On attractiveness


Attractiveness is a subjective thing. I am eternally grateful for this. It means that somewhere in this multifaceted universe, there exists somebody who thinks I’m really good looking. In fact, when you think about it, the universe is so vast, it is perfectly possible there is somebody out there who thinks I’m really good looking and who isn’t legally blind.

Thanks to the interweb, this idea no longer has to be proven through probability statistics and can instead be demonstrated as true through the medium of my Myspace inbox. While it’s always nice to have messages that begin with the words “you’re really beautiful”, they do rather get consigned to the pile of Things I Am Actively Ignoring.
This is ultimately for two reasons.
1) The way I look, and indeed your opinion of that, has no bearing on my abilities, achievements or behaviour; I would prefer you to appreciate me for who I am and what I do, not for something as transient and relative as attractiveness.
b) I have Photoshop.

As I do not place any great value on the way I look, it follows that I neither place any great value on the way you look. While height, a chiselled jaw and a manly bearing can make the world of difference in a potential partner, it will always remain a bonus to who you actually are. All I really require is an adequate amount of attention to personal hygiene and an awareness of social order when you get dressed in the morning (there is a time for jeans and ripped t-shirts, the office and dates are not they).

Mammy has always worried about the way she looks. Whenever we are out, she will take me to one side and whisper, “Am I as fat as that woman over there?” This is a bad thing to ask me. She may be my Mammy, but I’m not going to enable her neurosis by humouring her. These days she prefers to go out with Strider.
As she slides further into pensionerhood, Mammy examines older women on the television, comparing herself with them. “How old do you think she is?” she will ask, “Does she look older than me?”
Sometimes she asks if I think she should have a facelift. I’m trying to put her off by claiming a facelift will leave scars she will have to cover with makeup. Mammy is not keen on applying lots of makeup.
Mammy disputes my claim regarding scarring and jiggles her bingo wings. “If I had the money for a facelift, I think I’d spend it on liposuction instead,” she says.

Cos does not help matters. She has become a fan of Botox. When we saw her 18 months ago, she had already had one course of it in her forehead. Since then, she tells us, she has had her lips done and further updates to control the wrinkles on her forehead. This makes Mammy keen to try it herself.
“How will you be able to communicate adequately if you can no longer move your eyebrows?” I ask. “And what will you do if you have too much and your face freezes in a permanently startled expression? You know how annoyed you get when we constantly ask you what’s wrong.” Mammy agrees with this.

To be honest, there is far, far too much emphasis placed on the way we look. It is hugely depressing to read about how x% of 8 year olds think they are too fat or that you have to be thin to be popular. I think we have got to the stage now where we are no longer worried about how we look, but that we are instead worried about worrying about how we look. I’m not convinced an 8 year old genuinely feels they have an inadequate body, I think they feel that they are supposed to feel that way. How stupid is that?
It is the same with the rising numbers of women feeling the pressure to conform to the standards of the porn industry. Seriously ladies, is there a man in existence who is going to get far enough with you to discover the size, shape and styling of your labia, only to decide you are too repulsive to sleep with? Preferences are fine, we all have them, but to be made to feel it is the social norm and unacceptable not to be a certain way is both ridiculous and dangerous. The minute anything like that becomes a deal breaker is the minute we need to point out the exit.

At the end of the day we are as we are and we must accept each other as that. We must avoid placing too much emphasis on such ephemeral values as attractiveness. Sometimes we look great in photographs, sometimes we look minging. It’s always worth remembering that the hottie mugging at the camera probably spends much of her day in front of a computer wearing a cardigan covered in soup and toothpaste.