Saturday, 6 August 2016

On beauty, on what's hot, and on social pressures

This starts analytical, gets ranty/preachy, then a little bit sexy, then a little bit wistful. A mixed bag. 

Every society, every tribe, every social group has always had their own averaged, normative standards of beauty (and other traits considered to be ''attractive''). Some of these might be based on human universals, hard wired to some degree. Others are culturally defined and change in our very eyes with fads and fashions. This post about fashionable tits by GOTN charts one such a course. 

I am not writing to persuade anybody that people lacking normative fuckability can, and do, get laid, are desired and loved, and that "universally hot" might be a useful data point but it's a poor predictor of individual attraction. That is so blatantly obvious that it doesn't need saying. Just look around, in the real world. 

But I am also not writing to persuade anybody that "everyone is beautiful". Some people are beautiful, either by the current social standards, or by personal ones, and others are not. 

Instead of trying to broaden the criteria by saying ''everybody is beautiful'',  it might be better to say ''it isn't that important'. 

I know. I know. It isn't easy. These judgements sting, more so when we are not confident about our own or our partner's looks. In the real world we inhabit, who we choose to fuck and whom we choose to love reflects on us. However much you don't like it, your choice of a mate, casual or long term, influences what people think of you. 

But still, I really don't like the notion that ''everybody has a right to be considered beautiful''. It gives way too much power to ''beautiful''. 

It tells us that only beautiful could, and should be desirable, and desired. It makes us insecure about not being beautiful enough or about the loss of beauty that comes with age or happens with life events. It conflates ''beautiful'' and ''hot''. It tells us that to be desired and loved we have to be beautiful, even if only in the eyes of that one person. It makes not just the less-beautiful feel wobbly and needy of reassurance, but also those who choose them. 

I have been on both sides of that.

The thing about fat girls being great to fuck but not someone you'd want to be seen with, yes, I've been there. 

The girl (and allow me, please, a moment of mean, a girl whose own looks weren't exactly of model standards), who said incredulously ''I get that boys want casual sex, but with her?'', and the one that repeated it to me. 

The look in a friend's eyes when she said ''I get it, you were drunk and horny, but him? him?'', I've seen it. 

And then, there was the Ugly American. He rented a room for a few days in the same, empty for the summer, dingy student flat in Fulham where I was renting one too. We met properly at the bar of a pub facing a leafy green, on a sunny weekend afternoon, some time between that horrid Bryan Adams song and the possibly even more horrid Winds of Change. 

He lit my cigarette, we started talking, had a few more beers. His eyes kept darting between my fingers, the cigarette, and my lips, and we joked about non-smokers kissing smokers being compared to licking ashtrays. We walked home, staggering along the shaded side of the street, and kissed for the first time before we passed the entrance to Parson's Green tube station. 

First tentatively, heads leaning towards each other. His lips, dry and full. The tip of my tongue touching them, his sliding along my lips which opened for it, reaching deeper into my mouth, tasting, pressing, licking. My hands on his neck pulling him closer, my body tensing in a spasm of desire.

We shared the next nine days in that dingy flat, drinking cheap lager (me) and cider from large plastic bottles (him), talking about what trees dreamt of (both), smoking More's 100's (me) and watching me smoke them (him), and fucking at at every opportunity that my cash-in-hand, 50-hours-week job and his attempts at sightseeing on the cheap.

He was enthusiastic and attentive to my pleasure, with eager hands, surprisingly skilled mouth and a thick, pretty cock, the first circumcised one I'd had fun with, which responded beautifully and repeatedly to things I did and which was likely a significant factor in my first-ever (and still rare occurrence more than twenty years later) orgasm from penetrative sex. 

It was simple, joyful, uncomplicated. It made me walk around in a haze of happy glow, thighs sticky and mind dizzy with desire. 

But although he was tall and reasonably shaped, he was also rough-hewn and - yes, ugly. Not in any way repulsive, but plain, lacking proportion and finesse. Light years away from the faces that stopped me in my tracks and made my heart skip a beat. Light-years away from the androgynous, beautiful face of the boy I had been in love with for the previous four years or the finely defined features of my occasional fuckbuddy at the time. And not only that. The Ugly American was also, alas, a bit stupid, a bit simple, a stoner who'd made his way around the world hardly noticing or remembering anything about places he'd visited, undereducated in that a way that only graduates of US universities were then capable of. And I was a snob, and a young and silly one at that. Unduly worried about judgements of my friends, often keen to express disapproval of my tendency to grab what was there and my general lack of discrimination. 

So I didn't take him to a party the day before he was due to leave. And although the party was boring, and I left early, and our last night was as good as all other times, and we tried to sleep together in one of those hard, stupidly narrow single beds, and he neither knew about my reasons nor was bothered by my actions, and none of it was a big deal at all, later on I felt ashamed by my own embarrassment. I felt ashamed by my giving in to the need to maintain the public image, by my making that guy, who still, twenty five years later, holds his place among the best sexual experiences I've ever had, into my dirty little secret, neither because it was necessary nor because it was thrilling, but because I was ashamed of fucking the Ugly American. 

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