The Dark Side Of Attractiveness

I was reading a post by Thought Catalog [click here to read it] about how life changes when you get more attractive, and it really got me thinking about my own life.

Who knows who she’ll be a few years from now. (Photo credit: elitedaily.com)

This is hard for me to write without sounding shallow, but I want to try. I’ve been typing this over and over trying to find the right way to say it, and I hate that I’ve been tip-toeing around the subject. So here’s what I’ve experienced. I’d love to hear other people’s stories.

Growing up, I hated myself. I wasn’t overweight or anything, just extremely uncomfortable in my own skin. I had frizzy, curly hair and braces. I never thought much about my body until I was about 11 and a friend told me that I had kind of a big butt. I’ve never been able to get past the insecurity that comment has caused me. A decade later and I still remember. I work out, I’m in pretty good shape, and I now do pole dancing. It makes me feel sexy and strong in ways that nothing else ever has.

And yet… despite my boyfriend telling me how much he loves my body, especially my butt for some reason, and despite being confident enough to be a pole dancer, I still hate myself some days. I look at the bump on my lower abdomen that pretty much every woman has, or I’ll look at my backside in the mirror, and I remember that comment that was made when I was a kid. I feel like no matter what, I’ll never be good enough.

If you look at the picture on the home page of my blog, you might say “she’s pretty”. I’ve heard it before. And no, I’m not fishing for compliments. I get hit on by guys every once in a while, and it serves as a reminder that people don’t see the awkward, insecure teenager that I was. I once had a guy change the oil in my car for free because I was out in the parking lot failing to put oil in my car myself. It was nice of him to do, but even when it happened I was wondering if he would have helped me if I was 30 pounds heavier or hadn’t straightened my hair that day. I’ve had men buy me drinks or try really hard to be my friend when I knew exactly what they wanted. But when you tell a new acquaintance that you don’t really want to “be their new friend”, you come off as a bitch and they turn on you very quickly, feigning it was truly only friendship they wanted all along.

Pole Dance

It’s hard to believe how hard life was growing up for some people. (Photo credit: kularock)

Is life easier if you’re attractive? Maybe. Men certainly treat women better if they’re attractive, and are more willing to help you. Sometimes you get the pleasure of watching people make an ass of themselves when they’re trying to act normal. Like the guy at the coffee shop who accidentally threw cups everywhere. Or the guy at the electronics store who threw a heavy box across the room to kill a spider. His friends were as embarrassed as I was for his impromptu display of strength.

You might not realize this, but although men treat attractive women better, other women treat attractive women much worse. They assume you’re either a complete fake, or that you’re somehow trying to take something they have. Attractive women are less likely to be hired by other women, possibly because they’re seen as some sort of threat. I’ve seen girls talk behind the backs of girls they don’t even know. And I’ll admit, I’m very critical of other women as well. I don’t know why, but I just can’t help it. I keep the comments to myself, however, because I like to think I’m classier than that.

You never “outgrow” who you used to be. If you have a dark past, it will haunt you for the rest of your life. Even now, I don’t have many female friends because I know how catty and awful women can be. There’s a lot of really great ladies out there, but it’s hard to trust that someone is really just nice when you’ve been hurt by someone you called your best friend.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that life isn’t actually easier if you’re attractive, it’s just different. You’re presented with a new set of problems. Most of which are problems you’ve created for yourself by how you view the world, yourself, and everyone else.

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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

11 responses to “The Dark Side Of Attractiveness”

  1. Paul Gauchi says :

    I think I understand what you are trying to say. I resently lost alot of wieght and toned my phyique and I have noticed some women paying more attention to me too. I am not use to this attention and wonder too if I had not lost the wieght what would be their responce to me.
    Although I do understand your statment of women treating other attractive women worse. I am a teacher and I notice this in the work place with older children, parents and teachers. Girls start around 10 years of age as do boys. I believe it must have something to do with puberty and some natural instinctual responce in the species. If this is the case I guess we just have to be made aware of it and accept and deal with it. It sucks I know but maybe one day things will be different.

    • janinerussell says :

      Fascinating. I’m wondering if this “natural instinctual response” you mentioned had something to do with being each other’s competition back in caveman days when securing a partner could mean the difference between surviving the winter and not. Thanks for adding that in!

  2. Omar says :

    I actually encountered this the other way around. I gained weight, and while I still received comments from women, that I am handsome and attractive, on a personal level, it wasn’t working out with my ex girlfriend. Because I’ve gained weight. I believe that beauty and what we consider beautiful is very personal, and each person sees beauty in a different way. I’ve learned to live with myself as I am, I am not that overweight that it’s unhealthy, so I didn’t try to lose weight, just to fit someone else’s opinion of handsome and good looking. Later in life, I found the woman who accepted me the way I am, and we are happy together. So I think as long as you are happy with yourself, and are healthy, what others think is beautiful, or a “big” butt, is their opinion, and they are entitled to it. What matters is what’s beautiful to you, and makes you feel good in your own skin, if putting on a few pounds, or losing a few makes you feel better, that’s what matters. There is no way to be accepted by everyone, someone is bound to find something to dislike, while another finds the same attractive. And I think this is the hardest to explain to teenagers, and younger generation, but as we grow older and wiser, we see things a bit differently.

    • janinerussell says :

      I agree, and deep down I know that the person you are meant to be with will love you just as you are. It’s just hard when we’ve been taught that we need to feel insecure if we’re not perfect. Your comment actually reminded me of when I was a teenager and my mom (who is a pear shape just like I am) told me “when you’re older you’ll understand, boys will appreciate you the way you are”, and I always assumed she was lying. That’s the problem with teenagers. Too much drama, and they assume everything is the way it will always be. It’s a shame, really, because that kind of attitude helps to make high school very miserable for some people.
      Thanks for contributing your story!

  3. uhbeautifuldisaster says :

    I always think chics are crazy when someone i find really attractive downs critizes their looks. For some reason, and I feel awful for feeling this way, but a model once told me that she doesn’t feel good enough and is her own worst critique. I thought: how could you feel insecure when so many fans say you’re going to go far? I have curly hair and grew up hating who I was. But to get anywhere in life you have to believe in yourself. That’s what my blog is all about – accepting who I am because there is a lady inside me who wants to feel powerful and attractive. I hope you blossom over time and let yourself feel beautiful – i took the body peace pledge last month you can find it in seventeen magazine. I reflect on the pledge when I have a wardrobe malfunction or bad hair day. We can’t all be models, but we can become beautiful role models. If I can do it, you can too.

    • janinerussell says :

      A model did a Ted Talk on the topic (if you aren’t familiar with ted talks, you definitely need to check them out, they’re fantastic!) and she said that models are the most insecure women she knows because they’re always being watched. If a model gains a couple of pounds, she could be out of work. For that reason it’s easy to see why someone who is what we would consider to be genetically “blessed” as far as appearance goes would be insecure. That being said, I loved your comment. You’re right. As we grow up we change a lot, and learning to love and accept ourselves as we are is crucial as we get older. And you’re right, we can all be role models. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  4. pebs306 says :

    Hi! The quote from Ernest Hemingway was what caught my attention. I truly appreciate your post. In some ways I think it’s easier for women to connect with other women, and in other ways it’s harder. Your honest self-deprecation is refreshing. I think it’s a beautiful trait to be honest and authentic. Like you, I had my insecurities growing up. But it wasn’t because I was pretty, it was because I wished I was pretty, or skinny, or had blonde hair. I’m Asian so it seemed like people perceived me as a stereotype- smart, knows martial arts, good with Math. I wished they perceived me as the popular girl or the pretty girl. But I was neither. I was just me. I wanted cute guys to notice me but they didn’t. For years I struggled with that. It didn’t help that I was shy and wore glasses. And then I went to college and I found myself. It sounds cliched but it’s true. Being away from home, starting new, I forged a new identity- one who embraced independence, new-found freedom, and adventures. I found my confidence. I met new people and made lasting friends. Sure, I’m still me. But my whole perspective has changed since my childhood. I no longer wished to be anyone but myself. Yes, I’m still Asian (can’t change that), I have gained more weight now than my teen years, I can’t flirt for the life of me but it’s ok. I’ve come to terms that I am not perfect and being me is what makes me special- you can call it weaknesses, flaws, whatever. We all have our journeys to take in life. I hope you embrace yours. I hope you love yourself. Because that is essential. I completely understand how it’s not easy making women friends when one has hurt you in the past. And I agree, some women can be catty, cliquey, and judgmental. But not all women are like that. You just have to be willing to put yourself out there if the opportunity comes. And hope they do too.

    • janinerussell says :

      Moving away and becoming who you really are is what my blog is all about. I did the same thing, and am very different now because of it. I guess I’m still me, but when you’re in a new environment and have the chance to make new choices, you can decide what’s best for you and how your future will go. I had a Korean friend who got an eyelid surgery that put a crease above her eye when there wasn’t one there before. She got it for surgical reasons because her eyelashes were growing towards her eyeball, but I distinctly remember her saying that she thought creased eyes were prettier, and I never understood it. I find it really unfortunate that there are women who aren’t happy with their appearance with something that is clearly cultural, and will even go through surgical procedures to get a little bit closer to what they seem to feel is “ideal”. It’s a messed up world, but unfortunately it’s the world we live in. At least that insecurity is something that we know all women feel, and I hope that helps people to feel like they’re not alone. Congratulations on discovering who you really are. I’m glad you were able to turn things around for the better and be more accepting of who you are 🙂

  5. usmanjhangiri says :

    I was looking at my reader, and my eye just swiveled to this line that said, ‘Sit down at a typewriter, and bleed’. Loved that line, and loved reading a few of your posts. And yes, you are beautiful. and I’m not hitting on you. I think you’re a very genuine person. Hard to find people like you these days.

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