20-Something, Fashion/Design, Hipstercrite Life, Pop Culture

What is Beauty?

The other night I ran into a friend at a popular bar on the east side of Austin. Like many east sides of major cities, the neighborhood is where a number of artsy and irreverent kids hang out. And by artsy and irreverent I mean don’t have jobs. The friend was describing to me how difficult it often is to frequent such scenes where every single girl is particularly hip and beautiful looking. They’re the sort of women that could make one feel conscious of their subconscious need to up the ante. Their eyes couldn’t be any doe-ier, their noses any smaller, or their body fat any less a negative number. They look like Kate Moss circa 1993 and they know it. You in turn pout your lips a little further out, turn your toes in a little more in attempt to beat out their Lookbook go-to stance, and walk across the bar as though floating in slow-motion through your own personal music video when seeing these sort of girls.

In other words, it’s one giant contest of who is the most noticeable.

Though this wasn’t the exact verbiage used by my friend, I understood what she was hinting at but I plainly told her that I didn’t agree.

Having lived in Los Angeles I encountered a lot of beautiful people. After moving to Texas I saw even more. I know this because the type of people that frequent the Los Angeles Whole Foods and the Austin Whole Foods are about on par. If there is anything that I’ve learned in my obviously very wise 27 years on this planet, it’s that aesthetic beauty has absolutely nothing on self-confidence and character in terms of attractiveness. In other words, if you don’t have the stuff to back it up, then who really cares? Sure looking like the physical manifestation mash-up of glorious mountaintops, ocean sunsets, and God’s luxurious long locks will get you noticed and a few foots in the door, but ultimately having self-assurance will take you through the door, down the hallway, and hopefully to another door that has something really f’ing cool in it.

Let’s check out Prince as an example, shall we? That mother-fucker is tiny. He’s as wee as a shrinky-dink in the hot summer sun. But that dude got cooter. Heaping loads of it. I’m sure that little man couldn’t stay afloat in all the female anatomy chucked his way by the minute. So how is it that a really minuscule man-child with a ratstache and a torso as compact as a chicken nugget get so many ladies? Because Prince oozed confidence. Prince is and always has been one giant Jell-o mold of certainty in himself. You know what Prince said once? Prince said (in a very low voice, much lower than you’d expect for a man who has perfected the “cat eye” eyeliner), “Cool means being able to hang with yourself. All you have to ask yourself is, “Is there anybody that I’m afraid of? Is there anybody who if I walked into a room and saw, I’d get nervous?” If not, then you’re cool.” What I’ve interpreted Prince as saying is that he can hang in the corner by himself, let some of his pubes air out, smirk at nothing in particular, moan while rubbing his butt against the wall like a dog with a plugged sphincter muscle and then walk away without feeling the slightest bit self-conscious.

And this is why Prince continues to win over male and female fans generation after generation.

Besides purple dwarf, my heroes have always been the ladies who bended the boundaries of conventional beauty. Katherine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli- all women who made attractiveness a multi-layered perception. Throw symmetrical faces and chiseled frames to the wind. Dressing however you want to and owning it, dressing outside of your gender, being skilled, being an expert in a craft, knowing what the hell you’re talking about- that is allure.

Now getting back to the conversation I had with my friend at the bar: knowing how to pose for the camera by cocking your head ever-so-slightly and looking bored is not alluring. Combing you hair over your eyes, not smiling, and discussing the only two topics that you currently are interested in- boys and yourself- is not alluring. Not concerning yourself with anything outside your ambivalent bubble is… not…attractive.

It’s not what you wear or how you look that sets you apart, it’s knowing who you are and believing it that does.

Interesting Read- What Really Makes Women Attractive? Huffington Post
What do you think is the most attractive trait in a man or woman? Does confidence turn you on or off?
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  • Reply Claire December 9, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    turn ON… and i feel like my confidence is one of the few things that attracts the opposite sex to me.

  • Reply Edgar December 9, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Agreed. Although it can be difficult for a guy to navigate the line between being confident and self-assured and just being cocky.

  • Reply Jessica December 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    Confidence is good. Need to get me some more.

  • Reply magnolia*mama December 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    You hit the proverbial nail on the head. I am always trying to convince my (mostly) female friends that if they stopped worrying about their hair and thighs for ten seconds and smiled with their heads up when entering a room they'd feel the rush!! Not that I am impervious to worrying about my thighs, but man, you gotta fake it if you don't feel it.

    on that note I also argue that faking confidence works the same as having confidence. Insecurity is human nature, but so are a lot of things we should ignore 🙂

  • Reply girluntitled December 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    there's this one girl i've known my whole life, and although at first glance she might look as appealing as a piece of melba toast, she is absolutely beautiful. i don't think i've ever heard her talk about anyone else in a negative way (including herself); she has a permanent smile on her face and she has always made everyone feel appreciated and accepted. to me that's real beauty: being content.

  • Reply KeLLy aNN December 9, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I WAS the weird one, before Latino/Mediterranean became so hot {of course, now that I'm old}.
    I grew up in a time when Farrah Fawcett was the hot one, with her glorious feathered hair and nippled bathing suit poster {which I owned, hookers}

    but I had loads of Personality,
    and I always tried to look my best
    and that went a LONG way.
    cause I felt good about My Self.

  • Reply Hipstercrite December 9, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    @Claire- I agree.

    @Edgar- Excellent point. That can happen for girls too. There is a fine line, but I think people can tell when it's genuine and when it's forced/insecurity.

    @Jessica- You should have loads, lady!

    @Mama- I would be hypocrite if I didn't say I compare myself to others- we all do- but I don't let it change who I am. I don't try to adapt towards others. No one should. Everyone should embrace their individuality.

    @Girl- Awww….that was so nice to read! I love people who smile. People who just get stoked about everything. They're the sort of people I like to be around.

    @Kelly Ann- What a lovely and exotic mix! I was the weird one in high school. I thought people didn't like me. Now that I'm older, people that I went to high school with say, "We thought you were so different and cool!" and I think, "Yeah? Why didn't you act that way around me? Because of you I have a big ol' chip on my shoulder!"

  • Reply Brooke Farmer December 9, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I love this post! Even more than the confidence point- which is HUGE- I love the part about knowing yourself. So few people really do. I am still working on it, but getting closer every day. But a man who knows who he is, what he wants, is living the life he believes in- so, so, so hot.

  • Reply ISRAEL CARRASCO December 9, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    I think you tuched on a key point about confidence being an intergral part of attractiveness. I don't know if it's a "girl" thing but guys dont do that, They dont try to measure up against other men prob. because we think so highly of ourselves that competition couldn't exist could it?

  • Reply j.m. neeb December 9, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Confidence = turn on. Over-confidence, though, doesn't do it for me. It has to be simple and understated confidence, not "let the whole room know that I think I am all that and the bag of chips."

    Note: It hope it doesn't sound like I'm bitter towards anyone with that attitude, because I'm not. I just find it particularly unappealing.

    What is the deal with the east sides of all cities being cool? I mean, I completely understand, but how did that whole situation come to be?

    Great post, by the way.

  • Reply Sassy Stylings December 9, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    GREAT post. With such an ardent focus in today's society on external beauty, it's refreshing to read something pointing in the other direction.

    "Pretty" wears off if that's all you've got, and like Mr. Big said in Season 1 of Sex and the City (slightly paraphrasing as it's from memory): "In the end, you just want to be with the one who makes you laugh."

  • Reply todd December 9, 2010 at 9:25 pm

    I think this is related to the "girls always go for the assholes" kvetch we hear so often.

    It has to do with confidence. The asshole oozes what is perceived as confidence. He knows what he wants and he goes after it. No apologies. Some see this as sociopathic or an act that masks deeper insecurities and they may be right. In these cases, what is perceived is more important than what is real. Perhaps this is why as women get older, many get over this attraction to assholes (because they have learned to see through the act).

  • Reply M December 9, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    I always say to my friends, "It's not about the pretty." It's hard to internalize that when the girls you see are so gorgeous they make you feel like a tree stump, but I do try to remember that I am a pretty cool chick, too. Having worked as an actor for most of my life, and met *a lot* of physically perfect specimens, I agree wholeheartedly with you, Lauren, that it's the self-confidence that counts. And it's not about arrogance, because cocky a-holes need not apply. It's about knowing yourself and liking yourself, and being happy with your life (as much as you can be). Those are the people that walk into the room, make everyone notice and more importantly, keep their interest. Hear, hear. Great post!

  • Reply Hipstercrite December 9, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    @Brooke- I think it's a never-ending education in finding oneself, but man oh man, you're right… there is NOTHING sexier than a dude who knows himself. And not in a cocky insecure way.

    @Israel- Hahaha! That comment made me laugh out loud.

    @J.M.- I completely agree. There is a fine line between confident and cocky. You can see through an insecure, cocky person in a heartbeat. Doesn't mean I still don't buy it sometimes…;)
    Because eastside is typically where the culture is at!

    @Sassy- I think I need to watch more "Sex in the City". I used to knock it but appears there is some valuable advice on there sometimes…

    @Todd- I could write a whole 'nother post on that subject…

    @M- Yes, yes, yes! There is just something that radiates from within those people and stirs something in the subconscious of others…

  • Reply theTsaritsa December 9, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    I was just talking about self-confidence last night. Confidence can turn a six into a ten. If you act like you own the place and don't give a fuck what other people think, I think that's cool.

    People are much more responsive to someone who is comfortable with themself than someone who is too busy over-analyzing any little glance that comes their way.

  • Reply Johanna December 10, 2010 at 12:58 am

    Confidence comes with knowing yourself, which usually comes with age and life experience. Lets face it, it takes a long time (your 20's) to get over the awkward phase you went through in your pre-teen years.

    I really didn't like the way I look until about 30. I accept me now. Now if I could only stay in my 30's.

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