yet somehow find themselves married to men who presumably consider them “worth loving”? Observe any public place that’s not a pickup scene — the post office, Costco, the DMV, the TSA line at the airport — and look at the preponderance of women who might not fit the “very attractive, slim, and fit” description but have wedding rings on their fingers or boyfriends holding their hands. Next time you’re jogging around a park on a lovely Sunday, take a look around you. Look at all the average-looking people! Look at all of these not-conventionally-hot people sitting with their partners and families, laughing or kissing or chasing their kids across the grass.
I don’t think you know what “the reality of the situation” is. And without intending to, you’re contributing to your friends’ belief in this so-called reality.
There are plenty of attractive and loving men available to your two friends. These women may “not get past a second date” for reasons that have less to do with their appearance than the beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors they’re bringing to those dates. Few young women are so unattractive that they can’t get a second date their appearance alone.
About a year after my patient Holly came to see me, she fell in love, and as she experienced a relationship with an attractive guy who found her sexy and so much more, she realized how intent she had been, beginning in high school, on confirming her belief that she was “less than.
” By limiting herself to friends who d her but considered her beneath them in terms of appearance, she was able to perpetuate this belief; and by pushing for these friends to feel sorry for her by putting herself in situations that generally wouldn’t turn out well, she cemented her role in the group as “the unattractive one with the constant dating woes.”
The more she became aware of these patterns, the more she decided to make changes. She focused on areas of commonality with her “gorgeous friends” — hobbies, work, TV shows, her passions and theirs, her worries and theirs — and soon felt on equal footing with them.
She also made new friends whose dating lives were more typical, with the requisite frustrations, and discovered something else about herself: In the past, she quickly devalued any guy who showed interest in her: Something must be wrong with him. He must be a loser if he finds me attractive, because clearly I’m not.
And, of course, she would unwittingly turn off any guy she was interested in — thus proving herself unlovable and confirming her familiar story. That first relationship didn’t work out, nor did the second, but she gained experience and self-confidence, and the third one did; he became her husband.
On her wedding day, none of her “gorgeous” friends — some married, some still single, one divorced — was the least bit surprised that Holly was marrying an attractive guy who found her gorgeous.
I want to suggest, DTH, that you question your assumptions about men and women and attraction and worth, not just for your two friends’ sakes, but also for yours. Eventually, you too will lose your power to draw male eyeballs in the way you do now.
One day you’ll be sipping drinks at a table next to some very attractive 25-year-olds, or walking down the street with your teenage daughter and her friends, and find that the propositions from male suitors are directed elsewhere.
And by the time that happens, I hope you will have discovered that you are still worth your partner’s love.
Lori Gottlieb is a writer and a psychotherapist in private practice. Got a question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column will appear here every Friday.
All letters to What Your Therapist Really Thinks become the property of New York Media LLC and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.
The information provided by What Your Therapist Really Thinks is for entertainment and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Dear Therapist: ‘I Feel Bad for My Unattractive Friends!’
Am I too ugly to date?
I’ve been single for a year or so now and trying out online dating for nine months. I’m a 35-year-old man and while not the best-looking guy on Earth, I don’t believe I’m hideous either. Yet on the various websites I have tried I am completely unable to elicit even a cursory response from a woman.
I have tweaked my profile with the help of an online forum with expertise in this area, and I send profile-specific messages to everyone I contact. But not a single woman has ever replied.
I don’t only message really good-looking ladies, in fact I tried it with women who are very far from it and I still get nothing.
Well, I got two messages when I sent out a request that someone reply to me to check that I actually exist.
I am beginning to think that I have overrated my own appearance and that I must be hideously ugly. What’s going on?
Before you write off the possibility that you’ll ever love (and be loved) again, consider this: a year is not a very long time to be on your own. It’s not always fun, but it’s not such a long time.
When you’ve been coupled up for a long period of time, it can take a while in the aftermath, not only to process the grief of the breakup, but to get reacquainted with yourself as an individual, what you want and need and what makes you happy.
Your preoccupation with appearances makes me think that may be the case.
There’s no question that people with “conventional” good looks do better in online dating, in terms of the sheer number of messages that they get, but does that mean that they make better partners? Maybe they’re fun and kind and loving. Maybe they’re mean and boring. A photo is just an introduction, after all.
Two pieces of advice for you, here: one, get a friend to go over your profile photos with you and make sure that you’re using the best ones.
I can’t tell you how many men have asked me to critique profiles that feature photos in which they’re pulling funny faces, hanging out with large groups of women, hanging out with drugged panthers, at their own weddings (I’m not suggesting that you’re using your wedding photos, but just saying – it’s a thing).
Two: take a moment to carefully consider the criteria that you’re applying to women you approach online, and how you’re going about approaching them.
Is it possible that your preoccupation with whether they’re “really good-looking ladies” or “very far from it” might be flavoring your messages? If so, then I’d suggest that you take a bit of a break until you’re ready to get to know a whole person.
“,”author”:”Eva”,”date_published”:”2016-03-03T16:16:00.000Z”,”lead_image_url”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/1a6ea61d95aaed27b4e6c0e9bb7ca3164737e5ba/0_0_620_372/master/620.jpg?width=1200&height=630&quality=85&auto=format&fit=crop&overlay-align=bottom%2Cleft&overlay-width=100p&overlay-base64=L2ltZy9zdGF0aWMvb3ZlcmxheXMvdGctZGVmYXVsdC5wbmc&enable=upscale&s=9569b7dfcb92f606fa3f668a0bf2d871″,”dek”:null,”next_page_url”:null,”url”:”https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/mar/03/am-i-too-ugly-dating-advice”,”domain”:”www.theguardian.com”,”excerpt”:”Swipe Right is our advice column that tackles the tricky world of online dating. This week: A man fears that his looks may be letting him down”,”word_count”:468,”direction”:”ltr”,”total_pages”:1,”rendered_pages”:1}