As a blogger you are always writing posts which fall somewhere on a spectrum of how well they’ll be received. On one end are posts you know will do well, because perhaps they’re funny or poignant or responding with a new take on the events of the day. On the other end are posts which you know will be controversial.
This post is the latter.
I could caveat it heavily, interspersing every sentence with nuance and explanations and rationales and still I know I’ll receive plenty of outrage for it, but I feel a sense of duty to be honest in my process and, well, call out something that a lot of people I’ve spoken with directly believe but never feel confident enough to say. So here goes.
There. I’ve said it. And I know exactly the response of a large number of readers and followers. “What?! Of course they don’t matter, it’s what’s inside that counts!!!”, “I don’t care about looks as long as they are a kind and decent human being!”, or “Looks fade but personality lasts”. I fully expect to see a lot of angry tweets or comments left below, all of which will be sent with the very best of intentions and many of which will be sent without a hint of understanding about my actual point.
You see, at no point am I saying that only those perceived as “conventionally beautiful/handsome” deserve happiness. I’m not saying those people are any better or different to anyone else. I’m not saying those people are the only ones who will find love, nor that they will never be lonely. I’m not saying that if you’re not one of those people you’ll end up single and alone, and I’m not saying that you are not attractive.
Attractiveness is made up of so many different factors that it’s impossible to nail down. If fat, ugly people were never found attractive then Ron Jeremy would never have found success (if you don’t know who that is, google him. While in the office. With the sound on.).
And yes, I did say fat and ugly. Call it what you want, some people are fat. Often these people will be the first to admit it. Fat isn’t always morbidly obese, for some people it can mean simply overweight by the levels that the NHS has deemed a “healthy” weight for a person (whether or not that’s a good measure). It can also mean being fatter than a person wants to be. Or perhaps someone wants to be that weight and is perfectly comfortable with it. It is not saying fat=bad/skinny=good. It is saying fat=fat. Almost every member of my family self-describes as fat; not all want to be any different from what they are, and not all of them are doing anything to change their weight or body shapes.
And some people are ugly. Ugly, that is, by conventional standards of physical beauty. It is all massively subjective, and what one person finds beautiful can vary wildly from another person. Some like people taller than them, some shorter, some like blondes, brunettes or redheads. Some like an hourglass figure, whilst others prefer a burly rugby player. Some find delicate facial features hot, others don’t.
People often get abused as soon as they say they want someone who looks a certain way when in reality they absolutely shouldn’t. We all have our ideal partner in our mind, and a fair degree of that is how they look. We are often pretty flexible when it comes down to it, and most people wouldn’t turn someone down if they were almost perfect but had the “wrong” colour eyes, but we all have a starting point in mind that we shouldn’t be made to feel bad about having.
I know, I know; not all women, not all men and inevitably not you as an example individual. But it’s common to get abuse if you say that a certain body type is what you find attractive, especially if that body type happens to be what most of society (or at least the mainstream media) also deems attractive. To believe that most other people in the world, to a greater or lesser extent, and not you in particular as an individual, do not have a “type” of partner in mind as their ideal is either naive or is basic denial.
That isn’t to defend those who say that a certain body shape, weight, height or looks will never be attractive. Those people can get in the sea. No-one can say a person is unattractive full stop based on these things, only that they themselves are not attracted to them. The majority of people may agree with them to a greater or lesser degree, but not everyone. There are things I think make someone more or less attractive to me, but I have no right to say that someone is objectively unattractive to everyone as I am not everyone.
I know what my own personal ideal woman is physically like. Some things I care about – ideally she would be relatively slender (UK size 8-12 I would guess), would have an hourglass figure, an ample chest and long legs. She would be somewhere between 5′ and 5′ 9″, and would have a smile that lit up her face. Other things I care a lot less about – hair colour or style doesn’t matter (though do like long, full hair for some reason), eyes can be anything as long as they smile by default and the rest is all open for exploration.
I’m pretty sure that this outline of a person was put into my mind by years of societal pressure, much of which occured in my formative years as a child and young person. The women I felt pangs of desire for growing up – Princess Leia, Heather Locklear, Penelope Cruz, Kelly Brook and Jet from the Gladiators – all had the same type of body shape and looks without being identical. Society in general deemed these women attractive so put them forward as such, which in turn impressed on my growing mind that this was what was attractive.
As an adult this has evolved, of course. I know good looks fade but personality is for life. I know that attractiveness and sexiness are often totally different from good looks. I know that some very physically appealing people can be horrible on the inside. I know that looks may start the desire for a relationship but personality will sustain it in the long term. I know all of this and more, and base my relationship choices on a balance of everything rather than thinking about who would be the best looking woman in the room.
But for me to say looks don’t matter at all? I’d be lying. For me to claim that I am blind to looks and that I would date anyone and feel attracted to them physically as well as intellectually and emotionally regardless of their looks would not be telling the truth. Some people may well be able to do that; I am yet to meet them. I wish it were different for me as I know I’d have a far wider pool of women to get to know and to date, but it simply isn’t the case.
Does my physically perfect woman exist? Yes, she does. I know that to be the case because I have encountered many women who physically tick every single box for me. Were they the right person for me? No, for a whole range of reasons, be that they were slightly homophobic, were terrible kissers, were incredibly vain and self-centred, weren’t in the right place for a relationship (physically or emotionally) or just plain old didn’t fancy me.
Does that mean I’ll only date women physically perfect for me? Of course not, that would be absurd. Besides the rarity of them wanting to date me at all, let alone a me with children and an inability to create more, finding such women is rare indeed. And there are incredible women out there that I know I would have a strong and healthy relationship who fall outside of these physical parameters, so it would be foolish of me to ever rule anyone out entirely.
Does that mean I’ll be any less happy with whomever I date? No. I will still only date women I’m attracted to, physically as well as intellectually and emotionally, even if they don’t tick every single box on my dream list. I’m certain, after all, that I don’t tick every single box on their own lists. Life and relationships are all about compromise – not settling, but changing expectations and dreams to bring them in line with someone else and create something better together than either of you could create alone.
I won’t apologise for having physical hopes as well as all of the other hopes I have about my dream woman. It would be the same as apologising for having standards when it comes to intellect, or humour, or a spirit of adventure, or sexual compatibility, or wit, or decency, or kindness, or any of the other things that makes someone attractive to me. Some of these things can be controlled and changed, but most can’t, and every single one will go towards how attractive I find another person. Physical attraction is just one of those things.
If it’s acceptable for me to say that – for me and no-one else – I want someone kind, funny, intelligent, confident and adventurous then it’s also acceptable for me to say that I want someone I am physically attracted to. Everything needs to be balanced just right, like the dials on a recording studio mixing desk, and looks are one set of requirements I refuse to ignore.