Today, I realised a very disturbing thing.
I was looking at some pictures of friends and what hit me really hard was that I found ALL the girls good-looking but the guys? I thought their looks were ordinary to plain ugly.
I immediately felt disgusted and mortified by my obnoxiously judgmental vision. And then it hit me that somewhere, my standards of beauty had been warped so much that I was not permitting the men to be, well, even 'homely', leave alone handsome. Why and how did my vision get shaped so, that I had an opinion on every girl's look, but couldn't give a toss about the men's?
This is my hypothesis:
Women, and particularly their looks, have been splashed hugely across all possible discourses, especially visual. As someone subjected to those discourses, I now find myself accepting a very, very large range of female looks as 'attractive'. Perhaps it's because I see mostly women in the visual discourse, and/or I keep on hearing/reading/learning about multiple standards of women's looks and beauty (because looks they are SO central to representations of women -- hello, reductiveness!), and how every woman is beautiful.
On the other hand, I feel that men aren't represented in visual discourse as much, and when they are, their looks are made secondary, and/or discussed almost never. Their caring natures, their love for their women and children, their successes in their businesses/professions are shown and celebrated. Further, the men that are shown in visual medium are all attractive, blandly so, but yes, attractive. I think somewhere that is raising the bar for men's beauty insanely much. By not permitting men in the visual media to have a variety of looks, and labelling all those looks 'attractive', visual media has made sure that we find few of those guys good looking. At the same time, even if plain women are shown in visual media, we are taught to view them, or at least something about them, as attractive.
Somewhere, I think these skewed representations and even more skewed ways of opinion-forming have made it so that now, in this day and age, I don't find a single man on the planet handsome. Not one. Except... those that embody certain kind of looks, such as Lord Byron's (from his portraits). Or the beauty of young Rishi Kapoor, the adorable youthful Paul McCartney. Or delicate-featured Bradley Cooper. Or James Dean with his pouting face. Johnny Depp. Clean-shaven nice-guy Brandon Routh. Enrique Iglesias and Julio Iglesias Junior. Those are the men I have considered good-looking.
Do you see what I'm getting at? To me, the Men whom I find good-looking? Are those whose looks have a touch (just a touch) of what we would call 'feminine' (delicate features, high cheekbones, soft-looking skin, long-lashed eyes, dimpled cheeks, winsome smiles). Nothing, and I mean, there's nothing rugged, or manly, or too-masculine about their looks.
And this is how I have internalised decades of visual representations of men and women, that my measuring cup's markers are all calibrated towards cis-women's looks