Occasionally, I get the comments. You know the ones: “You would look so much prettier without makeup.” “Have you considered a face wax? That ‘stache is not looking great.” “Long hair suits you sooooooo much better.”
Sometimes the person is genuinely trying to be nice. Often, though, it’s delivered with the implication that: “Boys will like you better.”
I won’t deny that I once even bought into that. But after a few rounds of approach and rejection (as well as generally interacting with more people) I came to the following conclusion:
Looks don’t matter.
Or, to be more precise, looks are a really shitty predictor for a lasting connection.
I mean, think really hard about the human body. Think about your body. Think about all the changes it has gone through, in all of your years, and all the changes it will likely experience in the future. Are you seriously, honestly, basing your predictions for a happy future on something THIS unreliable?
Ah, but beauty is an indicator of health, and it’s really the first step, really, it’s all very animal in nature, blah-blah-blah.
That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the shallow, unrealistic culture we have around beauty and love. The idea that, the more handsome someone is (let’s face it, the more effable they are) the more destined they are for lasting love. I’m talking about beauty being used as a predictor for the quality of a relationship before it even happens. And I’m talking about the mental anguish we experience when we perceive ourselves as lesser because of our looks.
For a while, I engaged in a lot of damaging behaviors that, quite frankly, I don’t know if I will ever recover from – all in the name of “boys* finding me attractive”. I developed bad eating habits. I exercised until I was faint. I once ran a half-marathon the day after I recovered from a stomach bug. The year before, I ran 8 miles in the blistering heat, far away from populated areas, without so much as a bottle of water on me, or a phone. In hindsight, I realize how scary and dangerous all that was, but back then, I thought I was winning it.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg.
I wish back then that I knew what I know now. I wish I paid less attention to the aesthetics and focused more on things that made me happy.
Here’s what happens when you focus too much on looks: you attract the sorts of people who only care about looks, too. These people are turned off by any little imperfection, anything that is non-Instagrammable, anything that gets sick or weak or changes. These people are very invested in you, so long as you look good together. The second you start being human, they run for the hills.
If lasting love is what you want, looks are not what’s going to seal the deal. If they factor at all, it will only be for the briefest of moments. (Ask me how I know. Ask me how many pretty people I have met who, upon getting to know them, turn out to be insensitive jerks, fat-shamers, victim-blamers, and holier-than-thou proponents of the Sanctity of Marriage.)
Your forever person would not do that.
Your forever person would want you to be happy, regardless of what you look like. Your forever person won’t balk at nursing you through an illness or supporting you if you have a disability. Your forever person won’t force you to be anyone you are not, molding you into a fantasy image, or upgrade you for a younger model when time, inevitably, takes its due from all of us.
Your forever person would care about the human-you, the part that morphs and grows and farts and has unexpected reaction to crayfish. Your forever person will love you regardless of whether you make a cute couple on the ‘gram or not.
Your forever person loves you, ever changing.
They find your soul enticing no matter what fleshy form it takes.
They treat you, in other words, the exact same way you would treat them – with love and respect. Not as a pretty person or an able person or a strong person, but as a human.