Dishonest Modesty–I’m So Vain?

I began writing about my views on feminism versus traditionalism a few days ago, but I realized just a paragraph into the writing that I would have to address something in order to fully explore the topic.

I’m an attractive person.  There.  I said it.  And no, I don’t mean that in the love-thyself way they teach you to think in school.  I mean it in a perfectly detached, men-think-I-look-good kind of way.

Off-putting to see me lay it all out like that, though, isn’t it?  I’m trying to figure out why it is exactly that I can brag on my own smarts from time to time, so long as I don’t go overboard, but when I mention my looks someone is always there to knock me down a peg or two.  It’s like it’s a faux pas  to recognize that the opposite sex thinks you’re attractive.  And if you do recognize it, you’re supposed to pretend you don’t.

I call this the Aw Shucks Phenomenon, and it really only ever seems to apply to physical appearance.

Honestly, though, it’s not like I sit around and brag on my looks.  It’s just that sometimes talking about it is pertinent to whatever subject I’m talking about or whatever conversation I’m having; I find it terribly frustrating that sometimes I’m forced to forsake certain points because of this silly taboo about letting on that you’re aware of your appeal to the opposite sex.

Being attractive is sort of like having a talent, like being artistic or smart or good at piano.  It arguably doesn’t take any skill to be attractive, but it certainly works much like talent.

Mostly I just get tired of pretending I’m stupid.  I’m supposed to pretend I don’t see men’s heads turn or that I don’t notice the number of men who ask me out or grant me compliments.  It isn’t vanity that leads to my conclusions that I’m attractive–it’s watching how people react to me.  It’s seeing finely drawn features that are in fashion right now when I look in the mirror.  In short, it’s being the opposite of dumb.  And yes, I’m smart enough to realize that there are men out there thoroughly unimpressed by my looks and who may even consider me plain.  And I know I have large pores and oily skin and huge ugly teeth.  I’m just honest with myself, that’s all.

“Aw, shucks” isn’t part of my vernacular language.  Never will be.

So now that that’s out in the open, can I please get on with discussing it matter-of-factly? ‘Kay, thanks.

PS: I still enjoy receiving compliments.


4 thoughts on “Dishonest Modesty–I’m So Vain?

  1. Let’s try that again.

    I find your honesty about how attractive you are refreshing. It doesn’t come off as arrogant or vain, just honest. I’ve seen the other two and they are just as off putting as severe modesty (which usually makes me think someone has self esteem issues,which I can relate to).

    Sometimes, I think we see what we consider false modesty from people who honestly don’t have a clue how attractive they are. I’m one of those people. Mentally, I’m still that fat kid with glasses from high school. I know people find me attractive, and once in a while I look at myself in the mirror and think, “I look pretty damned good just now, why don’t I ever feel like it?” Call it Ugly Duckling Syndrome. Sometimes I think it might be a nice change for a while if women were as vocal when it come to complimenting the opposite sex as men are.

    Here is something I find interesting: my first impulse on reading “I know I have large pores and oily skin and huge ugly teeth” is to say, “You have a cute smile, not perfect, but I love it. A lot of people have large pores, including super models and actresses, don’t sweat it. And as for the oily skin, I can pretty much guarantee that given the opportunity I couldn’t keep my hands off of it so it can’t be that bad.” So where does that impulse come from? Is it just my usual bluntness? A construct of the society I was raised in? My need to ‘reassure’ a woman who doesn’t need it? Proof that I’m attracted enough to be able to easily overlook any physical fault?

    You know what I think? I think it’s all of them. People are complicated.

    I look forward to your next post, I think it will be an interesting one.

    Now, I think I’ll leave off before I go into Pepe le Pew mode. ; )

    • Okay, I laughed. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing stuff in Word and then copy/pasting into the browser for just that reason. It’s happened to me far too many times. And you know what? It never comes out as well the second time you have to write it.

      Thanks for not jumping to point out my faults. This actually happened to me a few weeks ago:

      A friend of mine on Facebook posed a question: How attractive do you think you are in relation to other people? Scale of 1-10, where 5 is the average person of your sex.

      Most people posted answers ranging from 3-6. Me? I posted 8. A couple of other girls posted 9 and 10, and one other girl posted an 8. Immediately after my post (I was the last one to score myself relatively high), girls started jumping up saying most people had themselves backward, and that the girls rating themselves high weren’t that pretty and the girls rating themselves low were VERY pretty. I was thinking, Are you fricking serious? I knew exactly what was going on: we girls who rated ourselves high weren’t in line with the Aw Shucks Phenomenon, so they were making it a point to bring us back in line with an insult. Of course, the girls who rated themselves low received glowing compliments, even the ones who really weren’t very attractive. That’s just a bullshit way for society to act. If I had said my writing was 300% better than the average person’s, nobody would have pitched such a fit. If so many people really thought looks didn’t matter, they wouldn’t jump to insult the people with high self-image.

      Then the same friend posted the same day: Rate your intelligence as well below average, below average, average, above, or well above. Nobody posted anything less than average, and even the people who posted average were very few. And nobody made any snide comments about the fact that a lot of people were saying they were well above.

      I think that’s interesting that you don’t know how attractive you are, but I can see where you’re coming from. In high school I don’t think I had grown into my looks so I wasn’t very attractive. As such, I was rarely told that I was. Seriously, when guys dated me, it was for my personality. I never thought one way or the other about how I looked. I genuinely can’t remember it ever even crossing my mind until I turned eighteen and guys started in on me. So I think it’s reasonable to assume that if they never had, I wouldn’t know, either. And for men I suppose it’s worse, because women really are never taught to grant those sort of compliments. Even now I’m terribly uncomfortable just with the idea of telling a man directly that I think he’s good looking. I’m not sure I’ve ever done it. We are also traditionally the chased as opposed to the chasers, so there isn’t any help there, either. I guess this explains why so many unattractive men are confident about their looks and vice-versa–with no expectations for compliments, I suppose they just form their own opinions.

      There really are days when I look in the mirror and I think, Good God, how does anyone think that face is attractive? Really, really. But I think I’ve been lucky that when those days do occur, there has usually been someone to tell me I’m cute or whatever. The time I posted that blog about the angry guy in the other car? That was on a day I was feeling unattractive.

      This is turning into another blog post. I think I have been NOT talking about it for so long that it’s all decided to come out now.

      I find it interesting that you feel the need to reassure me that my physical flaws are not that bad, even though you know they don’t bother me to the point that I feel ugly. It sounds a bit like the same thing the girls were doing on that post on Facebook, only without feeling the need to drag me down for other.

      And yes, we’re a terribly complicated species.

      I got hilarious images of excessive arm kissing when you mentioned Pepe le Pew. 🙂

    • I would like to have seen that Facebook poll. That would have been interesting. That whole false modesty thing annoys the hell out of me. I like to be just the opposite when I can, but playfully.

      For example, I wear very good cologne. I know that it appeals to a lot of women. So when a woman tells me I smell good, especially one I know, I give her a rakish smile and say, “I know.” It usually works out well.

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