I have three reactions when someone says I’m attractive

frttyldldAre you hot? Handsome? Symmetrical? Sexy? Who knows?

Other people know. They’ll tell you. They’ll look at you and their eyes will show what they’re feeling. They’ll text you, they’ll wolf-whistle you, they’ll whisper it in your ear.

For some people, this is how they find out whether they’re attractive: by waiting for others to make the judgement. And even then, they may not believe what they’re told.

But some of us decide ourselves whether we’re good-looking. We just decide one day: you know what, I’m alright. I’m at least 82% of the way I’d like to be, and that’s enough. If that guy doesn’t find me attractive, it’s his loss; someone else will. This is how I feel, aged 31, having spread out most of my teenage puppy fat and having resigned myself to the fact that unless I do crunches I’m not going to have a totally flat stomach with pecs (I choose books over crunches).

Still… how do I feel when someone says I’m attractive? My friend asked me that recently, and I came up with three answers. Here they are. I said it first depends on the person doing the flattering, and the circumstances.

  1. If it’s a guy who I find attractive, I’ll feel pleased with him saying I’m fit. It’s not that it will make me feel better (I’m already happy with my 82%, remember). But what it does make me feel is promise. We both find each other attractive, so there’s the chance, probably slim, that we might be able to snog. Or maybe more. So I have a simple reaction to a fit guy calling me fit: “Let’s hang out?”
  2. If it’s a guy who I don’t find attractive, I’ll feel no different about myself (still 82% loving it!), but I will feel pleased for him. It’s lovely that I’m the source of his pleasure, even if it’s just a simple, unreciprocated visual pleasure that he gets from looking at me. I love looking at people who I find beautiful. You know the feeling: you can’t take your eyes off them, but you’re in KFC and it’s weird to stare too long at anything other than the menu board. So my reaction to this kind of compliment is: “Close, mate, but not close enough.”
  3. This is the most common way that a person says I’m attractive. It’s when a person compliments you on your look. It’s a colleague who says, “Oooh, you got a hair cut, that’s nice.” Or your sister who says “I like you in that shirt”. Or your gay friend who says “I do think you’re hot, I don’t wanna shag you, because it’s you, but other guys will. Love you!” These sorts of compliments always take me by surprise because they’re always so incidental to everything else that’s going on. They sorta don’t really mean anything. Unlike Type 1 (above), Type 3 is completely useless to me. I mean, it’s nice—but I don’t really receive as anything. I’m already at 82%! I’m good. I’m sorted. I’ll find someone to do Type 1 with.

What do you think? Are there any more ways?

How’s your love life? (Ahem, I mean your sex life)

It’s lovely when a person asks how you’re feeling. They’re interested. They’re checking up on you. They’re ready to help if you need it. But there’s one question I find hard to hear: “How’s your love life?”

I usually fudge an answer. I’m polite about it. Rarely am I honest when I reply. But this is a blog, and I can be honest here. So here’s my uncensored response to that question:

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Does the Boris Johnson and Donald Trump mural rely on our distaste of men kissing?

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 07.49.22If you haven’t seen this photo yet, here you go. It depicts a mural that appeared in Bristol this weekend, in which the stomping anti-Brussels brigadier Boris Johnson snogs America’s orange-faced Donald Trump. The presidential wannabe grabs Boris at the back of the head in one of those passionate he-really-wants-me moments.

The point of the mural is to deter voters from opting to follow Boris out of the EU in our referendum on June 23rd. The mural says: you probably think Trump is a bit of a fart, so if you do, don’t give your support to Boris and the Vote Leave campaign because it will only strengthen the connection between these two. This connection is embodied in that lip-sucking snog we see so beautifully brought to life in luscious pinks and oranges.

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A letter to Kevin because he’s worried about his body

This post was first published on May I Love My Body.

Dear little Kevin,

Take a breath. It’s OK. You’re OK. It’s just puppy fat.

I know you’re confused and disappointed. What you see when you look down isn’t what you’d choose. You’d choose what the other boys have. Flat stomachs and torsos. You might not want pecs or a six pack, but you definitely don’t want flabby boy-breasts. You don’t want a round belly. You’d be happier if your stomach was smooth all the way down, like you’ve seen on the other boys when you all change for your swimming lesson. What James Halton from the other class has is perfect. You wonder why you can’t have the same.

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What I’ve learnt since Being a Man at Southbank Centre

A lot has changed for me in the last eighteen months. I’ve had to take control of my nose hair and I’ve had way more sex than before. These things may or may not be connected to each other or to the Southbank Centre’s inaugural Being a Man festival, 31 January to 2 February 2014. On Saturday I’m going to a planning session at the Southbank for the next festival, due for November. I blogged about earlier ideas here. In the meantime I thought I’d recap a few things that are not to do with nose hair but ARE to do with blokes and have happened to me since the last Being a Man. Continue reading

Do We Need Real Men?

Insightful and similar post to my recent guest post on The F Word.

quiteirregular

Being a man is a fraught business.  Every day we are offered advice on how to be a man, via movies, newspaper columns, adverts and sports shows. And being a man is apparently not enough, you need to make sure you’re a real man.  From the 1980s satire of Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche to the checklist anxiety of “Being A Man The Wall Street Way”, we’re encouraged to aspire to this category of “real man”.  Our society has very particular notions of what being a real man involves, and when you say them out loud they tend to veer from a bit shabby to pretty repulsive.  Have plenty of money.  Don’t care too much about things.  Wear a suit.  Make sure other people know they can’t mess with you.  Don’t do anything which could be described as “girly”.  Or “gay”.  Or “beta”.  Or “soppy”.

Prefer beer to…

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