Thursday, September 3, 2015

The law of attractiveness

Some friends and I were talking today, and I was reminded of something that happened in high school. I was in Form Four or Form Five (aged sixteen or seventeen), and my group of girl friends and I were calculating our BMI for Bio class. As it turned out, I was the only one in the group whose BMI was in the 'normal' range, whereas everyone else was 'underweight'. It was an uncomfortable situation, to say the least -- lots of falsely bright reassurances and nervous laughter from them, met with forced smiles from me. I knew that I wasn't fat (my BMI calculation had just proved that), but I wasn't skinny like all my friends were, so there was obviously some questioning and discontent being thrown around in my head. I'm glad my self-esteem wasn't super terrible, because I managed to put it out of my mind eventually and not start skipping meals and things.

That being said, my self-esteem wasn't super great either. All throughout high school, I had the (mis)fortune of being friends with rather attractive girls, including the most popular girls in school. These girls were pretty, and they knew it. Because I was never the pretty friend, I was therefore the ugly friend by default, and I accepted this. This hasn't stopped being the case, by the way. A while ago, I was at dinner with a ragtag bunch of friends, some of whom had never met each other before. After the dinner, a guy friend told me he'd been looking around at the girls and wondering why all my friends were so pretty. I knew he hadn't meant to imply that I wasn't pretty or anything like that, but I confess that it did sting a bit. I never said anything, though, because I realised the problem was me, not his words.

Back to high school. You know how boys in high school are really dumb? Well, these guys had come up with a list of girls in our class, ranked from most to least attractive. (I am so sure some guys my age still do this. Maybe they're just dumb in general.) Upon finding out about the list, I kind of didn't want to hear any more about it, because I was positive that I would be at the very bottom. However, curiosity got the better of me, and I was privy to some parts of said list because one of my best friends was a guy. I was surprised to find out that I'd been ranked higher than a girl I considered more attractive than I. When I asked why, my friend said it was because I had a better personality (so maybe they weren't so dumb after all) and a nice smile. Little ego boost aside, this got me thinking, and I still think about this today.

Attractiveness is such a subjective concept. Truly. Ask ten people to name the most attractive person they know (maybe narrow it down to actors/actresses or something, I don't know), and the responses you'll get will be so varied. People are attracted to people for different reasons, not just because they're skinny or pretty or good with makeup or outgoing; also, you don't have to be conventionally beautiful for people to find you attractive. I used to have a very narrow view of what an attractive girl was, and because I didn't fit that, I just took it to mean that I wasn't one. Which was unfortunate.

If you asked me today if I thought myself attractive, my response would really depend on how I was feeling. I know that I can look quite nice (A/N: I initially typed 'at least semi-decent', but decided to give myself more credit) when I try, but I often don't bother because I don't really feel like looks are something I've got going for me. I know that I'm not overweight, but I'm also not anything like those lean, toned girls in ads modelling sports bras and running shoes (the pressure that society puts on women is the worst thing, but that's a whole 'nother topic). But then again, coming back to the question, what's your definition of attractive? I mean, if it's sporty, down-and-dirty, blue-eyed blonde, then I'm really not. However, if it's short, Asian, and...other things that describe me, then I certainly am!

I guess what I'm trying to say is I've come to realise that you don't have to look or be a certain way to be attractive. It took me quite a while to come to this conclusion, which is regrettable. To everyone out there whose self-esteem isn't the greatest, or even if you're just having a bad day: you are attractive! Don't feel like you have to change anything to conform to society's standards of attractiveness if you don't want to. You are best just as you are. And that is my PSA for today.

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