Body Health, Humor

CAREFUL: HOT OBJECT

Over the last week, I’ve made the same (probably unfunny by this point, but if there’s one thing I admire about myself, it’s my ability to commit) joke. “I’m too hot not to go to that!” “It’s hard being the hottest person at work.” (It is, by the way). “I’m hot and funny.” (this was to a Hinge match who has since not messaged me back, so maybe not ideal).

This is a common caricature I cloak myself in, the overconfident and underwhelming deluded. I do it because I think it’s funny, but I also do it as a way of jumping the shark.

If I’m making a joke or having a laugh about being hot, then if you don’t think I’m hot – well, I already made fun of myself. And at the same time, it operates as a tacit desire for approval: if you didn’t think I was hot, then you would say something or make a face or vomit. It’s also socially unacceptable to actively believe and proclaim that you’re good-looking. You get painted as vain, self-centered or out of touch.

But something has been happening: for some reason, making the joke this past week, instead of betraying my lack of confidence or my paranoia, has actually, weirdly, made me feel hotter. It’s having the opposite effect it usually does. Usually, when I say something like that, it like twists inside me, making me feel slightly more insecure as I gauge the reaction on the other person’s face.

It has a lot to do with context.

In the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about high school, and the person I was in high school. In high school, I was a skinny, gawky kid with bad skin and no eyebrows. I dressed like a Day-Glo clown hooker, and I thought I looked amazing.

I’ve got a five-year reunion coming up in a few weeks, and I really seesawed between wanting to go and wanting to skip it. But one of the primary motivators for me wanting to go is, simply, that I look way better now than I did then. My skin’s in a Good Place™ and I like what my hair’s been doing. I’ve been exercising in new and different ways, and I’ve finally managed to find a style that doesn’t make me look like Raggedy Andy’s loose cousin. I’ve been looking better, and suddenly calling myself “hot” doesn’t ring in my ears like a joke.

If vanity seems like a thin reason to see old high school classmates, then I’m really doing a bad job of explaining how good-looking I am now. It’s imperative I get myself to the people.

I’ve also found a good psychiatrist, and she’s forcing me to confront how my jokes are thin (thin, honey I’ll show you thin!) attempts at masking my own cracked insecurities. I’m also realizing how bad making those jokes about myself, like calling myself a Day-Glo clown hooker or Raggedy Andy in this post, could (and do) end up making me feel worse instead of better.

I’ve realized (something probably everyone else has realized) that me making jokes do nothing for protecting my vulnerabilities. And instead of jumping the shark, I’m flinging myself to the wolves.

Confidence is, honestly, the most attractive quality someone can have. Everyone I’ve been involved with has had this raw confident energy and that (mixed with the large inheritances) was a huge pull for me. My making these jokes might feel good in the short-term, but they seriously chip away at my confidence when I’m reinforcing to myself that I’m not good-looking.

I always make the joke that if I were confident, then I would be a true monster. But honey, this must be where the Wild Things are, because I wanna be a monster!

Of course, this post has sat on my dashboard for a week, so when I started this I felt amazing, and now I feel not-so-confident. But I’m gonna put it up anyway, despite the messiness of this writing and despite me feeling like I could crack a mirror.

I’m going to be better about accepting compliments, and making active attempts to dole out compliments of my own.

And let it be known, that one time a hot, drunk straight™ told me that it “wasn’t my looks that were keeping me single.” Hurtful, but maybe I’m too hot to care!

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Holidannys

MISCELLANEOUS MONDAY: AN ANTHROPOLOGICAL APPROACH TO BEAUTY

There’s a girl at my work that looks like the cover of a Sports Illustrated, all tanned skin and blonde hair thrown up into a messy topknot, the kind that makes girls want to kill themselves over. She was sitting and talking to my coworker, two seats away from me. She didn’t look at me, or even talk to me, but I felt a creeping blush burn across my cheeks. When she left, and my face paled, I looked at another coworker and said, “She’s so hot that even I’m uncomfortable.”

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She was a 10.

There’s a boy who lives on my floor who looks like the kind of boy Lizzie McGuire would fall in love with, 2005-surfer-boy-chic, and whenever I talk to him, I become this macho bro version of myself.

He was a 10.

What is it about objective attractiveness that makes me melt? I’m not attracted to either of these people—actually, their 10-ness is what makes me distinctly un-attracted to them. I’m totally lying; I just know how many standard deviations of attractiveness I’m allowed to move in either direction, and they’re outliers. Also they’re both straight, and I’ve had approximately two Tweets worth of conversation with either of them.

I have a fascination with extremely attractive people. It’s not sexual; it’s scientific. Consider me an anthropologist. Even if we aren’t attracted to them, we treat beautiful people in a certain way. We treat them as if they’re rarified. We want to get into their good graces. It’s instinctive; it’s like the privilege of getting to talk to the most popular kid when you were in sixth grade.

I recently attempted/did ask out someone. He’s the kind of attractive where you rubberneck and go, “Wait, really?” And when asked what I liked about him, I would say, “Um, he’s cute, I guess, and nice.” I’m lying when I give that answer. I’m bamboozled by his attractiveness. I have no idea if he’s nice. He could be sacrificing baby goats and wearing their skins as a cape, and all I would do is tilt my head into my palm and go, “Oh that’s so cool.”

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I’m so fake, but so are you. Let’s not pretend that we don’t all do this.

But I imagine that, as amazing as it must be, it must also be incredibly isolating being wanted for only your looks. In a recent Rolling Stone article, Adele said, “But sometimes I’m curious to know if I would have been as successful if I wasn’t plus-size. I think I remind everyone of themselves. Not saying everyone is my size, but it’s relatable because I’m not perfect, and I think a lot of people are portrayed as perfect, unreachable, and untouchable.”

And the idea of success being rooted partially in appearance pervades our world. Would pop stars be as successful if they weren’t commercially attractive, ready for consumption and palatable to the general public? Surely there are lots of people out there who are good singers. But are they fuckable?

There is a YouTube couple that I watch occasionally. Mark Miller and his boyfriend Ethan Hethcote are Indiana-bred, all-American golden boys. Mark looks like an ad for Men’s Health and Ethan has that amiable, boy-next-door hotness. Their videos are cute and silly and fluffy, but their subscriber count, half a million on Mark’s and a quarter of a million on Ethan’s, betray the underlying impetus. They’re hot, and they’re traditional paragons of masculinity, and we can’t stop watching. It’s why I’m subscribed. It’s why I click on their videos. But it’s also why I tend to skip over them with a clench in my stomach. Because I know deep down that I’m more interested in their faces than their voices. And I hate that I’m like that.

I was going to start out this blog by saying, “I don’t trust anyone who didn’t have bad acne, some sort of tooth issue, or a little bit of fat.” Which, I generally stand by, but I realize is a little beauty-phobic. I generally trust people who went through awkward patches, who have learned to rely on inner beauty and comedy, who are…well, like me.

I can’t relate to beautiful people, therefore I shame them. But maybe beautiful people are just as weird and fucked up as me? Maybe they’re just waiting for someone to include them into the Weird And Wonderful circle. Because if Keeping Up With The Kardashians and The Hills have taught me one thing, it’s that beauty doesn’t guarantee happiness.

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We objectify beautiful people because it’s easier than to humanize them. It’s easier to write them off when we’re bemoaning our pain. “He would never understand that. He’s always been hot.” Sometimes that pedestal that we put beautiful people on develops into a full-blown trench separating the Hots from the Nots.

I think I started off this blog thinking that I didn’t identify with beauty, and because of that, I was somehow better and they were worse off for never having struggled like I did. But who the fuck am I to decide what anyone has gone through? At the end of the day, don’t we all just want to be seen as the fucked-up meat puppets we all are?

Everyone is put into some boxes due to their appearance. Adele, because of her weight, was labeled “approachable” and “one of us.” But she’s also a multimillionaire and has a voice of an angel. But we still see her as one of us because she’s “normal.” Mark and Ethan are “hot” so they’re watchable and consumable and enviable.

Everyone’s in a box, and some might have the pretty labels and privileges, but it’s still a box, at the end of the day. It’s still outward objectification and judgment imposing itself on individual lives.

Maybe they’re relying on hot, but I’m definitely relying on funny, and, when broken down, is that really much different? Everyone has a crutch, and some crutches are chosen for them. Am I really able to pass judgment on someone just because their crutch is a pretty face and a good butt?

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