Physical Appearance & Attraction

By Chloe Fu

What if physical appearance was a non-component of attraction? Where would you want to shift the weight of your assessment?

Let me first start by saying that I am very confident, and comfortable in my skin. Really - If plastic surgery was free, riskless, and no one would find out about it, I’d still change nothing. …actuallyyyy —

wait, no, no, I’d change nothing.

That being said (and without fishing for any contradicting comments), I don’t find myself to be physically attractive. This isn’t to say that this mindset needs to be “fixed”, or that I struggle with self-confidence issues (although I have in the past), but given my blatant physical perception of myself, I just don’t.

In middle school, I spent some time trying to learn how to use makeup – I remember wishing there was some way to look more like the all-American girls I had grown up with in the suburbs off of Washington D.C... No dice.

In high school, I started to be more conscious of the way I looked in clothes. My flat-chested, stick-thin self was so envious of my beautiful friends with great, womanly bodies. I genuinely envisioned my future in a successful career, earning money to get breast implants, and then I’d be happy with how I looked.

And eventually, after putting on my freshman 25 at Penn State (yes, 25 pounds… it was the all-you-can-eat style cafeterias that got me), I was going to the gym all the time so I could “at least try to make up for my face with a great body”...

…but eventually, I realized that these physical things you can only change so much, and began to wonder what I could be in control of to become “more beautiful”.

These thoughts prompted me to ask that first question, and after some self-reflection, I named my answer: “I’d want to be assessed based on my mind”.

There was something about putting my foot down to reapproach how I assessed myself, and determining my self-confidence from there. I ended up in a relationship with a great guy my 2nd year, and he taught me to recognize the strength of the way I think, and how much of a role it could play in attraction. After that relationship ended, I felt so weak after basing this new source of validation so deeply in him. But, after time, I started to really let myself feel beautiful on my own… including the squinty eyes I’ll always have, my many A-cup bras, and all 25 of those freshman 15... and it led me to complete acceptance and comfort with the person I am.

Now I’m in my 4th year, and these days I still put on makeup, wear push-up bras, and workout often, but I don’t mind a day concealer-free, skipping the gym every now and then to have an entire pizza to myself, and I slip into a bikini without hesitation. One of my best friends told me that your attractiveness is heavily impacted by the way you define yourself and your confidence in that definition; if you feel good, you look good.

My point is not to aim to eliminate all insecurities, or to give up the things that make you feel “improved”, the point is to recognize your existing strengths - the ones that matter. Own them, and never become complacent in the self-improvement process; just because you’re incredible today, doesn’t mean you can’t be even better tomorrow.

Written by: Chloe Fu