If we’re ignored or told that we’re not beautiful long enough, we begin to believe it. The Ugly Duckling Syndrome kicks in and we find ourselves feeling unworthy of anyone’s appreciation, attention, or love.
But in most cases, we all experience someone who is brave enough to force us to rethink our own ideas of beauty, starting with ourselves.
And as Martin reveals, there’s nothing more life-changing than seeing yourself through the eyes of someone else, and to know that you are a work of art to be marveled–a Mona Lisa. Then, the real hard work begins: being brave enough to see and believe it yourself.
When it comes to being attracted to someone, relatability is important. Knowing that the person in front of me gets the struggle of being in a world that tells you that you don’t fit Eurocentric standards of not just beauty but way of being.
For me, being gay and attracted is emotional first, intellectual second, and physical third. As men, wherever you fall on the Kenzi scale, we are traditionally known to be primarily attracted to the visual, but that’s not the case for me. To me, beautiful men are a dime a dozen, physically speaking. A person has to strike me in a way and what really gets me is when we converse. That’s when there’s a certain spark or something that permeates, incites an emotional reaction.
I don’t know where I fit when it comes to my idea of beauty. Half of the time it is a struggle. I’m doing better–I swear I am–and I’m not as self-deprecating as I used to be, but sometimes all I can see are my imperfections or the things on me that I don’t think are good enough.
I don’t know where I fit on the spectrum of beauty, though. I grew up as the awkward kid, overly talkative but painfully shy. I would try to express myself, but I would always do it in the wrong way, as too much or more exaggerated. I was a nerd and used to be very thin–5’10 and 130 pounds, soaking wet.
I never saw myself as attractive or beautiful. That’s been hard to see. Sometimes, I’ll be out with friends and in any social context where boys are around, and they will say, “That group of guys is checking you out.” And I’d respond, “What are you talking about?” I was oblivious to it. I tell everybody, if a guy likes me, he has to literally spell it out for me, saying that he does. I’m not used to being noticed.
I don’t know where I fit when it comes to my idea of beauty. Half of the time it is a struggle. I’m doing better–I swear I am–and I’m not as self-deprecating as I used to be, but it is a constant struggle because all I can see are my imperfections or the things on me that I don’t think are good enough. There’s always this narrative in my head that no one will love me because of these flaws. It isn’t limited to the physical. Sometimes I’ll think no one will ever love me because I’m not smart enough, not cultured enough, and haven’t read certain types of books and there’s important things I might not know.
For the longest time, my relationship with men has been one of abandonment. My father died when I was younger. My oldest brother was dealing with his own things, which made took him in and out of my life. He had to take over for our father, but he’s been fighting his own demons. So, I’ve had to work through a lot of things on my own. And that’s where the idea no one will ever love me or stick around because I’m not good enough stems from.
Finally, he said, “Shut up. I’m just admiring you. You’re like a work of art. Wow.” He looked at me as if I were the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or the portrait of Mona Lisa. It was so weird because I’m not used to being noticed. But he actually really saw me. Now, I’m trying to see it for myself–see the me that he saw.
But I refuse to surrender to that feeling or those thoughts, so I started seeing a therapist in 2009 and I also work a 12-step program for sex, love, and fantasy addicts. I started seeing a therapist starting 2009 and then worked with them. It’s in a similar format as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), but is more like emotions anonymous. I have a sponsor I meet with regularly. The goal is to always be able to work through everything that occurs in my life using a fine-tooth comb of objectivity. It’s important for me to do this because I know I’m capable of so much more, but somewhere along the way I’ve become very self-destructive. I’ve been working against that so I can see things through, which allows me to achieve more.
Slowly but surely, I’ve been trying to come to terms with embracing my own beauty. For example, when I was with my ex partner, we were in a long distance relationship, and I was living in Vegas at the time. We met up for New Year’s 2012 into ‘13 and during our time together we were being really intimate. He had his hands around the small of waist and he was just looking at me. I asked, “What is it?” And he had this look of awe on his face. He just kept looking at me up and down. I kept asking what it was he wasn’t looking at. I didn’t understand it. Finally, he said, “Shut up. I’m just admiring you. You’re like a work of art. Wow.”
He looked at me as if I were the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or the portrait of Mona Lisa. In his eyes, I was this work of art. For me, it was so weird because I’m not used to being noticed. But he actually really saw me. I remember it feeling strange yet so refreshing and liberating. Secretly, I always wanted to be noticed, understood. And in that moment, he really saw me for who I was. Now, I’m trying to see it for myself–see the me that he saw. I’m working to hopefully keep that image in my mind, especially when I have dark moments as a reminder of why those thoughts are lying and far from the truth.