Looks Matter: How to Be Attractive

Looks Matter: How to Be Attractive
Jessica Rabbit

It appalls me. I’m much more satisfied now than I was before, but how could this happen. What happened to me? How can people be so cruel?

At 26, I am the classic ugly duckling-turned swan story. Frizzy red hair, a slight pot-belly from a single-semester soda addiction, but still awkwardly skinny and no clue how to dress in high school, followed by gaining too much weight junior year of college, at 23 I began to morph into a butterfly.

I not only lost the weight but became stronger, cut my hair and started paying more attention to what I was wearing.

Three years later, not a few weeks go by without someone telling me I’m pretty, attractive, or, today, my favorite: gorgeous.

It’s shocking to me. I never knew that attractive people were told they’re pretty all the time. It still shocks me to hear it, and I probably take it to heart a little too much. Sometimes I stare in the mirror wondering what happened to me; in addition to the changes I had control over making, something about my face changed. And I’m not quite sure what, or how. I can’t say I’m upset about it, but I fear it will go away, as everyone’s looks begin to fade. And I fear this post will seem vain. But maybe it’s an overcompensation for a lack of confidence and an insecurity of still feeling ugly.

What’s even more shocking, is how differently people treat me. They say attractive people are more likely to be hired, expected to be good at their jobs, etc. What I don’t think people who’ve been attractive all their lives realize is how it feels to be ugly, or even to be fat, if they’re not. It’s all very funny:

It’s funny how people give me the time of day now.

It’s funny how people approach me all the time.

It’s funny how people assume I’m stupid.

It’s funny how girls get jealous of me. But they don’t know what’s going on in my head.

It’s funny getting all this attention I never got before.

It’s funny how every time I see old friends, they comment on my appearance, like that’s all that matters. And it does matter. A lot, I’m learning.

It’s funny how I’ve had a few extremely attractive men show interest in me, and I cannot believe it. Worse, I have no idea how to flirt back with them. Or even what to say to them.

It’s funny how I feel like I don’t have to try to be so funny to get people to like me anymore, as a way to compensate for my looks.

It’s funny how people respect me more, but also respect me less. Assume I’m a whore or something like that. But the (bitchy) sorority-girls* who wouldn’t talk to me before do now. More people seem to think I’m in “their class”. And less attractive people are less willing to talk to me, assuming I’ll be a bitch.

It’s funny too how despite all this, I still feel insecure inside. It surprises me when people tell me I’m attractive or when guys think I’m out of their league. I used to feel that I wasn’t even in a league!

What’s funny too, is how an old friend tells me her male friend said that I’m hot now, and she qualifies that with, “And no offense, but his girlfriend is gorgeous!” as a catty way to make herself feel better.

What’s funnier is how before, people treated me like I was going to be smart, before even talking to me. And they assumed I was an intellectual, because I wasn’t pretty. What’s funny too is how men used to approach me like I was one of the guys, and now they approach me like I’m a girl.

What’s funniest, is how I could meet a million men — and women — to go home with, but before, in the “ugly” phase, a few higher quality opportunities presented themselves. Those men were genuinely interested me as a person. And actually wanted commitment.

It’s all very funny. This ugly duckling turned swan scenario. Caterpillar turned butterfly. A great friend of mine said that she likes when this happens to people, because, “It’s like the world making things right.” There have been so many movies made about this, in a high school reunion context. And I can’t stop thinking about my 10-year high school reunion. I keep thinking, “I’ll show them!” But really, probably, nobody really cares. They’re too busy with babies and husbands and wives, and things that are actually important, unlike being attractive.

I guess what I’m saying is, that attractiveness doesn’t provide confidence. What’s strange, is that people who were attractive at a younger age, even if they become uglier, seem to have a confidence that carries into adulthood. Whereas people like me are wondering WTF do I do now? How do I handle this? And being aghast at the differences appearance makes. Who knew that how incredibly un-subtle it is — the 180 degree difference in how people treat unattractive versus attractive people. Fat people versus skinny people. With average somewhere in between.

But I guess we’re all just a work in progress, and in many ways it’s better this way. Those of us in my category can empathize with everyone now. We understand where both sides are coming from.

I met a guy, recently, who went through a similar transformation. I could tell when I met him that he used to be less attractive, solely by what he talked about. He was in as much shock as I was about how things changed. Particularly, he bragged about going home with bartenders and likes to post on Facebook all kinds of pictures of himself with beautiful girls. This seems immature, but his new reality is something he probably wished for all his life, and he was expressing his shock — and gratitude — for the change in seemingly imbecile ways.

And that’s it; we’re all constantly adapting to our new realities. We’re all a work in progress.

Do you have an ugly-duckling-turned-swan story? Have you noticed a difference in how you’re treated?

*I don’t think all sorority girls are bitchy, stuck up or otherwise annoying by any means. Most I’ve met are great people.

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  • First, I've just always loved your blog. Usually you write hysterical things like the glossary that included "daywalker" (I'm still laughing).

    I actually assumed you were older this whole time. 25/26 years old is thee peak age. I'm not a red head, but I do consider that was my best time as well (I'm in my 30's now). What's great about not having always been the prom queen is you have perspective to know that looks are fleeting.

    Also, the only people who are whores are people paid money for sex. There is nothing wrong with dating around and taking opportunities to get to know people. Good luck!

  • In reply to Jenna Karvunidis:

    Thanks for the compliment, Jenna!

    I get that a lot (about seeming older). I blame it on account of being born with red hair making me have to grow up faster. But in all seriousness, based on your pictures, it looks like your 30s are your peak age!

  • Enjoy your beauty! You are fortunate to have perspective of both sides, and you can write from experience. A formidable combination, use it for good.....

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    Thanks for commenting...the question is: how to use it for good?

  • Yes, you are wise and fortunate to have both perspectives. Have fun "dating"! :) www.lipstickandlollypops.com

  • In reply to Julia:

    Thanks! Nice blog. :)

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    Congratulations. I have a similar story from the male perspective: when I finally got to the "handsome" stage, I dated the most beautiful women I could for a number of years, and then eventually got past that and into dating women for substance as well as looks. I never felt bad about any stage of this process, and men aren't treated quite as differently as women are in this respect, but it was strange all the same to find people reacting differently to you than the way you expected them to. Congrats.

  • In reply to Ch1cag0rob:

    Glad I'm not the only one who noticed the difference...I'm going to take a cue from you & start dating the most handsome men I can find (who still like gingers, of course) :P

  • All you guys that are deemed attractive are quite lucky. I've been called ugly my entire life and no matter what things I earn or how hard I try, I still am unattractive. It's even worse because I am out of my 20s, most of my friends are "done" dating and I have been single as long as I can remember. I never got to have that phase. Can you imagine how incomplete that makes me feel? I don't mind having that freedom (because since no one wants me, I don't have to be anywhere at any certain time), but everyone wants to be wanted. I'm sorry, but it's just not fun when you are always deemed unattractive regardless of education, money, skills, travel or whatever other good things that you have earned or done for yourself. I would do virtually anything legal to have just a few hot girls want to be with me more or date me. I'm lacking the experience to even handle a serious relationship other than winging it. You all are so lucky, you don't even know.

  • I am sorry to hear that. I'm sure you've heard this before but...have you tried online dating?

    Also, your response reminds me of a talk show host I once watched wherein a man who had befriended a woman who had no face because he wanted her to feel normal confessed (in tears) that he was in love with her. And you have a face! So keep on keeping on.

    But, that being said, some of us aren't meant for relationships...but for greater things. :D

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