When I was younger (junior high, high school, early twenties), all I longed for was to be “pretty”. I wanted boys to like me and find me desirable and wanted girls to compare themselves to me in the same way I compared myself to them. The overarching goal throughout adolescence is to be accepted and my teenage brain suspected that the quickest path to acceptance was appearance.
Of course, to some extent, the desire to be desired is normal, but my longing bordered on obsession, so much so that I went to extreme measures to achieve my goal – see “A $30,000 Lesson in Self-Worth”.
My unsure, confused and just plain ol’ naive mindset was something along the lines of: become super hot, attract an awesome husband, have kids, do yoga, Pilates and brunch with my girlfriends when I wasn’t busing raising said kids, and just live my best life all around. Not having done much soul-searching, dumbfounded by the conflicting messages fed to me throughout my teenage years, and without a firm grasp on who I was, it was only too easy for me to throw my dad’s “it’s what on the inside that counts” mantra out the window, and devote all my attention on achieving the physical perfection I craved.
Fast forward a few years and for the purpose of my point, let’s just go ahead and say that I have, speaking in broad and general terms, achieved my exterior goal. I am, by societal standards “pretty”. Nothing spectacular, but I fixed my slightly too large nose, got breast implants, molded my body, etc etc etc, all to conform to the warped, twisted perception of what female beauty is and should be. Looking back, however, it is crystal clear to me that my physical evolution was a slippery slope. I suppose similar to any kind of obsession, when I fixated on my appearance, it became all too easy to zero in on my perceived “flaws”. I saw problems that no one else saw, focused on “imperfections” that were actually features that made me unique, and with all my energy siloed in to just one tiny piece of the puzzle that made me “me”, for a few years, I lost sight of so many other things.
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you have an idea that I have fortunately smartened up in the years since I was an appearance-obsessed freak who had no fun and didn’t live life at all. But the value so many of us place on the outside is a topic that fascinates me, and I’d I’d be lying to you if I were to tell you that I didn’t still sometimes pick myself apart, or allow myself to become momentarily seduced by all the things constantly shoved down the throats of promising to make us “more beautiful”.
Now, more than ever, image seems to be everything. And while I can respect that to some extent, I believe that falling to far down that rabbit hole, placing an inappropriate amount of weight on the importance of what you look like can distract you from uncovering other, more significant aspects of your being.
I recently got into a conversation with someone about the world of escorting, sugar babies and basically just making sexual appeal your main form of obtaining material things, making an income an/or maintaining a certain lifestyle. He asked whether it was something I had or would ever consider. I couldn’t say that it had never crossed my mind – we all see the women (and men, but to a lesser extent), jetting off to exotic places on the weekends, flaunting designer shoes and bags, living the high life, seemingly without a care in the world, and it’s easy to let your mind wander – could I do that?
The short answer is fuck no. First and foremost, my mental state and mindset simply couldn’t cope with the knowledge that these men were only assesing my value based on my looks and how advanced my sexual prowess was. That would drive me Fucking. Crazy. And let’s be honest here, I would without question, shoot my escorting career in the foot by talking too much, trying to engage them in a deep “serious talk” (my specialty, but also not exactly the hugest turn on, apparently), cracking too many jokes to try and show them how hilarious I am, or simply being by being myself – weird, chatty, slightly annoying and an open book. Mysterious, sexy, seductress? Not exactly. Most likely to get my shirt stuck on my head when trying to remove it when I’m about to get down?
Secondly, I know there is no way I could trick myself into believing it was all real, or that I deserved it. I value hard work and dedication – shortcuts are great, from time to time, but it would hard for me to accept myself knowing I was not living up to my potential
On the other end of the spectrum, the culturally relevant and topical “Instagram model”. While she isn’t selling her body for sexual experiences, she is consciously or not, communicating to the world that her main ware or offering is her appearance. Most popular Instagram influencers have caught the attention of the social media community by posting attractive (whether sexual or otherwise) photos of themselves, built a following based around those photos, and eventually are able to earn an income based on their ability to leave an impression upon their audience. Suggestive imagery in the same of marketing is nothing new, but when the product you are selling is yourself, the stakes seem a little bit higher. What would happen if they stopped posting all those beautiful, seductive, completely-real-and-not-at-all-edited selfies? If they leaned only upon using themselves and their brand as their only form of income, then they might find themselves in a little bit of financial trouble down the road.
Both of these scenarios, along with my young mindset have one thing in common: allowing physical appearance to become a major stakeholder in numerous sectors of life . As you move along in life, it is inevitable that you begin to become aware of what defines you and what specific values you offer the world. If you are consistently being reminded that your value is based primarily on what you look like, eventually, you’re going to believe it. Men flock to you because you’re “sexy”, shower you with gifts and attention, women are envious of you because from the outside looking in, you have it all, but inside will be empty and unfulfilled. When your looks began to fade, you’d have little to fall back on.
Beyond that, what happens when the man who is with you largely because you are “hot” decides that the newness has worn off, you aren’t sexually exciting enough for him anymore, he’s “been there, had that” for long enough? What happens when you’re tossed aside because your novelty has just plain worn off? Think about it – it is almost impossible to maintain an air of mystery, of allure, of seduction for an extended period of time. If your sole purpose in his life is excitement, sex and fun and his sole purpose in your life is financial security, eventually, your largely static offering is going to lose it’s appeal and thus, you are going to lose your main form of income.
Sex appeal is a depreciating asset, and my “investment” in my exterior was, quite honestly, a foolish one, with shitty ROI.
Interestingly enough, all my healthiest, happiest relationships occurred prior to me reaching my physical goal. Those relationships perhaps began based on physical attraction, but they certainly weren’t based on it. I wasn’t “perfect” physically as I aspired to be, but that didn’t matter to them. Although attraction is often what draws us in initially, who we are as people, our personalities, our unique characteristics is what keeps our partners there over an extended period of time.
Social skills, talents, ability to have a conversation, sense of humour… all are attributes that, in my opinion, increase the “attractiveness” of a person. Spending 99% of your efforts on superficial things leaves you with minimal time to nurture and evolve other, more meaningful characteristics.
But, many argue, why not use your “feminine wiles” to get you ahead? Why not use your God (or plastic surgeon) given assets to get a leg up and charge ahead in life. Women are (arguably) still not 100% “equal” to men, at least when it comes to income. The gender pay gap is still a very real thing – globally, women earn on average 23% less than men in the same role – so perhaps using our “soft” skills to even the playing field is a completely fair move.
I actually agree that it is completely acceptable to so, and women who want to do that, should, based on a few important factors: you are comfortable doing so, have identified and honed your other skills and talents, and are confident in areas beyond just your physical appearance. Trust me when I say, we all have so much more to offer the world than sex.
Let me just be clear: if you have established your self worth, wrangled you sexual power and are confident and firm in knowing who you are and what your value is beyond just the exterior, and still choose to use those attributes to your benefit, do it up. If your foundation is solidly set, it won’t matter when your “erotic capital” stock plummets, because you will have other facets that make up who you are to fall back on. You won’t be left in the dust, simply because you aren’t as young and shiny as you once were. While I am all for playing up your “ass-ets”, putting all your eggs in that basket doesn’t seem like the safest bet.
The one thing I know for sure is that at some point I’m not going to be so easy on the eyes and that extra five (or 15) pounds will probably creep up on me. Either way, I’m still going to be compassionate, smart and funny AF, so I’m going to continue to focus on developing those assets. Fun fact: Megan Fox is worth $8 million, while Kristin Wiig is worth $20 million, and I’d WAY rather hang with Kristin. You?