There are so many different interpretations and standards of beauty. We see them everywhere on social media, TV, and in magazines.

But which one is correct? To be honest, that’s a trick question.

And as Marrion explains, although there are so many different interpretations of what’s beautiful and what’s not, the only definition that should matter is your own.

I would define a beautiful man based on the physical and emotional. On one hand, he has great posture, is clean shaven, and has facial features that are nontraditional. The completely symmetrical look with European features, I’m not here for that. I find the quirky physical characteristic that people deem as ugly: moles, freckles, unibrows, brown skin, full hair.

Emotionally, he is someone who is kind, which I feel is underrated. He’s a sensitive  independent thinker who’s willing to embrace his feelings and express them. As men we’re not taught to be reflective. We’re taught to think that eventually, when we have our castle or home, that our word is the law. But people who are considerate don’t domineer in that way. Even if they are the boss, they value all opinions, and not just because it’s an opinion of another man who is stronger, richer, and more powerful. He believes all opinions are valid and worthy of hearing out.

Considering all of the things I’ve listed, I do believe I fit my own definition of beautiful.  But it is a struggle for me because I don’t think I’m traditionally physically beautiful. And because of that, I have always worked hard to stand out in other ways, which is why I’ve given less weight to it. When it comes to my beauty,  I don’t think about it very much or concern myself with whether others think I’m beautiful. Part of it is because I’ve always accepted that I wasn’t. But if I’m really honest about expanding what beauty is, yes, I think I’m beautiful. Well, a beautiful person.

To be honest, all I ever really strove for was being cute. I felt that if I could get to cute I could work from there.

It has been a difficult journey because I don’t have a very symmetrical face. Colorism is real in black culture, but from colorism, we get people’s perceptions on anything black, and not just your skin. If you have black features, like a broad nose, thick lips, big cheeks, forehead and nappy hair, but that’s not what has been accepted as beautiful. And I have a lot of those things, so that’s why I don’t feel I’ve always fit that definition. However, I never thought I was ugly; I just thought that I could get by. I was never one of those people who was always coveted in the classroom.

The first time I really remember someone calling me attractive was when I was 17 and I had my own car. I was driving my best friend home. He is really good looking and has always been the one everyone loves. On this particular day, I bought this cool jacket.  When he saw me in it, he said that I was really cute. But not in a condescending or make-you-feel-better kind of way, in a way that meant he really saw me.

To be honest, all I ever really strove for was being cute. I felt that if I could get to cute I could work from there. In that moment, I asked myself, “Am I really cute?” I always thought I was, but the fact that someone that was always considered beautiful  said I was meant a lot.

Only up until recently have I really embraced my own attractiveness, though. I held on to that memory of my best friend calling me cute. It gave me confidence, but it also made me think I had to have all of certain boxes checked to be considered attractive: I couldn’t just roll out of the bed and go to the corner store.

I needed to have a haircut, the right outfit, etc. That was all required. But now, as I get older and become more confident in knowing that I have a lot to offer and knowing that I have grown into a look that works for me, it’s not a difficult thing. I no longer rely on other people to validate me. I’ve let that go.

A couple of years ago, I spent some time in Spain. When I was there, I expected to be fetishized and to be wanted. But I still felt the awkwardness because it felt just the same as being in white spaces where the same traditions of beauty reigned: the European features. In that space, I felt just cute enough and that I couldn’t approach anyone.

But since that experience, my perception of beauty has grown so much. Now, I truly believe your beauty is a combination of the physical and emotional. And when I look back on those pictures from those times, I now say,  “I would feel zero fucks about how anyone else thought about how I looked.” Being surrounded by traditionally attractive people, I don’t need them to make me feel beautiful.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how beautiful you are. If you are a horrible person, I’m not gonna fuck with you, and if I’m a horrible person, you shouldn’t fuck with me.

For a while, my own relationship with beauty affected the people I pursued because I would only go after people who I thought were equal to my level of attractiveness or a little above. I would never even ask out someone who was really, really good looking. I thought of it as an obvious no-no—it was never going to happen. And when I think back to a relationship with a guy I considered to be really attractive, I realize that I let him run over me because I didn’t know my value. I felt like I wasn’t going to get any better than him, and I made myself believe I had to accept the way he treated me. In that relationship, I tolerated a lot.

He  was very much domineering and would only allow us to go out when he wanted to or do things when he wanted to do them. When he was excited, I felt loved. And when he wasn’t, I felt dismissed. Part of why I accepted that was because I wanted it to work because it was so hard to be in a relationship. I was willing to do everything I could to hold on to it, and him. But when I think back on that experience, I wish I was more vocal and adamant about what I’m was and wasn’t willing to accept.  I saw him as the catch, not me. But now I know I’m a great catch, too.

In the end, it doesn’t matter how beautiful you are. If you are a horrible person, I’m not gonna fuck with you, and if I’m a horrible person, you shouldn’t fuck with me.