I’ve had plenty of boyfriends in my life, and in every relationship I was known as the “ugly one.” I’ll make him laugh and treat him well, which is my calling card, while he lures me in with his attractiveness and humility. I used to pretend not to care that the world saw me as the ugly one, because, after all, I was the one who had the man. Still, as time went on I couldn’t help but let their opinions and ideas affect my self-esteem. Even though I’d won, there was a consistent pressure to not only keep him, but to prove to the world why I was worth having him.
There is a sad realization most of us get sooner rather than later:
Looks ARE everything.
It doesn’t matter what your age, orientation or gender, human beings thrive on beauty and youth, but gay men especially turn it into a form of currency. We let it decide our fate even after we’ve fallen in love. Though our man tells us repeatedly how gorgeous we are, the world’s perception withstands the test of time. It never leaves us.
No matter how old we get, there’s always going to be a high school teenager inside us. We judge, compare, associate, misconceive, pressure, instigate, compete, envy and taunt those in order to survive the hell inside our heads. There’s no better example of human psychology than a high school cafeteria. It’s where we learn how to treat others because it’s the age when we’re the most vulnerable. If we’re popular, we fight all our lives to try and keep it that way. If we’re outcasts, we, again, fight all our lives to prove our worth. Either way we’re trying to show how valuable we can be. But if we can’t get approval from our appearance, chances are we’ll never get past first base.
It makes me laugh when gay guys proclaim that looks don’t matter. I’ve come to realize after years of researching the topic that it’s impossible not to associate feelings, ideas, and impressions from another man’s appearance. It’s biological and physiological. Our brain receives messages every second on how we should think about things, including people; most of it is rooted by physical appearance. We can’t help it. Though the idea seems noble, it’s just not how we’re built. Everyone judges based on how they interpret the visual, but the direction in which we judge is rooted from how we’re trained to perceive ourselves. Rising above shallow habits is the real challenge.
Love is one of life’s most precious gifts. It has the power to blind our inhibitions, but in order to get there we need to see past the veil of artificiality, which we’re trained to worship from birth. It’s difficult breaking a lifelong habit, especially when you surround yourself with people who take pride in it. Our friends supply vast amounts of mental fuel that can either speed or stall our progress. How many times have you met a guy you really like only to change your mind after your friend disapproves of him?
Learning how to think for yourself starts with how you feel about yourself. We all have the power to see past the visual and go straight to the heart. Whether you’re considered the “ugly” one or not, there comes a time when you need to realize this label isn’t placed by the world, but by you. You are your own worst critic when it comes to self-judgment because in order to make an assessment on ourselves, we have to first look at how we’re perceived. That’s where we get self-esteem.
While it’s important to have self-esteem, what we ought to be striving for is esteem. What do we think about ourselves? How content are we within the structure of our lives? How can we maneuver our way into a space where we’re most comfortable? All the answers lie directly in front of us as soon as we decide to focus on it. I guarantee that when you’re willing to look inside yourself, you’ll see how pointless it is to let other people’s insecurities rule your happiness. Looks might matter, but trust me when I say that looks are the result of how we feel within our own minds. If you feel good, everyone will be beautiful. Including yourself.