Looks Matter But I Refuse to “Capitalize” on My Good Looks

The way your face looks is one of those weird, lottery-type aspects of life — you have no control if it’s good or bad. Similar to the country you’re born in, the name you’re given, and how tall you stand, you have no influence over these.

Some are more, or less, fortunate than others. For instance, I listened to a podcast the other day and nearly spit coffee all over the place when I heard about this guy, Tuur Demeester. Go ahead, say his name.

Many things are unfair in this way. More specifically, you don’t get to choose if you’re ugly or beautiful — it just sorta happens to you.

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Right.
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Intentionally extra.

Let me be clear, I write none of this in vanity, or to show excessive pride in my own appearance. I know it’s going to come off that way, so sorry.

Okay, enough events have unfolded that lead me to believe the following statement: I am a good looking guy. Above average, in fact. (You’re not supposed to say that, but I just said it.) People tell me this all the time and it comes from people who have pretty much no business commenting on how I look — my male friends, coworkers, older black women, professors, football coaches. Of course my Mom thinks I’m handsome, but when your burly outside-linebacker coach blantantly tells the team he’d throw a wig on you and F*CK YOU, you know something’s up. On top of that, I was nominated “Most Attractive” among my graduating class. We really need better superlatives, because I’m not proud of this “achievement” at all. I think it’s an incredibly lame award which equates to nothing but a false sense of pride and entitlement. It’s seriously not worth recognizing.

At this point though, I get it. People think I’m attractive. I don’t know why, but they do. That sounds like a brag, but denying it would be a humblebrag. And saying looks don’t matter would be a big, fat lie.

Your Face Has Face-Value

People make snap judgements based off appearance. I do it, you do it, we all do it because that’s how our brains work. This actually helps us some times. When it comes to social interactions, mental shortcuts allow us to navigate them efficiently and safely. However, although efficient, quick assertions aren’t always accurate or even useful to why we socialize in the first place.

I’ve seen this play out. Last semester, I made an effort to be more open, more conversational, in my day-to-day. I made a lot of new friends — friends with people I’d normally only pass by after class or see around campus. As I got to know more people, I kept getting this same reaction:

“You’re a lot different than I thought you were.”

And my response is always:

“Who did you think I was??”

It’s usually off-putting. They tell me I look like a frat guy, which is basically connotative with a slew of shallow, mega-douchey traits. I’ve heard I look serious. Ooo. One person was bold enough to admit they thought I was “arrogant.”

It’s crazy how much we say even when we say nothing.

Not only do people assign traits and critique the quality of your character based on how you look, they also have expectations for how you should act. From career choices to dating decisions, I’ve gotten some really weird advice based entirely off the way my face looks.

Appearance: How Things Appear, Not Actually Are

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Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

If you’re starting to think I’m just virtue signaling by complaining about not being ugly, slow your roll. Here’s the best way I can illustrate the point I’m attempting to make:

Imagine a car — a nice car. Powerful engine. Sleek build. Fuel efficient. Everything about it is nice. Nice interior, nice windows, those cool blue-ish headlights, and a FIRE sound system. Then someone comes along and says “I like the color.”

Superficial, subjective comments overshadow what holds weight and has meaning. This is what happens when you constantly hear “omg, you’re so cute!” Like, I’m flattered. Seriously, that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and good about myself. But when it’s the main compliment you attract, it starts to seem like people don’t care about, or appreciate, the aspects of your character that actually make you who you are. Just as the paint job overrides the purpose and functionality of the car, “attractiveness” overrides aspects of competence, compassion, and conviction in people.

Yeah, I’m fully aware there are greater things to make a point about. Still, I feel this is one of those strange things you don’t understand, or think about, unless it happens to you… or someone explains it like I’m doing right now.

We make a really big deal about physical appearance way more than we should (or even have to). I don’t think it happens by random either.

Society constantly tells us looks are important. You see it in media everywhere you look: Look at show business, dating apps, Instagram influencers — each thrive off beauty. In some cases, if you remove bodily aesthetic from the picture, they no longer work or have influence at all (e.g. imagine if the Kardashians were, say, really ugly).

This is just a flawed way of assigning worth to people.

In reality, looks mean so little. If we let them control our self-worth, we’re giving ourselves up to something we cannot control.

And honestly, for me, good looks have nothing to do with any of the traits and attributes I actually desire… Come to think of it, I’d gladly take on the same mentality had I been born any other way.

Bored, uneducated, homeless — em dashes are my specialty. I write what I see, think, and feel. That’s it.

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