It seems like everywhere you look there’s some aspect of culture there to tell you that you are not beautiful. Your skin is blemished, your hair needs to be straighter, your wardrobe better and your teeth whiter. Your body could be a bit tighter and you could stand to lose a few pounds. But you’re beautiful as you are, not because you’re everyone’s type or because you look like the girl in the fashion ads. You’re beautiful because you’re you, because nobody else can be you. You can’t be replaced.
Somehow wanting to look good is even more serious business when you’re a gay male who just wants to be loved. For the longest time I’ve struggled with the way I look. I know I’m funny. I know I’m smart. And I know I can work a look. But I’ve spent so much time in my boy-crazy, sexually active life wondering if guys find me attractive. I see their profiles explaining in precise detail that they only want other masculine guys (I don’t give a shit about masculinity) or that they don’t like campy guys (I love being a total fag), so it’s always been hard for me to see where I fit into the box.
Eventually I just stopped caring. I stopped caring about what other people think about me and my body and my performance of gender. I learned that beauty isn’t about whether you look like the guys in the porn or if you get hit on every second of everyday. Beauty is not about unblemished skin or pearly white teeth or about getting 55 messages on Grindr all at once. Beauty is what you do to make yourself feel good, for you. Beauty is when you are confident and stop caring about what other people think and when you stop trying to fit into narrow, pre-defined boxes of what beauty means.
Even the most beautiful people — folks you look at and think, wow, they must have it easy because they are so good-looking — have their own body image issues. I once went on a date with a guy from Eastern Europe who was so good-looking my heart was racing the whole time we talked. He was tall and smelled so nice and when he spoke I saw his mouth move but really I was just staring at his beautiful face.
He later told me he felt ugly and I was so shocked.
“What?!” I said. “YOU? But you are extremely good-looking.” He wasn’t hearing it.
There are some days when you’re just not going to feel all that great. We all have them. Maybe you’re having a bad hair day, or maybe it’s grey out and you’re just generally feeling sort of ‘meh’ about everything. Beauty won’t come out of a box or off of a clothing rack. Beauty is not a diet, a body type or a workout routine. Beauty is what you do to feel good for you.